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June 2, 2017

Matt Deggs

Hunter Hearn

Nick Mikolajchak

Robie Rojas

Lubbock, Texas

Sam Houston St. - 5, Arizona - 4

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement, and then questions for the student-athletes.

COACH DEGGS: First of all, I thought it was a great fight. It was a great battle all night long. Our guys were ready to play. They played extremely hard, extremely passionate. Had a ton of intensity and energy tonight.

We ran a freshman out there to start the game for us. We liked that match-up. Got us into the fourth, and then we were able to get it to Dakota and then back to Riley to go back left-handed. I thought coupe did a great job two and a third innings. Had to bring Kyle and Cameron in to get an out and back to another lefty, and then to our freshman closer who led our league in saves this year and has just been -- has ice water in his veins. Can't say enough about him.

Thought we were anxious at times tonight. Didn't do a great job of dominating some routine plays that we generally do. But on the flip side of that, I thought we made some incredible defensive plays as well, and then we were able to come through with a big hit. I thought Robie Rojas, that three-run jack was gigantic for us, obviously, and we were able to just kind of chip away and score some runs off a quality arm.

Arizona's a great opponent, very well-coached. They play extremely hard. They understand what they're doing. So it's a fun game. It was a great bat battle. It was a good fight tonight.

Q. Just kind of talk a little bit about that home run. What pitch you saw and just talk a little bit about the hit?
ROBIE ROJAS: Yeah, before the game we decided he was going to go soft away and try to come hard in, and that's exactly what he did. He went changeup away and fastball in, and had a feeling he was going to go changeup away again, but he ended up going breaking ball and he just left it up.

Q. Robie, just talk about your recent hot streak. I think you went 10 for 16 at the south land tourney, and kind of continued to be on a roll tonight. Is there anything to that?
ROBIE ROJAS: When you have guys like Hearn and Chisolm and you have Harp in front of you, they don't want to pitch to those guys, so they're going to try to attack me. It's just a lot easier for me to hit when they want to attack me so they don't face Chisolm or Harp.

Q. Hunter, your coach referenced the great defense that you guys played out there. You made one of those plays. Can you describe that throw to the plate and that whole sequence?
HUNTER HEARN: Yes, sir. I know they had a hit-and-run on. I knew that guy was fast, but I looked up and just threw the ball just like I would in and out or anything. But Arizona's a great team. They made a bunch of defensive plays against us tonight too that were great. That was a very big -- we had a lot of outs at the plate tonight. I felt like that was huge for us. That stopped a lot of runs. They kept on pounding the ball, and that's our job is to stop that.

Q. Nick, just kind of talk about you coming in tonight and just kind of your performance overall? You come in in the 8th, get the strikeout with a guy in scoring position, and then give up the double in the ninth, and strikeout the last two. Just kind of talk about the emotions of the moment?
NICK MIKOLAJCHAK: Everybody who has seen me knows I'm a fiery competitor. I come into a lot of hairy situations. Thankful Coach trusts me in those. I love coming in with the pressure, and I've got my guys behind me to play D. They're a really good club. They can swing it, so I knew it wasn't going to be a cake walk going in, so I had to really bring it.

Q. Was attacking that particular part of the lineup with high fastballs kind of scouting report going in, or was that just you in the midst of the game with the emotion and everything?
NICK MIKOLAJCHAK: Just trusting what Coach Sirianni was calling. He calls great games for us, and trusting my catcher back here. I'm lucky I've got a senior veteran back here who is one of the best catchers in the nation. So they just kind of lead me, and I just follow.

Q. At the beginning of the week, Jay said you texted him and it was like here we go again with this. What was your approach facing Arizona again for the second straight year?
COACH DEGGS: Well, you've got to know going in they're going to be really prepared, and they were tonight. I thought our coaches did a great job of coaching tonight. Jay Sirianni called an incredible ballgame with the pitching staff. And our positioning, especially in the outfield with Coach Miller and Coach Harvell was spot on a couple of times tonight. You know that Jay and Sergio and Dave and Mark and those guys are going to do their homework. I thought they were very well prepared. So it boils down to the little things, really. We're going to have to play a better ballgame tomorrow night than we did defensively tonight.

