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June 27, 2017
Florida - 6, LSU - 1
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by University of Florida.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, first of all, I'd like to congratulate LSU's team. They had an unbelievable season. I know the heartache they feel right now. We've been on that side of it quite a few times. And they just had a heck of a season, and want to congratulate them first.
And secondly, you know, you never know how you're going to feel when you get the last out in the College World Series, and I'm still kind of numb. But just overwhelmed with emotions for our players.
They're the ones that put in all the hard work and have to juggle the classroom and all that type of thing. And our staff, Craig, Brad, we've been together for 10 years, and we've been working so hard to get to this point.
And it's all about the players to my right and the players on the bus, and I'm just really happy for them. I really am.
We've got a great support staff. Ann Hughes has been with us for day one, Buddy Munroe, who can't be here, I recruited him when I was at Clemson and have known him for probably 12 years. And obviously Jon Michelini, our trainer; Paul Chandler; Aggie, our equipment manager; and Dan Apple, our SID. A terrific group of people who seem to be pulling in the same direction.
And I'm just really happy for these guys here because they deserve it and they're the ones who go out there and play. And we'll let it sink in and we'll enjoy this for a little bit.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Tyler, what was working for you tonight and how did you feel to be able to shut down that offense for as long as you were able to?
TYLER DYSON: I just tried to get ahead early and let them get themselves out and trust the defense behind me, and that's how I feel I was successful early. I was able to locate the slider, backdoor to lefties and get early ground balls and early flyouts. And the wind blowing in in this big park, they're a flyball-hitting team, so tried to let themselves get out and try to get ahead in the count.
Q. Deacon, 21st birthday today.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Oh, no.
Q. In any event, your approach at the at-bat in the eighth inning and obviously your big day, beginning with your lead-off hit, I guess, reaching on base in the first inning, what was working for you all day?
DEACON LIPUT: Well, going into today's game, we saw the wind blowing in. We all knew that the long ball really wasn't going to come into play, so we knew we had to shorten up our swing and kind of put the ball on the ground there on the line and hope for the best.
And something our team takes pride in is no matter where you hit it, you hustle. That was able to work out for me at my first at-bat.
Q. Tyler, second career start today. You win the College World Series clincher, has that set in for you, the magnitude of this?
TYLER DYSON: It hasn't. I think this start went a little better than my first one. But just being out there and helping these guys win and watching what the pitchers did this week, learning from that. And I didn't get much sleep last night thinking about this game, just going out there, executing the pitch call and hopefully trying to get the last out, which Jackson did.
Q. Jackson, what did you think when you got sent down to the bullpen and when you were able to come in and JJ made that play for you?
JACKSON KOWAR: I mean, I had talked to Sully early in the game and I knew there was a chance I would come in. I was feeling really fresh the past couple of weeks. I knew I could get a couple of outs and start tomorrow if necessary. So I know on the play with JJ, that's a heads-up play.
To throw on the money right there in a situation like that is awesome. He's a catcher by trade. That's not even his position. Our defense has done that all year for us. So it's nothing new for our guys behind us. They've really given our pitching staff the most confidence in the world.
Q. Tyler, talk about what it's like to go head to head against one of the best LSU pitchers ever in Jared PochÃ©?
TYLER DYSON: He's obviously had a great career at LSU. I knew going in it's really me versus their offense and him versus our offense, and I went in executed the pitch call and tried to get ahead early in the count, and I felt like our offense would pick us up, and the defense played great behind me. So it was easy to do that.
Q. Tyler, you having made one start, what was your expectation how deep you would go tonight and how much did the outing against Wake Forest help you, even though it wasn't a start, prepare for this one?
TYLER DYSON: I was prepared to go all nine if needed. But I had the mindset of going there until Sully took me out. So just feeding off the confidence from that Wake Forest outing really helped me think that I could go deep in the ballgame. So just basically basing off that and trying to go out there.
Q. Jackson and Deacon, I'm curious from your perspective, how do you describe the personality of this team? It feels like you guys almost flew under the radar, so business-like and kind of getting the job done, but what has been the key for this group to come together as group?
JACKSON KOWAR: I think this season didn't start off great for us. I think a lot of people counted us out. But I think the biggest thing has been these freshmen came in and jelled right away, which was huge, and the older guys. Really there's no issues with getting those guys acclimated.
I think just having some of those veterans like Alex, Mike and JJ, three straight trips to Omaha is all they know, that's all they've known here. Sometimes we appear pretty business-like, but it's a lot of confidence I think getting some one-run wins early in the season and having Michael Byrne. That guy has been the hero this year for us.
