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June 27, 2017

Paul Mainieri

Kramer Robertson

Jared Poche

Omaha, Nebraska

Florida - 6, LSU - 1

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by LSU.

COACH MAINIERI: First of all, I'd like to congratulate the University of Florida and Kevin O'Sullivan for their first national championship in college baseball.

Kevin does a phenomenal job. Recruits great athletes. And they earned it. They beat us twice. And they're a very deserving national champion. And I'm happy for Kevin. He works hard and he's had several teams that maybe were even better than this team and probably sat up here as disappointed as I am right now. But he finally got his championship, and I'm happy for Kevin.

Also I would like to thank all the people in Omaha for opening up their arms again like they do every year. Just phenomenal. What an unbelievable experience for all of the staff and all of the players, anybody associated with our school. Just a well-run, first-class operation. And we love coming here. Hopefully we'll be back again real soon.

Thirdly, before I talk about the game, I'd just like to thank all the LSU fans and people that have followed the program. They came up here in droves from Baton Rouge and all parts of Louisiana and really throughout the country.

And we're really sorry we couldn't deliver the championship for them. I know they wanted it badly. They encouraged us, and we represent a wonderful state, and I wish we could have finished the job.

Last summer, when things were really not going well in Baton Rouge for our city, we went through an awful lot of heartbreak. We had an unfortunate situation, and then it was followed by some riots, and then we had an unbelievable ambush of three police officers that was about as sad a thing as I've ever dealt with.

Then we had this awful flood, and it really affected hundreds of thousands of people. And I remember my wife saying to me last summer, she said, "Man, wouldn't it be great if you could go out and win the national championship this spring to unify the community and give them something to be happy about and be proud of?" And I've never -- I never forgot that she said that.

I don't really talk about it that much with the players, but in my heart was something we really wanted to do. And even though we came up a little bit short, two victories short, I think we did a lot of things this year to make the people in our community proud and our state proud.

We've won five different championships, won our bracket out here, and we just lost a couple of heartbreaking games in the Finals.

But I know these players to my right and all the players in that clubhouse gave it everything that they had. And I don't think they have anything to be ashamed of. And I hope that the people of Louisiana and in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, et cetera, are proud of our team.

I think they should be. They're a great group of kids. They're wonderful young men. And this is just the cruelty of what we do. You know, you've had seven coaches now sit up here and probably say the same thing, that you go into it with hopes of getting to Omaha. You go into it with hopes of getting to the national championship and winning it. But at the end of the day only one team gets to stand proud and happy that they won the national championship.

Everybody else lost two games in their last tournament or series or weekend, whatever it is, and it's an awful feeling, whether it happens in the Regional, Super Regional or in Omaha. It's an awful feeling to come up a little bit short.

But that doesn't mean we're not proud, and I'm really proud of our team, especially the guys like these two guys who won't be with us as we go forward, two four-year seniors who gave everything in their heart to LSU.

So, again, we came up a little short, but we're very, very proud.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Jared, after the first inning, how did you kind of settle down to limit the damage early on?
JARED POCHÉ: As a pitcher, the only thing you can control is once you let go of the baseball, you can't control anything that happens after that.

So, you know, I just stuck with that. And guys have been making plays for me all year, my entire career. Unfortunately kicked the ball around a little bit, but these guys -- I'd go to war with all these guys on this team.

Like Coach said, we just came up a little bit short. And that's it.

Q. Kramer, you guys had those chances there the last couple of innings. What was the mood like in the dugout at that point? Have to imagine there was a lot of belief in there, and can you kind of contrast that, I guess, with the --
KRAMER ROBERTSON: As long as there are outs on the board, we still believe, regardless of whether we're down 2-to-1 in the seventh and eighth or down 6-to-1 going into the last inning.

