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June 21, 2017
LSU - 7, Florida State - 4
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by LSU.
COACH MAINIERI: First of all, I would like to congratulate Mike and Florida State Seminoles on a fantastic year.
People had counted them out midway through the season. And, boy, they put it together. They were really, really a tough team.
And I think the world of Mike Martin. He's one of the classiest guys we've ever seen in college baseball. He's really one of my idols. I think the world of him. It's an honor to compete against him. And I know that a lot continues to be made of him of not winning the final game here in Omaha, but as many times as he's been here, I hope people would just kind of let that go because Mike's done a phenomenal job for a lot of years, impacted a lot of lives, and I think he's a phenomenal coach. So I hope you don't mind me sitting on a pedestal and saying something like that, but that's how I feel.
As far as the LSU Fighting Tigers, it's exciting to know we get to stay for a couple more days in Omaha. We love coming here. And the other night our game against Oregon State didn't go very well. Started out with bad luck with Eric's injury, and after about the fifth inning we didn't play very well and I thought Oregon State was really outstanding.
They have a tremendous ballclub. So we're happy to have another shot at them. Pat does a tremendous job with that team. And it's going to take our very best effort to be able to have any success against them, but we're looking forward to it. To get there, we had to play a really good game today. And I thought we did.
Jared was the key to the game, obviously. Florida State leads the country with base on balls and I think Jared walked two in eight innings. Just coming out right away and showing great command I thought set the tone for the game and then we had the big inning. So happy for Jake Slaughter. What a moment in that young man's life to hit a three-run homer at TD Ameritrade Park in the College World Series on national television in front of 22,000 people. Believe it or not, Jake, moments continue to get better than this.
And I was just really happy for him. I thought Zach Watson had a big game for us, big double RBI there. Kramer got a great jump on the contact play and was able to sneak a run in for us. And both of the runs we tacked on there in the ninth inning I thought were huge.
I wanted to send PochÃ© out to see if he could finish it up. I would have rather seen two solo homers than a walk and single so Zach could come in with nobody on base and let it rip, and, boy, was he letting it rip. He was really something to see.
A great victory for us. Congratulations to Jared PochÃ© becoming the winningest pitcher in LSU baseball and we're excited for him, and what an honor and great accomplishment.
Q. Jared, what's this record mean to you now that you hold it by yourself?
JARED POCHÃ‰: If you would have told me four years ago before I started my career at LSU that in four short years that you're going to be in Omaha and you're going to break the all-time wins record, you know, there's no way I would have believed that.
This record is obviously -- it's definitely not an individual award. Having guys like Kramer and Alex Bregman and all those guys behind me over the course of my career making play after play, picking me up on defense and scoring runs from games I throw, I couldn't have done it without those guys.
And I see this more of a team award, and I guess I'll just get the credit for it.
Q. Jake, when did you find out you were in the starting lineup, and was that a pleasant surprise to you?
JAKE SLAUGHTER: I just showed up to warmups and saw my name in the lineup. Yeah, it was really exciting because I love to go out there and compete. I was ready to help my team win.
Q. Jake, right before you went up, Coach called you over, which he does with batters pretty regularly. I think Beau had just squeezed a run in. What was going through your head, and what did Coach do to calm you down or whatever he said to you?
JAKE SLAUGHTER: He came up to me said he wants me to drive these runs in, not try another squeeze. I told him, yes, sir. And I just wanted to go out there and get the job done.
Q. Jared, seemed like every time they got somebody on against you, you were able to get the big ground ball and let your defense work behind you, just kind of do your thing. How important was it to get those and to really stay in the strike zone and not give up a lot of free passes today?
JARED POCHÃ‰: Goal coming in, wanted to pound the zone early and often. Couple of walks, but I was able to get, like you said, a couple of key ground balls. For me, the biggest thing working was my fastball coming in, was probably the best it's been all season. I was able to put pitches where I wanted pretty much all night. And guys get on and hit that ground ball, and guys behind me, those guys made some unbelievable plays. First time I've ever been a part of a 5-4 double play. And like the fourth or fifth. So that was pretty cool.
