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June 25, 2016

Louis Boyd

Bobby Dalbec

Zach Gibbons

Jay Johnson

Omaha, Nebraska

Arizona - 5, Oklahoma State - 1

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an overview from Coach Johnson.

COACH JOHNSON: I'm very proud of these guys. First off, would like to congratulate Coach Holliday and Oklahoma State, true championship-caliber team, especially that pitching staff on the mound. That program is on a great trajectory for where they want it to go. And I don't think you've seen the last of the Cowboys here in Omaha.

Wow. These three guys sitting next to me epitomize what our team is. They're team-first guys, elite human beings. And then when you talk about playing good baseball and I look at Bob and what he's done on the mound, it's borderline legendary here in the postseason.

And I don't think there's a better defensive shortstop in the country right now than Louis Boyd holding that down and anchoring it down. And then Zach Gibbons was put on the planet to hit with runners in scoring position. Monday, let's go.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Looking at the whole season, this postseason run, what was it about the stats, Jay, and the staff's vision that helped you guys become what you are as a team right now just getting to this point in his first season?
LOUIS BOYD: I think it's a "one game at a time" mentality. We play every game as a Super Bowl. We stay together as a team, and everyone just believes in one another.

And we're going into Monday really confident, really tight group of people, and we're excited to get going.

BOBBY DALBEC: I mean, it's pretty much that simple. Every game is a Super Bowl. And that's how we play.

ZACH GIBBONS: They said it best, every game is a Super Bowl. That's how we play baseball.

Q. Bobby, your coach just said that what you've been doing this season is borderline legendary. What's been going right for you out there? What was going right today and what was your approach and obviously a very big game today?
BOBBY DALBEC: Just didn't try to change or differ from what I did the first time I faced them because it worked the first time. And I knew the offense would come back strong, just like yesterday. So I was trying to be down in the zone. Probably didn't even have my best stuff today. But I was sinking the ball a little bit more and staying low.

Q. Bobby, I think Coach said yesterday that the infield defense in particular was playing at a Hall of Fame level. I mean, the plays that those guys, especially in the middle, are making behind you, have you seen defense better than that from anybody in your career? It seems like it's incredible every play they're making.
BOBBY DALBEC: Yeah, I mean, it all starts with positioning and then these guys being in the right spot and getting the first steps. They're pretty perfect this postseason.

Q. Bobby, I was going to ask you: You said that you didn't want to change because it worked against Oklahoma State on Monday. But was there concern also that they might adjust, maybe they'd seen you just a few days ago that they might have a different plan of attack and that you'd have to tweak? Or I guess how did you approach that aspect knowing they'd seen you before?
BOBBY DALBEC: I didn't strike out as many of them. So, I mean, they were kind of on some pitches they weren't on the first game, and they hit the ball hard, for the most part, just right at our guys. So they did a good job putting together at-bats and hitting the ball hard. We just were in the right spot.

Q. Some of you have mentioned before this season people picking you to pick 10th or 11th in the Pac-12, and some of the doubts throughout the year. How satisfying is it for you guys now to obviously be in the finals to get this win today and to get to this point, one of the last two teams standing?
LOUIS BOYD: It feels amazing. And we've kind of played that role all year that we're the underdog, and we've totally embraced that. And whether or not we're the underdog going into Monday, it doesn't matter. It's just another game. We're playing the game of baseball, and we're going to play it well.

BOBBY DALBEC: I wouldn't say satisfied just yet, just because the season's not over. But it feels pretty good.

ZACH GIBBONS: Like Louis said, we were the underdog, but I feel that's been how we are all year. Going out and grinding and playing competitive baseball for nine innings.

Q. Bobby, pitching in Hi Corbett field, pitching here you know you can pitch to contact and rely on your defense. That was especially the case today while you were in the game and after you left. The guy next to you, his uniform's all dirty. What is it like as a pitcher when you know the guys behind you are going to make really good plays on defense?
BOBBY DALBEC: Feels great. You don't feel like you have to be perfect. You can just get after and compete and stay at the ball hard. And they're going to make plays, and Gibby has been great in right field all year, making that sliding catch four times a game it feels like. It's pretty much the same pitching Hi Corbett. Ball probably flies a little bit better at Arizona. The wind is always blowing in here.

Q. Zach, having seen Hatch this week and as good as he was, did that help you getting in the second time? Did you have a better plan of attack this time against him, do you think?
ZACH GIBBONS: I think honestly we just stuck with what we did yesterday. Getting our foot down, moving the ball back, letting it get deep and putting a good swing up the middle. I think if you swing for up the middle, you're going to get a lot of hits there.