You just always believe that you're going to find a way. And we had our opportunities in the seventh and eighth inning there. Unfortunately, it was a weird play in the seventh inning that I've never seen, and in the eighth inning we got it going again. We just didn't get it done. Those guys have blown them up in the same situation, again, they've been getting the job done their whole career, there's nobody else I'd rather have up there. Just didn't work out for us today.

And it's unfortunate, but we're holding our heads high.

Q. Both of you, you battled throughout this College World Series coming back against Oregon State, and both of these games you were right there at the end. What kind of pride do you have in this team and the ability to fight, and what are you going to remember most about this group?
JARED POCHÉ: I mean, we've done it all year. Like Kramer said, we have the never -- we're never out of it until the last out's made. And we kind of pride ourselves on that, just never give up. I don't know the numbers, how many games we've come from behind and won, but I would imagine it being a lot.

And definitely going to remember this team for -- it's definitely one of the more special teams I've been on in my four years, just the relationships that we've built throughout the season. In the beginning, August, you have your incoming freshmen coming in, you get to know those guys and see what they can do on the field.

And then the guys that have been on the team for the past years, just it's relationships that are going to last for a very long time, and it's one of those things that we won't -- I probably won't ever be able to play with the guy to my left or Cole Freeman or Greg again, but most of these guys I will never be able to take the field with these guys again.

KRAMER ROBERTSON: It's a special team. It's tough. Like Poché said, you don't get to play with them again. I think that's the hardest thing.

You always think you're going to win it. And for the finality of it all is tough. But I'm at peace with my career, as I'm sure Jared is as well. I gave everything I had to this university and to this team. It's tough to think it's over. But like I said, I'm at peace with everything. I gave everything I had. Poché gave everything he had, and we just didn't win the national championship. We got second place, but it was a special group of guys in there, and we made relationships that will last forever.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Questions for Coach.

Q. I have to ask you about the controversial play there in the seventh inning. What did the umpire tell you about the interference call?
COACH MAINIERI: He said that our baserunner did not slide directly into the base and made contact with the fielder and consequently he called interference. That was the explanation. I don't know. I haven't seen the tape of it.

From my vantage point, when the play happened, I didn't think there was anything wrong. It was a slow-developing double play and there was some contact there.

Now, if our guy didn't slide directly into the base and he made contact with and altered the play, then it was a correct call. But I don't know what the video has shown. I haven't looked at it yet.

Q. Kind of the same question we asked the players, what will you remember about this veteran group?
COACH MAINIERI: This is always the hardest part, James, of what I have to do, is to say goodbye to kids. And these next 48, 72 hours are the worst two or three days of the season.

And especially when you have to say goodbye to so many wonderful young men that have given so much to the program. I don't know if I can just say I'll remember one thing. And Jared and Kramer's case, we've been through four years together. And other guys, Cole Freeman it's two years, Deichmann, three years.

There's a lot of things that happened throughout those times, a lot of awesome experiences that we'll cherish forever. And other times, you know, that were part of the maturation process for young men, that they have to go through.

It's not easy being an athlete in college baseball, especially at a place like LSU. The idea of being an LSU baseball player is a great thing. You play in front of big crowds, big games. Omaha, national championships you're going for. The flipside of that is that's what's expected of you and that's an awful lot of pressure to put on young men that are 18 to 22 years old and the coach is demanding and everybody is demanding.

So it's all part of them growing and becoming prepared for life after baseball or life after college. And so there's a lot of things I'll remember about these kids. These two to my right are very, very special to me.

And there's a lot of them in that clubhouse that are very special to me.

Q. It's going to go down as a 6-to-1 game but seemed like the top of the seventh and top of the eighth runners on the corners, nobody out, seemed like you were about to take over the game and freakish things happen?
COACH MAINIERI: The whole game was kind of bizarre. Jared goes out and the first batter, routine ground ball to first and we don't make the play and it leads to a run, and then we pick a runner off and we don't -- we weren't able to throw them out at second base and then they get a base hit.

So you feel like Jared's pitching really well, and yet you've given them two runs. And their kid was really outstanding and he was overpowering us for five or six innings here. He was good.