So I think having that guy at the end of the pen is why we have so much confidence and able to win so many one-run games, and that's why you come together as a team and winning got contagious for us there. It's an unbelievable group of guys and probably my favorite team I've been on by far.
DEACON LIPUT: I think something that made this team so special was I was actually talking about it with my dad was in each and every game we won, seemed like someone new stepped up. I think what made our team so special was you never knew who that person was going to be. And throughout this season, it's definitely been a long season, a hard season, but I think our team did a really good job of maintaining a level head and truly believing in ourselves, whether or not other people did. We have a lot of heart. We're really close. We're like a family. And I wouldn't trade these guys for anything.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. You're champions. Questions for Coach.
Q. I see Finn running around here, you were playing catch with him earlier. What's it like to celebrate this historic moment not just with your team but with your family, too, and just having everyone around?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: It's hard to describe in words. To be able to first have a job at Florida and to be able to experience this with my kids is undescribable.
There's things that happen, you know, that just put a smile on your face. And you've been around them now for the last two weeks, and they're amazing kids.
For them to experience this, and the rest of my family is here, a lot of them traveled a long way to get here, and to have them experience this with me means the world. This means the world to me.
Q. Tyler said he didn't get a lot of sleep last night. What was it like for you?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I never sleep. (Laughter) I mean, like I said, when you have a four- and six-year-old like I do that have a lot of personality, there's no need for an alarm clock.
I actually slept okay. I trust this team. And I didn't put a whole lot of stock into the outcome of the game. I thought if we could get a good start from Tyler and we could get some timely hits, we'd have a chance.
And at that point it was really out of my hands. Obviously we thought about the lineup, about playing Horvath in center and DHing Nelly. Nelly was dealing with a little bit of a virus bug this morning.
And so I just trusted our guys and didn't focus too much on the outcome, to be honest with you. I just focused on us playing a good game against LSU and whatever happened, happened.
Q. Your last five games you didn't commit an error and you had some incredible defensive plays. What factor did that play in you winning the national title?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: About as big as anything that we've done on the field. Obviously our starting pitching was outstanding, but when you go five games without making an error and you don't beat yourself, it just makes it more difficult on the other team that you're not giving them more outs, they're working with 27 outs.
And we take pride in our defense. We take pride in how we play fundamentally. And Craig and Brad do an unbelievable job, Lars as well, of handling position players.
And we handled the ball. And it goes back to recruiting. We recruit a lot of baseball players. Dalton Guthrie and India and Deacon Liput were all high school shortstops and Christian Hicks was a high school shortstop. We tried to recruit players that have a high baseball IQ. And when you have players that know the game, they tend to know the difference between hitting and playing defense, because at this age a lot of kids take their bat out on defense if they're having a tough game offensively, and our kids have learned to separate both parts of the game.
Q. Kevin, what were your expectations for Tyson tonight? Here's a freshman who gets overshadowed by some of the bigger names on the pitching staff, and to have him come out and perform the way he did on this stage?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: He just continued to get better and better throughout the season as it went on, but there were inconsistencies there and you knew it was there.
My expectation, to be honest with you, was probably five or six, and then you can see where we're at in the ballgame. He was probably even -- he was good tonight. He was good tonight. He sunk the ball and trusted his defense. I thought his stuff last week against Wake was even a tick better. He has a chance to be really, really good. He's only been pitching two years. That's why he's only in a set position. He's not even in a wind-up yet and he has to learn a third pitch.
When he comes off this summer, he'll work on throwing another windup and learn to slow the ball down a hair with a changeup. And once those things come together for him, I think he's got a chance to be really, really good.
Q. Your hunch to go to Kowar out of the bullpen, I know it was originally designed for Byrne to get all nine outs at the end, what made you decide to go with Jackson and how did it work out?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, first when we got to the ballpark today, Jackson said he had a couple of innings in him if I needed him. I didn't really think about it until he said something to me. The biggest factor is I didn't want to see Alex Lange tomorrow, to be honest with you.
That was the situation that was not going to probably work in our favor to be honest with you. He's very competitive. He's an older kid, and I thought about starting Jackson in the eighth, and my gut told me to stay with Michael.
And I thought he made a good pitch on Robertson and it was just outside the out the reach of Deacon's glove. Then to have a sacrifice and now if he would have gave up a ringing double down the left field line or something, I would second-guess myself, I should have went to Jackson. But when it got to that point, Michael just wasn't getting many swings and misses. He was getting the two strikes a lot but couldn't quite put anybody away.