Q. Kramer, can you talk a little bit about, first of all, Greg kind of lightened the fuse in that inning and watching a young guy go up there, do what he did in that second inning.
KRAMER ROBERTSON: Greg got the ball rolling for us there. Seems like the last few games we haven't had a lead-off guy get on and spark something. Lead-off double there. And he gave our dugout some energy and gave the guys some confidence and then had some big hits after them, and Jake came up.
I was just so happy for him. He's worked so hard. And he got a good pitch to hit and he did his job. And when I saw the ball go over the fence, I couldn't help but smile and be happy for him. Like Coach said, what a moment for him.
I understand how it feels to have your ups and downs, and for him to have a high like that is pretty special. I'm excited for him. It was a big hit for us, too, three-run homer there.
Q. When you see -- I know you guys see him every day. What's the wow factor seeing Hess go out there and hit 98 and break off curveballs like that in an environment like this?
JARED POCHÃ‰: He was throwing his terminator tonight. I don't know if you saw his new haircut that he got, the Wild Thing. That's what it's called, the terminator, right, the fastball? Charlie? Uncle Charlie? I think he had 100 tonight, too. So, dude, you see 84 from the left side, next thing he comes in 97 from the right side. It's a hard speed for the hitters to get.
He's a big part of why we're here today. He's stepped up ginormous for us, and couldn't be more proud of him.
KRAMER ROBERTSON: Like PochÃ© said, I think he got some extra velocity from his new haircut, some extra confidence. But he's awesome. I was saying the other day, borderline psychotic, but that's what you want, a guy to go out in the ninth inning. I don't talk to him. I've tried to in the past when we go out there, but I don't say anything to him anymore. I let him do his thing. That's about as sharp as I've ever seen him tonight. In the upper 90s, and I'm glad he's on our team and we don't have to face him in the ninth.
JAKE SLAUGHTER: He's my roommate. I'm around him every day. Ultimate competitor. I'm confident when he's on the mound that he can win a game for us.
Q. Kramer, just being Jared's teammate over the last few years and seeing the way he's battled and given for this team, what's it like for you to see him get this milestone for everything he's done throughout his career here?
KRAMER ROBERTSON: There's nobody more deserving, there's nobody who has been as unselfish, more of a team guy than Jared PochÃ©, and you love that. We came in together as freshmen.
I can remember the first time I saw him, talked to him, I couldn't understand him. I didn't know what he was trying to say to me. First time I saw him on the mound, I knew he was the real deal and he had something special.
He has more than just ability to pitch. He's got something else inside him that makes him special, and there's a reason that he's won more games than anybody else, to put on this jersey. It's been an honor to be his teammate. And I'm going to be forever thankful for that.
Q. Jared, I think everybody kind of knew the situation going in what happened with Eric, that you'd need to go out and have a long outing. So were you kind of cognizant of that before the game? Do you try to pitch to that to try to get those quick innings? How do you kind of --
JARED POCHÃ‰: I try not to think about it, but it's obviously in the back of my mind. The more you dwell on it, the worse the outcome of the game becomes for me. So I just try to go out there and attack the zone early and often, and was able to get a lot of early-pitch outs, and I was able -- the next thing you know, I'm in the seventh inning, I think it was 83 pitches. You start thinking about going a complete game to save the bullpen, and give up two innings in the ninth as quick as that. And I'm glad we only had to use one guy. I think Hess will be ready to go Friday or Saturday. He didn't throw many pitches.
So I just wanted to save as much of the pen as possible.
Q. Jake, could you describe the home run? And also I saw a fan tried to catch it, and the ball actually like rolled back on the field. Did you happen to get that ball back by any chance or anybody get that for you?
JAKE SLAUGHTER: No, I don't think -- I didn't get the ball back. But I just went up there and just wanted to get a good swing on the ball and do my job, and when I hit it, I really thought it was not a good chance of going out. And I was just really happy that it went over the fence. I was fired up that I got to give us a big lead.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Was it a hunch what made you put Slaughter in the lineup, the matchup, or what were you thinking?
COACH MAINIERI: Well, you know, Jake has played a lot this year. And that's the one spot in our order that is a little bit, has fluidity to it. Coomes has done some really good things. He had two hits the first game and Jake hit the three-run homer today. I guess you could call it a gut feeling. I like the matchup of Jake against their starting pitcher better than I like Coomes against their starting pitcher today.
And Jake's been having some really good batting practice sessions. Yesterday our three-man ballgame he was awesome. He was hitting a lot of balls really hard and looked like he was confident. Just went with a hunch.
Q. Seeing all the different hair styles, on the eve of such a big game, how do you deal with that as a coach? You say this is something they need to do, or do you just try to ignore it, or what did you think?
COACH MAINIERI: I ignored it before the game. I didn't ignore it after the game. I didn't notice all the other ones. I only noticed Kramer's. And his hair will be back to normal color tomorrow at practice. I don't know what the other haircuts even look like. I didn't even pay attention.
But I didn't -- what did Hess have?
Q. Major League.
COACH MAINIERI: The movie? You mean like Wild Thing's haircut? That's what he has? I didn't even know that.
Q. Gotta color your hair.
COACH MAINIERI: I need some hair for me to color. I'm not big into the haircuts and the coloring of the hair. You know, it's a little bit of an attention grabber, and I thought that it would be best if everybody just does stuff as a team and let's go out there and play good.
So I don't think Kramer's hair or Hess's hair had anything to do with their performance. I think their ability has much more to do with it than the color of their hair or haircuts. I wanted them to have fun, but I thought that was a little bit of an extreme thing.
I'm such a fuddydud, aren't I? I didn't see Kramer's hair until in the dugout. When I went to -- when I went to pregame meal, he wasn't there. And I had to get back because I had some stuff to do in preparation for the game. And when I got on the bus, he was already at the back of the bus. He told me he was wearing a hood around all day so I wouldn't see him. When I saw it in the dugout, my eyes were as big as grapefruits. But I didn't say anything to him until after the game.
Maybe he's trying to look like his mother, I don't know.
Q. The last couple of weeks, almost like this legend has grown around Hess. Could you talk a little bit more and how good you felt bringing him in and how he's developed?
COACH MAINIERI: I was hoping that I wouldn't have to bring him in tonight. I was hoping that Jared could finish what he started. PochÃ© was unbelievable. Dedicate this answer to James Moran. It was not vintage PochÃ© tonight. He was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes. Got a lot of early counts. He only had 98 pitches going into the ninth inning, and we were at the part of the order where he had been doing pretty well against some guys.
So I was hoping that he could get three quick ones, we wouldn't have to use Hess. But after the two home runs, I thought it was time to bring him in. Zack is a -- don't be misled by his demeanor on the mound.
He looks a little amped up or psycho. Guys are calling him psycho, but that guy is the furthest from psycho as there is. He's very intelligent. Very cool customer.
You bring him in the game. You wouldn't expect that he would be a freshman, how calm and cool he is when you bring him in. And as soon as the game's over, he comes back down off that adrenalin rush and talks very normally and very clear.
But God has blessed him with a good right arm. I think he was throwing up to 97, 98 miles an hour, I don't know what the different guns were saying, but on the board I think I saw 97s. And he's got command.
He was dotting up. And he's got a nice breaking ball as well. So if there's a legend brewing here, then so be it. He's outstanding. And obviously he's having a major impact on the success of our team.
Q. Just a thought on Mike Martin at Florida State and you guys knocked them out in two. And obviously another empty trip for him and what your feelings are as they leave?
COACH MAINIERI: I think Mike Martin will go down in history as one of the greatest coaches in all of college baseball. He certainly will have more wins than anybody else.
And I just think way, way too much is being played about him not getting to win the final game in Omaha. It's really a shame. Was it Marv Levy or some of these other great coaches that never won it at all? Does that diminish their career? Does that keep them from being talked about as great coaches of all time. I wish it wouldn't, because what he's done in his career at Florida State is very rare.
How many years in a row has he been to the NCAA tournament? How many years does he have? Close to 40.
Are you kidding me? This guy year in, year out has had one of the best teams in the country. He's done it with class. I don't know anybody that doesn't like Mike Martin. I certainly think the world of him. He's a great person, a great coach. And he's impacted a lot of young people's lives.
And whether he ever wins the last game in Omaha or not should never diminish his legacy one iota as far as I'm concerned.
Q. Kramer mentioned it, but getting Greg on to lead off in the second, after kind of having to scrape by those first two games, did you think it just loosened everybody up?
COACH MAINIERI: I thought Deichmann's double in the second inning did it, loosened everybody up. Kramer led off the game, hit a ball as hard as he could, right at the second base. You start to think, oh man, is this going to be another game where we're hitting balls right at people without any luck.
When Deichmann got that double to start it, and then Watson came through, Watson had a couple of huge at-bats for us tonight. Should have been a RBI single, but Greg had great base running.
He had to freeze to make sure it wasn't caught by the shortstop, so he wasn't able to score. But that got us going.
And I tell you, honestly, what was the final score? 7-4? We could have or should have scored more runs. We had guys on base so many innings and we left a lot of guys in scoring position.
We had guys, lead-off hitters on base often during the game. And a couple times we couldn't execute and get them around. But it's hard to be too mad at them when you score seven runs in one game in the College World Series against a team like Florida State.
I thought Greg's swing that first at-bat was huge in terms of breaking the ice for our team. And then we had some great execution. I think it was Beau Jordan had the safety squeeze to get us a run. And Slaughter hit the three-run homer. It was great to get out to a lead, especially after the way the other night went. I mean, confidence can be a fragile thing.
And after a tough loss, it's always nice to come out and get off to a good start.
Q. After what happened with Eric and the hit you guys took from a depth standpoint, how important was it for PochÃ© to pitch into the ninth inning tonight?
COACH MAINIERI: Well, we used a lot of guys out of the bullpen the other day with very much mixed results. And we wouldn't be able to play on Friday if we didn't win tonight. I was hoping PochÃ© would give us six innings. I was ready to go to Hess in the seventh but didn't need to.
Then I was hoping I didn't need to use him at all. We sent him out there for the ninth inning. Those two runs in the top of the ninth were huge to give us a bit of breathing room to send PochÃ© out there. Unfortunately they gave up the two home runs, then I had to bring Hess in. But PochÃ© was just the man tonight.
I mean, he put the team on his shoulders and carried us to the promised land. We needed that win to keep our season alive to win our 50th game, to make the Final Four, to have a shot at Oregon State to give Alex Lange another chance to start a game. There was a lot riding on this ballgame tonight, and PochÃ© was a cool customer and just went out there and pitched as well as I've ever seen him pitch.
Q. Jake made a couple of nice plays defensively, had the one on the double play where he really stretched out there. Just talk about that a little bit?
COACH MAINIERI: I told Jake, when we were leaving the dugout to go to the locker room after the game, I said if you would have picked up that ball that Freeman threw to first base -- Freeman made a nice stab on -- was it Busby that hit the ball up the middle? Shading him up the middle.
And Cole made a great play but threw it in the dirt. I said, if you would have came up with that pick, you would have played the perfect game tonight at first base defensively, and plus hit a three-run homer. He said, yeah, I know I should have had it.
Shows that his standards for himself have been raised. But I thought Jake -- I think Jake brings a lot of athleticism to our team when he's out there at first base. He's got range. He's got good hands.
This is a guy that's going to play one of the infield positions for us next year, probably second or third base is my best guess. But you've got a really good athlete playing first base with him over there, and he's done a really good job there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports