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May 25, 2018

Chris Pollard

Max Miller

Jimmy Herron

Durham, North Carolina

Louisville - 10, Duke - 2

CHRIS POLLARD: First off, congratulations to Louisville. They've been a very, very hot team down the stretch. They played very well today, and they certainly are a dangerous team the rest of this weekend and once they get into postseason play.

You know, when they're going good offensively like they are, one thing you have to be good at is limiting free offense, and we didn't do a great job of that early in the game. We did a really good job of that over the second half of the game, but at that point they had built a pretty good cushion. I think if we do a better job of limiting the free offense early in the ballgame, that's a close ballgame late.

Now, that said, I'm extremely proud of our team. I'm proud of our team today. I'm not talking about the season. I'm talking about what they did today. For a team that played 13 innings yesterday and got down big early today, you will never see a team in my opinion play harder in a big separation like that ballgame was. Guys laying out, leaving their feet to make plays. This guy leaves his feet, makes an unbelievable play in a 9-1 ballgame, Jimmy Herron, rounding first base hard, getting to third base on a ball that most people don't get to third base on. Zack Kone legging out an infield single, Jack Lebosky making the play that he made in the top of the ninth. Our guys continued to play the baseball game like it was a 2-2 game, not like a 9-2 game.

And that's significant for this reason: They do that because of the two guys that are sitting beside me. The two guys that are sitting beside me are the heart and soul of this team, and this team doesn't know any different than to play that hard, regardless of what the score is. These guys have given us unbelievable leadership all year. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to coach them. I am very fortunate that I get a chance to coach them a little while longer as we head into the postseason, and just very thankful for what they've done for our program.

Q. Jimmy or Max, just two extra-base hits this week, one double today, one double yesterday. What do you think caused the kind of lull in power for you guys this week?
MAX MILLER: I think we faced two really good arms, two really good starters over the last two days. Those are two all-conference guys from both sides, and when you're able to throw a couple pitches for strikes, mixing in a good fastball both sides of the plate, you're able to kind of get guys off balance, and when you can throw a fastball two sides of the plate, it's almost like throwing a whole 'nother pitch just because you can't sit on one side and kind of see that.

So I think they did a good job of keeping us off balance in terms of just not being able to sit on pitches in certain counts just because you are throwing everything in different counts. So that's something that we've got to work on going forward and work on going into next week.

JIMMY HERRON: Yeah, I agree. I think those two arms were good. I mean, Roberts has one of the best sliders in the country. He uses it well. And then today, Wolf was throwing three pitches for strikes. He looked good. There's always ways to beat arms. Some days it doesn't happen, and that's baseball. But just got to keep working.

Q. Max and Jimmy, two years ago you guys were just -- you had to go into the selection day hoping to get into the tournament for the first time in forever. Now you're pretty much in, and now you're deciding if you're going to be a host or not. Can you just talk about the difference in the feeling around that? Is there still a nervousness not knowing whether you're going to host or not?
MAX MILLER: I mean, it's definitely different. Two years ago we had a good closing weekend at Pitt to finish out the year and then lost in the wild card game when it was the old format, and so it was definitely exciting to kind of get in, but we still had expectations of winning then. We didn't do it, and regardless of what we're doing next week, whether we're playing here or somewhere else, we're going to be ready to go. It's not a question of whether this team can do it, it's for how long we can do it for, and if we're consistent and have better at-bats than the last two days -- we're going to work over the next couple of days to get that right.

JIMMY HERRON: Yeah, it's a lot different. Two years ago we were excited just to make the tournament, but now making the tournament isn't enough. We want to play in the supers, in the regionals. I think we're a lot better than we were in two years. I think we have a lot more fight, and we're a really close group of guys, so I think that's something that'll really help us down the stretch.

Q. Max, a question about this team's experience. You've got a veteran team. You're the leader. Does that make it easier to kind of put this in the rear-view mirror and move forward to next week?
MAX MILLER: Absolutely. We gave up 20 runs to Georgia Tech last weekend, turned around and didn't feel like we got banged around at all. I mean, we played really well last week, and that's kind of -- that sort of exemplifies how good this team is at just putting stuff behind us right away. Yesterday was a grinder of a game, and kind of a weird one when you got good pace of play for a while, then all of sudden it turns into a four-and-a-half-hour game.

I thought we came out well today, but it's one of those things where I think -- we're an older group of guys. The guys were playing in the regional two years ago were all freshman and sophomore positional guys, and a lot of those guys are still around, and we've got some new arms, but I think we're ready.

