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May 22, 2017

Tom Walter

Louisville, Kentucky

TOM WALTER: First and foremost, we're thrilled to be part of this championship and look forward to the Slugger ballpark in Louisville. We're just really proud of this team. We've got a good group of guys, and a great bunch of captains and seniors that have kind of led the way the last four years and taken this program to places we haven't been in a long time. So just excited to get started on postseason baseball.

Q. I'm curious if you could take me through Griffin Roberts and the jump he's made for you guys this year and what he's been able to do kind of at your back end?
TOM WALTER: Yeah, he's been the difference. At the end of last year, everybody talked about the loss of Will Craig, who was a first-round draft pick, and his sophomore year, the ACC Player of the Year, and I guess the runner up last year. But by some publications, the National Player of the Year last year. Everybody was talking about how we couldn't replace him offensively, and I was more worried about replacing him at the end of the game. And Griffin has stepped into that role fabulously. He's been the difference for us this year.

Coming into the year our biggest question mark was going to be who our number three starter was and who our closer was, and both of those guys have stepped into those roles and really thrived. His maturation as a pitcher is all confidence-based. We saw really good outings out of him last year, especially the first part of the year, headed into the Coastal Carolina games early in the year. His freshman year he was really good, and he kind of got in a funk, and wasn't throwing a whole lot of strikes and couldn't repeat his delivery and his arm slot was all over the place. But as he's become more consistent with his delivery and it's been more repeatable, he's turned into a guy that we've taken anything -- you give Griffin Roberts the lead in the ninth inning against anybody in the country, and I like our chances.

Q. Did he emerge in fall ball? When did he kind of grab that role? How many other options did you have there?
TOM WALTER: Well, we had plenty of options. We could have put Donnie Sellers there, we wanted to make Donnie Sellers a starter, but we certainly could have made him our closer. He had experience in that role last year. He eventually settled in to be a set-up guy for Will. So he certainly would have been ready and had the stuff to do it if Griffin hadn't emerged. So we had a back-up plan. But we knew we'd be a better team if Donnie started and Griff closed.

And, yeah, I think his development in the summer was huge. He went to Amsterdam and they gave him some rope and allowed him to walk some people early and kind of work through that. That's what he needed. He needed kind of maturity and needed to grow into his body a little bit and sync his delivery up. It was pretty evident to us early in the fall that he was going to be that guy.

He has such great command of his breaking ball in the fall that we had no doubts that he could do it at the end of the game.

Q. Of course FSU is one of the teams you guys saw late in the year. I have to ask, what's been your thoughts on FSU as of late, having, A, played a game, but B, seeing they are 14-5 in their last 19 games?
TOM WALTER: Yeah, they finally got their lineup together. They've got Mendoza back in the lineup. I know they lost Aplin, which was certainly a big blow to them. But you look at their lineup, 1 through 6, starting with Walls and Busby and Nieporte and Mendoza and Cal Raleigh, they're a scary lineup, and they can beat you. They can hit the ball out of the ballpark. You know, one thing they do, and you saw it against us in the game Parker Dunshee threw on Friday, and you saw it in the Brendan McKay game against Louisville, they're going to make your pitchers earn everything they get. They love to walk. If he's your best pitcher, they're going to run the pitch count up and try to get him out of the game and get into the bullpen, that's a plan that works in college baseball. Obviously, there is a dropoff from everybody's Friday guy to whoever is next. You know, Florida State just does a really good job of sticking with their offensive approach. Now that they're healthy and kind of firing on all cylinders, they're a dangerous team for sure.

Q. Would you say they are kind of a little deceptive? I know some people look at their conference record and it's kind of a bit surprising, but considering they do have a series win over Clemson, they did get one over Louisville, and they lost by a run in two games to you and lost by a run to Virginia. Is this team a little more dangerous than people think?
TOM WALTER: Well, I think without question. There is no doubt about it. They'll go as far as their pitching goes, because the offense is going to be there. They're going to score runs. It's just a matter of having to win four games to win the ACC Tournament, it's going to depend on how their pitching holds up.

Yeah, they're a lot more dangerous than people think. You look at their RPI, I think it's 14 or 16. They're a good club. They're a top 15 club. I know they had a little funk early in the year where they weren't playing as well. But, again, if you look at the guys they had out of the lineup at that time, and you can understand why that happened.

Q. There's been a lot of discussion about the format and the way it unfolds. From a pitching perspective, how would you guys handle the two games that you play, and obviously you hope to get into the Saturday semi from it?
TOM WALTER: Well, it's obviously not rocket science. It's a huge advantage to be one of the top four seeds because you don't have to go 2-0 to win your pool, the other teams do. The two lower seeds play before you play anybody. So the reality is you look at who wins that first game, and you need to beat the winner of that game. Not that the other game is not important, and not that it's not a throwaway game, but the reality is you have to win one of those two games and it has to be the right game. And you know which game that is. So if you want to, you could put all your bullets on that game, so to speak. That's what we're going to do. Whoever wins the Georgia Tech-Miami game will see Parker Dunshee and Colin Peluse behind him and probably going to see Roberts behind him. Unless it goes from Dunshee to Roberts. We're going to throw everything we have to win that game. The other game, whichever game it is, whether it's Georgia Tech or Miami, not that we're going to pitch off, but we're probably going to staff it. Kind of break the game up so we have a reference, if we are lucky enough to win the game, we need to win. And we can advance the Saturday and Sunday, we'll have a day off Friday and we'll have a rested pitching staff to try to win Saturday and Sunday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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