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June 23, 2017
TCU - 9, Florida - 2
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: We're excited about the win and the opportunity to get to play another game in the College World Series in Omaha.
Certainly felt good about the way Mitchell started the game for us and Jackson on their side was beyond amazing. I started thinking, after he was punching us out there so much in the first two-plus innings, has there ever been a 20-strikeout game in the World Series.
But then, you know, Merrill got on the ball and then Austen, the wind was blowing. He hit it good. He got the ball up in the wind and Humphreys did the same thing.
That just gave us some life. I know they got back within two in the next inning, but Jackson had been so good in smothering us that we got some confidence going at the plate and then put together a couple of runs to answer right back, which I thought was huge.
And Charles King threw just enough strikes, and they're an aggressive swinging team, and we made some plays behind them. So excited about the win and excited about winning 15 a season. That's an awesome accomplishment. Certainly we'd like to win a couple more, but that's a great accomplishment for our program and for this group of guys.
Q. Evan, Austen and Josh, what were your thoughts individually when the game started out with all those strikeouts in the first eight?
EVAN SKOUG: He had his A stuff going for a while there. Our scouting report had been how good his changeup was for us three left-handers that changeup put us away real quick. He did a good job mixing his pitches and we know that as long as you hit a guy a couple times we can start making adjustments, and that's when Wade and Humphreys and Merrill gets on balls and good things happen. We had some timely hitting with two strikes, and that really helped us there.
AUSTEN WADE: Obviously early. He had his fastball working and then plus-plus changeup throw, two seams at 91 miles an hour, then go to four seam 95, throwing it where he wanted to early. We basically came back after the first time through the lineup, said we can't miss our fastballs to hit and stay on the baseball as long as we can. And so everything worked in our favor.
JOSH WATSON: During that game, he came out with that fastball and was just -- that's what he was doing, just fastball, fastball, fastball, and occasionally offspeed here but mainly with that fastball.
Like Austen said, the next time through the lineup, we just went up there, saying we gotta be ready to hit.
Q. Austen, I think you said yesterday getting that first hit maybe kind of got you going a little bit. Coach talked about the confidence factor. Do you feel like today all of a sudden it kind of clicked and maybe opened up something for you guys mentally?
AUSTEN WADE: I think all season -- I mean, we are at our best when we stay on baseball. Coach Mosiello preaches it. Obviously when we become happy top spinning balls at pull sides, that's not our offense. I preached about it when we're driving balls off gap, that's when our offense is playing at its best, and I think tonight we had a lot of those swings that said we are going to tip our cap to some pitches. Obviously Jackson did a great job tonight early.
But second time through, like I said, we've got to be ready to go. And I think once we strung a few hits together, it kind of up and down our lineup said we have a little confidence, and we just kind of rolled with that.
Q. Your thoughts about facing Alex Faedo again tomorrow?
EVAN SKOUG: Excited. I mean, he put together an outstanding outing first time he pitched against us. We're excited. We owe him one. We're excited.
AUSTEN WADE: I'm looking forward to it tomorrow. Everyone has to get after it, but every guy is excited to see him again.
JOSH WATSON: Pretty much the same thing. We're going to be excited 1 through 9.
Q. Evan, what did you see from Charles that was allowing him to pitch as well as he did tonight?
EVAN SKOUG: He didn't have his A stuff today. He can usually run the fastball at mid 90s. He didn't quite have that today. He made pitches when he needed to, he got ground balls when he needed them. I think without having his best stuff he did an amazing job of competing. That's what those guys preach, is compete and just execute quality pitches, and that's what he did.
Charles picked up right where Mitchell started the game off and just gave -- he let us win. He put up a lot of zeros, gave us a chance, and offense picked him up.
Q. I think the majority of the runs you guys had came with two outs. Evan, you had the big three-run double. Is there a certain approach in those situations that was working for you?
EVAN SKOUG: It's something we practice every day in BP, getting a good pitch to hit and driving in a runner from second with two outs. Just Coach Mo putting them into those situations every day during BP. Getting good pitches to hit and executing those is what wins ballgames. If we didn't get those two-out hits, scored those runs, we probably wouldn't have won. So it was huge for us.
Q. Evan, you're No. 4 on TCU's all-time RBI list. You're also No. 4 for a single season. Your reaction to that?
EVAN SKOUG: I'm honored to be with some of those great names but currently not really interested in that. I mean, this is my third trip here and we haven't sealed the deal yet. So it will be a good time to reflect back on the season after the year's over. I'm honored. I didn't even know that.
So I think I just need to start focusing on my at-bats tomorrow and getting Jared in the strike zone and finishing this so we can move on to the championship series. Because at the end of the day, that's all that matters, winning.
Q. Evan and Austen, having been in this position last year but on the other side of it where you're sitting 2-0 and the other team is going to the losing bracket, do you think that experience aids you at all right now, and how is it different for you guys mentally?
EVAN SKOUG: I mean, for us, Austen and I both, the playoff experience here and we've made it to this stage, I guess, twice, this would be our third time.
So the first two years we had a sore taste in our mouth because we haven't been able to finish the deal. So I think now that we're so close again, we know what it feels like to be in the final four and get kicked out.
And I don't want another bad day in Omaha because you have to say goodbye to Brian Howard and Mitchell Traver, and that's the worst thing ever.
So we have that taste in our mouth, and I think that's going to help us because it brings us to a sense of urgency. And we're really going to have to compete to knock Faedo off and knock Florida off.
AUSTEN WADE: I mean, looking back at last year and how we finished off the season, obviously Evan talks about a bad taste in our mouth. I mean, for us looking back at that, I felt like we got complacent at times last year. And obviously energy switched extremely fast from our dugout to Coastal Carolina's last year. And that's a big factor at this time in year. One guy gets going everyone gets going. Body language is a big thing.
We preach that in and outside of our dugout. I think when guys are loose and basically excited to be on the field another day in Omaha, I think basically we have each other's backs. So definitely tomorrow it will be a high-energy day and I'm looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. You haven't given up more than two runs in the series here. More than three earned runs in the tournament. What do you think about when you think of that in total?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Just hoping that we can keep it under two tomorrow against the pitching that they have rested and available. You follow us every day. You know how well we've pitched in the last month and a half versus how well we pitched in the first, you know, two and a half months of the season.
So we felt like there was going to be some growing pains in middle relief, but we were going to need those older guys to really pitch well, and certainly Wymer coming of age has been a big part of that.
I have full confidence in our pitching staff. We just need to do it for another day.
Q. It seems like every time Merrill comes up he's coming up in a big spot and comes through. What have you seen from him right now that's allowing him to do that this week?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: I came really close to moving him up in the lineup today but I didn't want to mess with where we are. And I heard Sully's press conference. As a coach, there are things in your mind you know you should do. And it would be easy if it's in April. But this time of year, you don't want to send any messages to anybody that would cause somebody to panic.
But I think the key to our offense here in this tournament in Omaha has been the bottom third of our lineup. And the ability to score at any time is big. And we felt like going into the season that the strength of our team was going to be our offense. We do play good team offense; our batting average isn't great.
We keep waiting for the hitting to come around. And Ryan's a big part of that. He had a great season last year. And I'm pretty sure he'll have a chance to play professional baseball when this thing is over with. And it's nice that he's getting to do that here in his hometown.
Q. You kind of touched on it just now with your answer, but I'll still follow through. You've probably been asked this a million times, maybe not in Omaha: What's been the identity of your offense since losing Luken Baker, what is the thing your offense has done well and how have they adjusted not having the big boy in there?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: The identity of our offense hasn't changed, because we're pretty aggressive on the bases. We try and hit for the most part -- there's some free swingers in our lineup but we try to hit in deep counts. And Luken was a big loss just from a presence standpoint.
Obviously power. But the other thing about Baker is he got on base all the time. I think he finished with more walks than strikeouts. And so that was the biggest thing is that a guy that's on base, he's not stealing any bases, but he's on base for other people to drive him in.
But his presence is what we lost. But in terms of the identity of our offense, it hasn't changed at all. We're still going to be aggressive on the bases and try and get that extra base anytime we can, stealing -- big play in the game yesterday was stealing second and third with two outs. And then Merrill's -- we had the bang-bang play at home. But Merrill's hit scored two runs instead of one.
Those are the kind of things we identify with and it's not a whole lot of season left. So I doubt -- it would be awesome to somehow get our team batting average to .300 over the course of the next several days. But that's not going to happen.
Q. You talked about how you have gotten a lot of production from the bottom part of the lineup. But how important was it today to get that top third going a little bit and did you feel that coming a little bit?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Yeah, we've really worked hard in the cages the last couple of days and some early hitting in the mornings, just trying to get some of those left-handed hitters to stay on some baseballs.
I felt really good about -- Wade, when he's hitting the ball the other way, like he said, staying on the baseball, he's as good a hitter as there is out there.
And with Skoug, when he came up with bases loaded, that's a really good matchup for Evan. He's a low-ball hitter. When he fouled those two balls into the seats on the third base side, those are the best swings he's taken in a couple of weeks, even the home runs he's hit in the Regional, Super Regional. I felt if he could get one a bit elevated, he was going to put a good swing on it. And that was huge.
Confidence is a great thing. And it's good to have those two guys, in particular, feeling good about themselves going into tomorrow facing such a great pitcher.
Q. Has Jared thrown a bullpen this week? How is he feeling physically and mentally?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: He says he feels great. He stayed pretty much in normal routine. He threw a little short pen, flat ground thing that he normally does before he starts.
He's pitched on one less day's rest this year before. If he's going to ever play pro ball, he'll have to get used to it every five days. I think he'll be fine. He'll give us a chance, if he just fills up the strike zone, he'll give us a great chance.
Q. Did Jared give you feedback on Sunday, and what he thought was off for him?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: He just -- what he said up here that day, I think he felt like amped up or whatever he said. It's just a bad day, in my mind. He shouldn't be amped up. He's been here before.
If anything, if I say anything to him, it will just be trust your routine, breathe, pitch at a low heart rate and do what you do; give us a chance to make plays behind you.
Q. Back to the Big 12 Tournament, how big was that for him to come out and pitch as well as he did after that time off?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: It was huge. I knew going into the game he was going to have to pitch. I was hoping to get a solid five innings or so out of Mitchell. And King can get through lineups quick if he fills the strike zone up enough.
Like Evan said, that was far and away not his best stuff. But they're a pretty aggressive swinging club, at least they did today. So even when he was in some hitter's counts, he gets that ball sinking and he can get some bad swings, some ground balls.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports