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June 24, 2016

Zach Gibbons

Jay Johnson

Cameron Ming

Cesar Salazar

Omaha, Nebraska

Arizona - 9, Oklahoma State - 3

THE MODERATOR: Jay, give us an overview of your victory.

COACH JOHNSON: Great performance by our team all the way through, starting on the mound. Good hitting team in Oklahoma State, and for Nathan to go eight up, eight down, Kevin came in got us out of a tough spot there, and Cameron doing what he's done all tournament long, it's a special effort.

I don't know after the ninth inning how many -- ended up with four hits. If you can do that to that team, that's a special effort from the mound.

Defensively, enough said. We're playing Hall of Fame defense right now across the board behind the plate with Cesar and then Ryan the other night.

In the infield, it's as good as it gets. And in the outfield, we're taking care of the ball at a very high level. Offensively we went back to work on some things yesterday. And had the best day at the plate that anybody in the tournament has had and looked very much in character for what I've seen for 65 or 66 games since we've been here. So we're excited about it. Regroup and get ready for tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Zach and Cesar, what did you guys work on just offensively coming into this game today, especially knowing what Oklahoma State has done on the mound in the College World Series?
ZACH GIBBONS: I definitely think just getting our pitch. The first time we faced them, we were swinging at the pitcher's pitch instead of ours. During BP we were working on the middle of the field. You can't go wrong if you're driving the ball middle of the field. I definitely think it was getting our pitch and working the middle of the field.

CESAR SALAZAR: I just started trying to relax because I felt a little bit tight the last game. So me and Coach Johnson talked about it last night, and he was just like, hey, just relax and, just like Zach said, select our pitch.

Q. Zach, after you guys got shut out I think in that first game out here, it seems like this team has played offensively, like Coach said, within character. What do you think was the key to get from that point to this point? What did you guys talk about after that game?
ZACH GIBBONS: Like I said before, just using our eyes, letting the ball back up to us and getting our pitch and putting a good swing on it. I feel like Buffett the other night was making great pitches and we were just swinging over the top of him, swinging at his pitch. I think today it just helped backing the ball up and getting our pitch and putting a good swing on it.

Q. Cameron, how were you able to keep going out there game after game?
CAMERON MING: Well, yesterday I got a day off. I got to rest, take care of my arm. The trainers do a good job. So I got a good day to rest in between every game. It's a blessing that we get a day off in between every game.

So I was pretty fresh today.

Q. Cesar, bottom of the order for you guys today was really productive, you and Lewis and Oliva. Six of the nine runs, and I'm certain you guys take a lot of pride in being able to have an outing like that for the bottom three of the order.
CESAR SALAZAR: Like we said, we worked in some things yesterday. And we just gotta trust ourselves, and that's what we did tonight and came up pretty good.

Q. Cesar, obviously the Bannister kind of hit stuff at one point. What happened there, the sequence? I saw you come out and check in with him before eventually obviously you left the game?
CESAR SALAZAR: I was just trying to make sure he was okay. First time he told me he was okay. So we tried to keep it going. But then got a look from my pitchers, and the next time I was like, hey, just tell me what you have. And we talked, and he told me what he had. That's unfortunately Oliva. Hopefully he'll be fine.

Q. It looked like after that how fitting when Bannister left there was a meeting in the dugout and then when it broke up there was a lot of dancing around. Was there anything in that meeting? What was kind of the tone of that?
ZACH GIBBONS: I think definitely Coach said nobody wants to win more than Bannister. He's proven it all year. He's gone out and competed to the fullest extent he could do. So Coach said no one wants to win more than he does, so go out and do it for him.

Q. Cesar, you took, I think, three foul tips in this game. Also got hit by a backswing, had kind of a weird collision at the plate. How are you feeling right now and the sacrifices that you have to make in order to win?
CESAR SALAZAR: I'm feeling great. I'm ready to roll tomorrow. Nothing bothers me. And I feel great.

Q. Zach, you guys I think are 5-0 in elimination games in this tournament, and you haven't necessarily done it the easy way, but you're getting the job done. What does it say about the team that you guys have been able to come back time and time again when your back's to the wall?
ZACH GIBBONS: I think it's just all year we've been counted out, picked to finish tenth or ninth in the Pac. Not even supposed to come out of a Regional. I feel like when we get on the field, we have to prove everyone wrong, almost. We're going to go out and grind. And if they get us, they're going to get us our best.

Q. Cameron, obviously you don't need extra motivation in the College World Series, but knowing that Bannister had left early, was that in the back of your mind when you're out there on the mound today?
CAMERON MING: Yeah, a little bit. Bannister is the captain of the pitching staff, I would say. He grinds it out every time he goes out there and shows us how much he wants to win. And it means a lot to every one of the pitchers. I look up to him a lot. When he came out of the game, I just wanted to give him and our team the best.

Q. How did you kind of navigate the emotional shock of Banni having to leave the game? And the second is what is your outlook for tomorrow?
ZACH GIBBONS: I really wasn't sure what happened to Nathan when he left the game. I saw Ginkel go in, and I knew him and Ming were going to do a great job, like they've been doing all year. And the plan for tomorrow is just do what we did today. Like I said before. If they get us, they'll get our best. Just leave nothing on the table.

CAMERON MING: You kind of have to not think about it, as much as it sucks, that Banni came out of the game early. You have to set that aside keep working as a pitching staff. You have to piece it together. Ginkel did a good job. And I took over. And after the game you kind of get with Banni and hope everything's good.

CESAR SALAZAR: Like Cameron says, it sucks that Banni was out. But we trust our bullpen. They've been doing a phenomenal job throughout the tournament. And our coaches are doing a really good job of scouting reports and what pitches to call. So they were executing their pitches, and we felt pretty good about it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Can you talk at all about the extent of Bannister's injury?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah. He felt something uncomfortable that he felt three summers ago when he was in the Cape Cod League. And he said it was just a little bit tight, a little bit tired like there was nothing on the ball. I was very encouraged he threw two pitches after we went out there. Standing behind the mound, had I not known anything would happen, it didn't look any different to me. So that's a very encouraging sign with Nathan.

So we'll get him checked out obviously further, but I'm very optimistic about it.

Q. There's obviously kind of a domino effect that happens in a situation like this. If Nathan is able to go seven or eight innings, you can save Ginkel and Ming. What are you going to do tonight in terms of figuring out what the pitching game plan is tomorrow?
COACH JOHNSON: Do what I always do: Eat, sleep, live Arizona baseball, and we're going to find a way.

Q. What was your message to the team after the shutout, to kind of help these guys get back to being the offensive team that you're used to seeing?
COACH JOHNSON: I think it's just understanding where we are. And if you're one of the last eight teams or in this case three or four teams playing, nobody is here unless they have a leadability on the mound. And when you have a leadability on the mound, it's going to be 1-0, 2-1. Everybody wants to make a big deal about the ballpark, but the reality is it's not an overly offensive place, but the teams with the best pitching in terms of getting out end up here. So it's hard to score runs.

So I loved our mentality throughout that game last Monday night, even though the results didn't show up. And so I thought we just kept grinding. I did not like our at-bats in the first inning against Santa Barbara. And I got into them a little bit in the first and second inning, and I feel since that time it's been a little better. Trevor Bettencourt made it tough on us the other night for a few innings, but outside of that, I like what I've seen from our offense over the last game and a half.

Q. After what their pitching staff did in the first couple of games, how important was it to even get one run in that first inning and two right after that?
COACH JOHNSON: I think it was really important. I don't -- when you're playing teams of the caliber of Oklahoma State or TCU or Coastal Carolina, the game's hanging in the balance on every pitch. So it was a great at-bat by Cody to get us off. Zach. Jensen Elliott made a nice play on the bunt and he made a good pitch to Bobby, and it was a big at-bat by JJ. Spoiled a couple of pitches with two strikes and went the other way. Just the same as Donnie Walton did the other night. And good hitters can do that.

Q. How difficult is it at this stage of the season here in the College World Series of balancing that life or death versus the pitching staff? How much time do you spend thinking about and how different is it than the normal tournament or just normal in the middle of the season?
COACH JOHNSON: Life or death, can you expand on that for me?

Q. Life or death in the tournament. Either you're playing tomorrow or you aren't.
COACH JOHNSON: I got a group of guys I love being around. And they love being around each other. And I don't think there's anybody that wants to continue their season more than those 27 guys on that roster right now. And it's evident in how they play. It's evident in how they interact with each other, and they have accomplished a lot.

And so we're enjoying that accomplishment and we're attacking the competition with great competitiveness. And I'm really, really proud to be their coach.

Q. I'm guessing you're not going to announce a starting pitcher for tomorrow so I'm not going to ask that specifically, but I did talk to Bobby Dalbec in there. He said if called upon, he's ready to go. How do you feel Bobby pitched in the postseason so far and would do in a situation like that?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, good job by getting the starter out of me yesterday. Like I said, it only took you 69 games to do that. We're going to go back and look at it and develop a plan. The way we're playing defense and building offensive momentum, I think we can figure out how to piece it together.

And for me it's perfect. I mean, this is us. You're picked ninth out of 11 or 10 out of 11 from a couple of publications, good. That's great. Good thing that it matters what happens on the field.

You go into two really hostile environments in Lafayette and Starkville. You fall into the loser's bracket, great. It's still about the play. And our guys have been awesome at focusing on what they can control and what's really important.

As far as how he's pitched in the postseason, Sam Houston State won over 40 games, and he pitched great against them. Mississippi State, you'd be hard pressed to find a better pitching performance than that one. And then you saw what he did to this great team last Monday night. So he's a Major League pitcher. That's what I think of his performance.


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