I understand we blew up a squeeze or safety squeeze at the plate, and Hunter throughout the kid on the hit-and-run. Beene made an incredible diving catch down the line to step on the bag and double up owe leave a. But we're going to have to play a little better than we did tonight defensively.

So to beat a team like Arizona, you know, you're going to have to come up with some of those great plays. You're going to have to be able to cash in with two outs which we did tonight. You're going to have to fill up the strike zone. We almost let an inning get away from us there with two two-out walks towards the end of the ballgame. We were fortunate to bring Miko in and get JJ there to chase the ball up. So you know you're going to have your hands full with that ballclub. They're a rock solid team.

Q. Coach, talk about what went into the decision to start Kyle instead of Heath Donica?
COACH DEGGS: Well, we have some really good depth on the bump, and I liked the match-up with some of those lefties. You know, to be Frank with you, this is a program that's unafraid to crash and burn. I can tell you that. We showed up here to make some noise, and we felt like here, Heath Donica would give us our best chance going against whoever won that first game. And that second game in most tournaments, and especially a four-team regional, is always the most important game.

So it's a good feeling knowing we've got our guy on the mound. I know they've got Gingery on the mound as well, so it ought to be a great ballgame tomorrow night.

Q. That seventh inning as Arizona's making a charge they score those two runs and the runners on first and third with one out, were you surprised to see the squeeze there from a defensive standpoint or did you think that could be coming?
COACH DEGGS: I figured it was coming. Runs were at a premium for both clubs tonight. They weren't coming easy, I can tell you that. I know from my side of things, it was hard to get anything going tonight. Cloney and then to Flynn, they were hard to come by.

So at that point, they're just trying to score another run. If they had it back, they would probably place it a little better. Colin Cameron who had brought in to face the righty, super athletic, came off the bump and made a pivotal play. You've got to flay, and Hunter Hearn's throw, and Beene's play, all probably saved us the game.

Q. Can you talk about the freshman pitcher's performance? You threw quite a few of them. I know you said you're confident in them. But it's got to be impressive to see them come in in some tough situations and get out of it?
COACH DEGGS: They've done it all year, you know. We play in a very scrappy league. Our league can really hit. It's a league that guys grow older in and they learn how to hit. They've seen a slider and been knocked on their butt before. So there are some older kids in our league that can really hit, and it's a grind. All these freshmen, Backhus, Robinson, Miko, they've all been thrown into the fire.

So, yeah, this was a bigger stage tonight against a great opponent that played for a National Championship last year, so the stakes were higher. It's good to see them go out and pitch the way they did.

Q. For Miko in particular, in the eighth inning with JJ at the plate, and they had first and second, that's one of the best hitters in the country. To be able to strike him out there, just your thoughts on the execution from the mound?
COACH DEGGS: It was gigantic. The numbers suggest that's the move we needed to make right there, so we made it. That kid has incredible bat speed and really gets his swing off. He's very impressive. So that was the ballgame there in my mind. That confrontation, the way that confrontation went down, there was going to be a winner and a loser. You know, we were fortunate enough to elevate a fastball and get him to go under it. But he is a super dangerous player, and I thought that that played really big into our psyche as well coming off the field. That at-bat. So when you go to Miko to face JJ, that at-bat is going to change momentum one way or the other. That's why I said there is going to be a winner or a loser out of that battle right there, and whichever team gets it, is going to have a lot of momentum.

So we were fortunate to get him to go up a little bit, and he got underneath it. But super impressed with that kid. He's got great bat speed and he's going to play this game for a long time.

Q. Can you talk about Texas Tech and being in their house tomorrow and a nice sized crowd. Just what you want to see from your team?
COACH DEGGS: It ought to be a dog fight, you know. This is a raucous place. I've been coming here for years. Since my time at A&M. They're going to pack this place. They play extremely well here. We played Tech three times last year, two of them were here, so our kids have been here.

But you're going to have to play really fundamental. You can't give them anything. They're going to have to earn everything they get. They've got a really good team. Coach Tadlock is as good as there is in the country, and Ray Hayward, and J-Bob and all those guys do a great job.

So we're looking forward to it. What we try to do is take the name off the jersey, and the game is just against the game of baseball. We've got to come out and play a really good baseball game tomorrow night. It ought to be a really good game. We'll have Heath Donica on the mound, and we'll see what happens.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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