Seems like every pitcher Florida has throws mid-90s, good breaking balls. We were battling. And we weren't getting much to show for it. But ultimately then he tired a little bit and we started to swing the bat and all of a sudden we've got first and third and I think Josh drove in the run on the same play and ended up first and third with nobody out.

Was that Josh? No, it wasn't Josh, it was -- because Papierski was coming up. Who was seven? That's right. Right. Slaughter singled, so we had runners on first and third. And often we use the safety squeeze in that situation, but I just felt like Pap was swing the bat really well and he was going to get the job done. And he put a ball in play in the middle of the infield, which certainly was going to tie the game for us. They probably would have turned the double play because Pap is not a fleet of foot runner, but it was probably going to be close. It was a slow-developing play, but certainly we had the game tied at that point.

And then the call. And something that -- we talked to the base runners all the time. They know the rule. They know what they're supposed to do. Slide directly into the base.

Their buttocks and legs have to hit the ground first. You can slide through the bag as long as it's in a straight line to second base. The umpire said we didn't do that. And I don't know if that was the correct call or not. I have no idea. I haven't looked at a video.

My baserunner told me he did slide directly into the base. The umpire told me he didn't. So somebody's not telling the truth to me. I don't know who it is. We'll find out, though, I can assure you of that.

So of course not only do they call the double play, they put the runner back at third base, and then Beau smokes one right at the centerfielder I think, if I'm not mistaken, and we don't end up scoring. The next inning, same thing, we have runners on first and third, nobody out. We have our three and four hole hitters coming up, man, a golden opportunity. Antoine's driven in, I don't know, 60 runs. He's only hit two home runs where he's driven it in himself. He's as clutch a hitter as we have on our team. First pitch, he smokes one foul, gets to a two-strike count, the kid on court is a great breaking ball and fools Antoine and he swings and misses. Bring in a new pitcher, now we've got first and third and I'm debating whether or not to have Cole run because I figure if he steals second, they're probably going to walk Deichmann.

But at that point I didn't care. I wanted to get the go-ahead run into scoring position. I thought Cole could steal the base. If they decided to walk Deichmann, I felt confident that Zach Watson would come through like he has so many times.

So Cole takes off. Deichmann swings at the first pitch, which is fine. I'm happy he did. And looks like it's going to be a base hit. And their first baseman backhands a baseball and makes a great play and throws him at the plate and I think we hit another line drive right at somebody.

So we felt snake bit right there. The way the game started defensively the first couple innings and those two innings offensively, just felt like it just maybe wasn't meant to be for us tonight.

And things got out of hand there in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the score is not indicative of the kind of game that it was, I don't think, at all. I think the two teams were very evenly matched. Obviously Florida has great pitching, power arms. And but they have those every year. That's their hallmark. It's kind of the games you kind of have constantly in the SEC, those kind of games. We're used to them. We just didn't do it for us to win either one of these games.

Q. Considering all the guys that came back for their senior year this year, kind of uncanny to have that many guys after getting drafted last summer, would you say this summer was like unity-wise the closest team you've had that you've coached?
COACH MAINIERI: I don't really like to compare teams in different areas like that. We've had some great teams here and great kids throughout the time and very close-knit teams. When you play baseball at LSU, you become part of the LSU family and it's a lifetime contract.

And I can't tell you how many former players have reached out to me while we've been in Omaha, reached out to the current players the other players. It's what part of makes working and playing at LSU very special. And you saw the fan support that came out here.

Everybody loves their athletic teams at LSU. And the LSU athletic teams want to do to make everybody proud. And this team was very close-knit. We had great not just senior leadership just great leadership within the team and we had some young players that performed at a really high level and are great kids and learned from those older players, and they're going to be the ones that carry the torch forward for us.

I feel like the future is very bright. There's some things we need to get better at, as we always do. We'll do a thorough analysis of our team and where we are, and we'll try to keep getting better.


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