Q. They had a little rally going there in the ninth inning, Louis, and a guy hit a really hard ground ball to your left. Can you just walk us through that play and just talk about what it's like when you leave a game with a uniform that's so dirty, what that means?
LOUIS BOYD: Used to rate my play based on the amount of dirt I got on my jersey when I was younger. I'm happy it's really dirty today and made a good pitch and got the ground ball that we needed. I was happy that I was able to get to it and didn't have to make Aggie stretch too much this time. So that was a relief.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Can you just expand a little bit about what Bobby's done down the stretch here? A guy who comes into the season, one of the highest regarded hitters in the country, opens the year in a relief role and started I guess a little bit midseason, moving the rotation full time down the stretch and seems like the guy that has gotten it done time and time again no matter what the situation is.
COACH JOHNSON: No question about it. He's a high-profile player, as you mentioned, and sometimes that junior year draft year can be tricky for guys. And I think what was interesting about this year, I mean, he has been the marked man in our lineup from an offensive standpoint. Nobody knew who Cody Ramer was or Ryan Aguilar was.

Bobby at the outset was getting pitched extremely tough and got off to a little ability of a tough start. I think the story in this whole thing is his character and perseverance, offensively, and he's been huge for us offensively in the postseason. The team-first thing on the mound.

We didn't know what we had when we were starting the year with the whole picture, and we sat down in the office as coaches and said, okay, we're playing Rice opening weekend. We're going to the Tony Gwynn Classic the second weekend. We have our tournament the third weekend, which had two 40-win teams in it. Cal State Fullerton was a home opener. If we have a chance to win one game, we're going to put him in the game and he's going to close it out.

His ability to finish games in the early part of this season helped the team develop a lot of confidence, and that can be not understated.

Then I wouldn't call it a tipping point, but we got swept at Utah and part of it was he was sick. And we couldn't close them. And end up going three leads. And we led for 24 of the 27 innings of that series and got swept. Monday we had a game against BYU who was like 25-4 at the time, and he was healthy and he started and gave us a spectacular performance.

And from that point forward it was hard to take him out of the rotation. We went back and forth with start, close, and he's performed at a special level. And then we kind of talked about once we got to the postseason that that was going to be an X factor of getting him into the rotation and beat a Sam Houston State team that was a really good program on the rise.

The Starkville outing, I'll never forget that the rest of my life. That was as good as it gets. And then lost a tough 1-0 game here and obviously did that today. So I know I just gave you like a three-minute answer, and I could talk 30 minutes about it because that's how important he's been to this team.

Q. He's just shrugged it off like it's no big deal, didn't do anything different than Monday. But facing the same team twice in one week is not easy. How difficult from your vantage point is that, and just what did you see from him today? Did he kind of just do the same thing that he did Monday?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I'm pretty sure the Giants and Padres and Diamondbacks get to face Clayton Kershaw like four times a year, and he seems to do okay. When you get a special guy like that, it's strikes, it's low strikes, it's in and out up and down with the fastball, it's changing speeds, he's a great athlete. He fields his position well. You can't bunt. He's quick to the plate. Hard to score runs off a guy like that.

And it was hard for us to score runs off their couple of guys like that, because they have them, too. And I just think he's a complete pitcher. I think he's one of those rare guys that if that's the direction he feels going, he'd be in the Big Leagues pretty fast. And I'm confident when you look at his makeup and the ability that you put with it, it's a pretty special talent.

Q. Bobby just said that he doesn't feel satisfied as of yet. And talking to some of the players in the locker room, they're saying kind of the same thing; that this isn't over yet and the celebration on the field was relatively subdued compared to some previous ones. Is that a message that you relay to them or a sense that you get from them that they feel like they're not finished yet?
COACH JOHNSON: I think the sense I get -- and if you were to say what's the pressure, the consequence of the circumstance of what we're doing, is we love being together. And they love being together. And we want to keep going as long as we possibly can. Yeah, the competitive side to it, and I'd walk down an alley with those guys at two in the morning at the roughest part of the world, and we're going to come out of it fine.

And so I think speaking of their character, that doesn't surprise me at all. And they need to enjoy this tonight in terms of having a good dinner, rest, drink water, and then we'll get ready to roll tomorrow with a great training session. And I'm not shocked at all to hear that being their response.

Q. I don't think any team all year has hit Hatch like that. I mean, you saw him. He shut you down earlier in the week. And what was the difference this time? Did you change anything about how you attacked him based on a previous look?
COACH JOHNSON: We didn't face him actually. Santa Barbara. That's okay. But I watched the Nebraska game in the Regional. I watched the South Carolina game in the Super Regional. I watched what he did to Santa Barbara the other day, and it was -- we knew we had our hands full. And you had to hope that he was going to be a little bit off, and I think he was.

With that being said, all the credit goes to our hitters in this. We put together a plan of attack, and they did not deviate for one second. And the two-strike at-bats and the hits with runners in scoring position was total plate discipline and total commitment to what they wanted to do.

And that's how it has to go against a guy like that. I didn't know how the game was going to go, if it was going to be we were going to be able to ambush them like that, if it was going to be we were going to have to grind them out early and hopefully he got tired. I knew the two guys on the back end were good. So for us to be successful today, we needed to find a way to get him out of the game, and it was the perfect formula.


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