Q. Jimmy or Max, Coach talked to us yesterday about the number of wins you guys have and how he feels about what that should mean in terms of whether or not you host next weekend. In your perspectives, what is the case for Duke hosting, given the body of work you've had this year? I know it's not up to you guys, but when you look at what you've been able to do here?
MAX MILLER: I mean, we beat Carolina in a series, beat Florida State in a series, won 19 games in the ACC, RPI has been up there all year. I mean, we didn't get swept one time. That's a big deal. A couple other teams that are going to be hosting have gotten swept. So for us, that's just -- we're ready to go. I mean, it would be a great setup if we could get one to the Coombs, and I know it would be an awesome experience for everyone that we've been working really hard to get it ready if it happens, but if not, we're going to be good either way.

JIMMY HERRON: I think that covers it, yes.

Q. Max or Jimmy, are you able to take away some lessons maybe from perhaps these two games of tournament play and what pressure situations are like playing an extra-inning game moving forward to the NCAA tournament?
JIMMY HERRON: Yeah, but I don't think it feels that much different. Talking about our team being pretty experienced, I think guys are pretty good at -- we talk a lot about staying in the moment and taking it a pitch at a time, and when you do that, the crowd or the noise or the stage doesn't really matter. So yeah, there's more pressure and more attention on you, but at the end of the day, if you go out and you know what you're doing, you stick to that and trust that.

Q. Coach, with what you've seen in the league this season and again this week, with Louisville getting 10 runs against Wake Forest, nine against you, both you guys had good pitching success, how deep is this league, and how many teams do you think ought to get invited on Monday to the NCAA?
CHRIS POLLARD: Tough question. I think that the answer is how many are deserving, how many get in may be two separate answers. I know there are two teams that would be considered on the bubble in Georgia Tech and Miami, and I know both of those teams are very, very capable of winning a regional if they're fortunate enough to get in. I can speak to that. We played them both. Miami is very good on the mound, and they can pitch with anybody. And Georgia Tech has on paper maybe one of the top four or five offenses in the country and two very good starters at the front end of their rotation.

So either one of those teams, I think you have six teams in our league that are a lock, right, that body of work suggests they're a 2 seed or higher, but then you have those two teams that are very, very capable if given an opportunity to go out and play well next weekend.

Q. Coach, are you in any way worried that the selection committee may penalize you guys for your home field not being maybe so NCAA ready as some other fields?
CHRIS POLLARD: No we talk all the time in our program about controlling the things that we have control over. We talk about controlling the controllables. And unfortunately that's something that we don't have any control over, so it's something we don't worry about. When you have guys like these two guys beside me, we'll go out and play somebody in a parking lot. We don't care where it is. We don't care if we have to go on the road. We've been very good on the road this year.

We enjoy playing at Coombs. I know our administration has made a tremendous commitment to make Coombs into a very regional-ready facility, and I'm very appreciative of that, very appreciative of the job that Brad Berndt and Bob Weisman have done to invest money in that facility so that we can present a proposal to the NCAA that makes Coombs a very worthy facility for us to host a regional.

If it does get used against us in the room, it's like Max said, we'll be ready to play wherever we are.

Q. Chris, what did you think was lacking in Mitch's performance today?
CHRIS POLLARD: You know what, I thought that a couple of breaking pitches backed up on him, and so we gave them some free offense. And again, I think that ballgame may play itself completely different if we execute the two-strike pitch with two outs to get off the field. That was a huge moment in the ballgame. We got a chance to get off the field right there with only two runs scoring, despite the fact that we haven't been very clean. We've talked two guys, we hit another guy, but they were one pitch away from getting off the field, and if it's 2-0, that game might play itself out very differently. I know this, Mitch will work very hard this week. Coach Blake will go back and review the video. He'll review the TrackMan file and try to work hard to figure out if there's some tweak or something that we can do a little bit differently heading into next week.

Q. Coach, you have overall perspective of this baseball tournament. Do you sit around for the next couple days sweating this out whether you're going to host or not, knowing that you're in but whether you're going to host or not? Are you going to sweat that out?
CHRIS POLLARD: No, I think we'll catch our breath a little bit as a team. These last two days took a lot out of our players and our coaching staff, too. We'll use tomorrow to regroup a little bit, and then we'll get back in the weight room and get back to the process of recovery and getting ready for next week like we always do.

These guys would attest to this: I'm big on routine, and we'll get right back in our routine and prepare knowing that wherever we are, whether we're home or whether we're on the road, we're going to see a good opponent, and we'd better be at our best, and so we'd better do the things in our preparation that allow us to be at our best next week.

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