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March 7, 2017

Warwick Saupold

Trent Oeltjen

Luke Hughes

Tokyo, Japan

Q. Well, tomorrow, you have the game in Japan. Please tell us about your feelings right now and your condition.
LUKE HUGHES: We're looking forward to the challenge ahead, playing Japan tomorrow night. We've had a pretty good warmup to the tournament, and been in Korea for a couple of games.

Obviously coming over to Osaka, playing a couple, playing against Hanshin and Orix. So the feeling on the team is pretty good. Everyone is pretty fired up and ready to go, and take on the world in 2017 World Baseball Classic.

TRENT OELTJEN: The prep has been great. We're really excited to be here, and obviously Japan tomorrow, a great team. We're really excited with what we've got. We've got a lot of major league experience and a lot of younger guys coming through the ranks, as well. We plan on putting together a big show tomorrow.

WARWICK SAUPOLD: Yeah, it's always fun taking on the world's best, and the boys are looking forward to facing Japan tomorrow and try and get off on the right foot. So yeah, looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. You talked about looking forward to play against Japan. Please tell us your opinion about Samurai Japan.
LUKE HUGHES: We are going to come up against some pretty good pitching tomorrow night. Rumor has it Sugano is starting, which I'm sure we're all looking forward to. But we're confident. We come over here, we're ready to play. We're here to win. We're not here just to make up numbers. That's the feeling around camp and that's the message Jon Deeble has given to us and the one we run with.

We're excited for the challenge and we know it's going to be pretty tough and pretty hostile out there with 40,000 or 50,000 hands. But we have a little cheer section from Australia coming over to cheer on the boys, so we are looking forward to seeing those 20 or 30 people up there.

TRENT OELTJEN: Japan always rolls out the best in the world, they're a superstar team, the starters, as well as a couple other guys, who were part of the 2004 Olympic Team, and it was the same thing there. They rolled out the superstars and we beat them and won the Silver Medal.

Yeah, we're playing here to win tomorrow.

WARWICK SAUPOLD: Yeah, I think the boys have said it all. As I said before, we're looking forward to getting out there and facing Japan in Japan. We know everybody is going to be rooting for them, and you know, we're here to shock the world and that all starts tomorrow.

Q. Tomorrow Sugano might be the starting pitcher. Can you tell us about him a little bit?
LUKE HUGHES: We can't give away our secrets too much. Obviously we've watched a lot of video on him, on his starts, and the previous games he's pitched in. We've had a couple meetings about what he throws and what he likes to do. We know it's going to be tough. We know he's the Japanese No. 1 pitcher, but we're looking forward to the challenge. I think the boys are up to it.

TRENT OELTJEN: As Luke said, he's a very good pitcher. We have some different reports from last season and what he likes to do to different hitters. So yeah, we're excited for the challenge.

Q. For the three of you, to go to the next round for the first time in the WBC, what is necessary?
WARWICK SAUPOLD: I think just get 27 outs. You know, playing sound baseball is going to win games. Pitching is going to win games. And you know, try not to make mistakes. Play the game the right way and play it hard, and hopefully good things work out.

We've got talent on this team, and definitely to go to the second round and even further. No, we're really looking forward to it.

TRENT OELTJEN: As War said, defensively, we need to make the plays. We need to come up with the big hits with runners in scoring position. Yeah, that's what we're here to do, get to the second round and hopefully go further on.

LUKE HUGHES: Yeah, just backing up what these guys have said, we know we have to play our best baseball to beat Japan, to beat China and to beat Cuba and to get through that second round.

If we don't come here and play our best baseball, we know it's going to be pretty tough. Generally the Japanese baseball players will make you pay if you make a mistake. They generally have a good knack of driving in runs after errors or walks and stuff like that.

So that's something that we know we need to eliminate and make sure we play fundamentally sound baseball, which we have been doing a great job in the games leading up to the World Baseball Classic.

Q. Yesterday you saw Israel present a very surprising game, and today it seems they are winning, too. In this Group B, Australia is supposed to be the dark horse among the Japanese media. But being a dark horse and going to the next round, what do you think about that?
LUKE HUGHES: It's been the year of the dark horse: We watched the EPL last year; Leicester City won the championship. In Australia, the Western Bulldogs won the championship.

It's something for us, we like that people are calling us a dark horse. It means they are worried about us and we like that. I think from the games that we have played against the Japanese clubs, obviously we had a draw yesterday and lost a 3-0 game against Hanshin.

I think everyone knows that we can play a good brand of baseball, and something that hopefully we can take on to the field tomorrow night.

TRENT OELTJEN: As Luke said, being the dark horse, that's where we want to be. In tournament play, anything can happen. It's not the 140-, 160-game season. It's just one game. So a lot of different things can happen, as you saw with Israel upsetting Korea. Yeah, Pool B, you just never know what's going to happen.

WARWICK SAUPOLD: Yeah, it's always good being an underdog. There's no pressure on you. We're going out there with no pressure and all the pressure is on Japan. They are in front of their home crowd, so if they disappoint, the whole crowd will let them know. We're going out with no pressure and we're going to play a tough brand of baseball and a greedy game of baseball. We're going to really take it to them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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