And with Deichmann up I thought at that point it wasn't a good matchup with Michael. And Jackson got that plus change and we needed an out. And I thought he was the best option at that point to get a strikeout to slow it down. And it worked out. But sometimes you make these decisions and they don't work out and you look like a fool. And sometimes you make them and the players make you look like you're smart.
So it's just one of those things.
Q. Coach, when you think back on the course of the season and kind of the moments that led to this point, was there some defining moment where you kind of realized that this group -- obviously the talent is there like it is every year, but was there some moment that made you realize, hey, this group has come together, they've got that intangible thing that it takes to get this far?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I don't know if there's one point. I think after the Auburn series, that was a difficult one, if I remember correctly, we played LSU the next weekend. We won two out of three. And maybe our team started believing a little bit.
And trust me now, I've got the utmost respect for LSU's team. Between the lineups that we've had to face here the last couple of weeks with Wake Forest and Louisville and TCU and obviously now LSU, they have not been easy lineups to navigate through and everybody knows we don't have a tremendous amount of depth this year.
I don't know if there was a defining moment. But I did sense that there was a sense of togetherness in the locker room and knowing we'll never give up. What happens when we have pitching like we do, there's never like a really long stretch of losses. You'll lose a game or two but then you get back on the winning side of things because your pitching is what it is. And we've always played good defense.
I think the other thing, we got better offensively. Even though after today's game we only have one guy hitting .300, I think somebody told me that at the end of the game but we were hitting like .235 as a team at the beginning of March but we got progressively better. We figured out what we needed to do to score runs.
We hit and ran more than we normally have; we ran the bases more aggressively, stole bases, and we focused on having a better approach with two outs and two strikes. And we had runners in scoring position. We've just got to have our best at-bats and be smart at what we're doing.
Q. Can you describe the play that JJ made in the eighth inning?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: It was a heads-up play. The thing is he bounced off aggressively, and he threw the ball on the right side of the bag. The ball was thrown on the first base side; he's safe. Made a perfect throw. Quick feet. Probably saved the game, to be honest with you. That play probably saved us the game.
Q. You once told me that you felt like if you could win one you could break through and lead to multiple. Just what -- between this and the stadium improvements what could it say for the future of Gator baseball going forward?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Just trying to enjoy this one right now. You're putting pressure on me to win another one already. (Laughter) I don't know. I think Florida baseball is in great shape right now. We don't talk about our facility. I know there's plans for a facility that type of thing, but it's never hurt us in recruiting.
As a matter of fact, I'm looking forward to -- we've got -- our freshman class is on campus right now. I'm looking forward to seeing those guys when we get back. And in this business you get to enjoy this for a bit, but there's a lot of factors that go into it, too, as soon as we get back home you have exit meetings with your players and some guys are going off into pro ball, some kids are going off into summer ball.
And there's scholarship stuff that needs to be in by July 1, and you've got to figure out the draft, who is staying and who is going.
And there's just a lot of things that the next 72 hours are going to be very, very difficult and trying to manage everything.
Then you start recruiting right away. Then a couple of weeks you have summer camps and it keeps going. There's really no time to take a deep breath.
But I will find time after we have our exit meetings and do the paperwork that we need to do and figure out the draft that type of thing to kind of maybe early next week kind of take a deep breath and kind of look at this thing with a little bit more perspective. But I don't want to talk about winning another one already. It's hard enough. I might have told you that but not now. (Laughter).
Q. I've watched your teams come here, this is the sixth year now. For five of those years, you're a very noted pitching authority, too. You'd be out of that dugout, you'd be aiming to the bullpen. So many times you were averaging almost five pitchers a game. This one it was only half of that amount. Have you grown with more patience as a pitching coach? Do you think that was a factor?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: No, to be honest with you, we just didn't have a lot of depth. I knew going into the season that we were going to have to depend on our starters. Alex threw very little during the fall after the U.S.A. experience. And Jackson Kowar did not throw at all during the summer. Brady Singer got shut down after very limited innings in the Cape. And their workload in the fall was very light.
And we started their throwing program a little earlier than most years knowing we'd have to rely on them. And the biggest thing was figuring out the back end of the bullpen. We just didn't have as much depth as we usually do. I do think next year we will have more depth but our team was just built differently, and those guys had to rise up and pitch and be consistent week in week out and they were.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports