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May 26, 2018

Monte Lee

Chris Williams

Jake Higginbotham

Durham, North Carolina

Florida State - 5, Clemson - 4

MONTE LEE: Well, give Florida State a lot of credit. They played a heck of a ballgame tonight. I thought Cole Sands, we knew coming into the game that Cole Sands has great stuff and can really pitch. Had three pitches going tonight, and I thought he did an outstanding job. And then they turned it over to Van Eyk. Van Eyk is one of the most talented arms in our league. That's a tough mix. That's a tough mix for an offense, Sands and Van Eyk.

But our guys threw the ball very, very well, too. Jake Higginbotham gave us a great start. I thought he threw very, very well, and our bullpen was fine. Ryley did a heck of a job in the situation he was in with the bases loaded to get out of that situation the way he did, to make the pitches he made, and Chris Williams had a big night for us with the big inning there, hit the three-run homer in the fourth.

But the bottom line, I think the biggest difference was we had the opportunity to score some runs and we just didn't do it. We didn't come up with the sac fly or a base hit with runners on base in a couple different situations, and that was really the difference in the ballgame. There was a couple little things that we needed to do a better job of, but for the most part, our pitching staff I felt like did a great job. We played a good game defensively, but the bottom line is we've got to do a better job with runners on base. We struck out entirely too much.

But again, you're facing a guy like Sands. Sands is probably going to be taken in the first two rounds of the draft, and Van Eyk is going to be special. I think that it was great for our guys and for our team to play in this type of game and this type of atmosphere going into next week and to be put in those pressure situations that they were put in tonight. I don't know if anything could prepare our guys for next weekend more than tonight's game, but Florida State, give them credit. They were a little bit better than us tonight. They've got a great club but we've got a great club, too. We'll get better from this. I'm proud of the way that our guys fought, but Florida State was a little bit better.

Q. I don't think I've ever seen you that fired up. Maybe this is just the second ejection of your career. What was going through your mind there? Were you trying to fire the team up or was it frustration boiling over?
MONTE LEE: Well, obviously I can't comment on the situation, but at that point I was pretty fired up. That's about all I can say.

Q. Chris, I know this loss stings a lot, but you're bound for the all-tournament team, swinging the bat as hot as you've been all season, and after the way last season ended with the injury and missing the tournament last year, how special has this been for you?
CHRIS WILLIAMS: You know, I mean, this tournament has been a lot of fun for everyone here, like on this team. Before, even today, we were all loose, having fun, and being able to be a part of it, and when I say that, I mean like being on the field and just being with my brothers, it's been absolutely amazing to be able to experience this one more year and coming back and doing that. So it's been very special to me, and it's been a lot of fun, and I'm taking it every day, being grateful every day.

Q. Monte, as far as sending Jake out for the seventh, were you just trying to squeeze another inning out of him, or were you always going to go to Spiers at some point in the seventh?
MONTE LEE: Yeah, we felt like once we got down to the right-handed hitter with Flowers, then that was the spot to bring in Spiers at that point. Just with Mendoza and with Wells, Mendoza and Albert, we felt like it was a good matchup for Jake. He had been executing pitches. Mendoza is a really good hitter. He put one good swing on him early, but besides that, I felt like Higgy had done a nice job with him and we felt like it was the right matchup at that point to send him back out there.

Q. The next step for you guys is to watch the selection show Sunday; pretty sure you're going to host at least a regional, but in your mind still worthy of hosting a super regional or being a national seed with the 45 wins?
MONTE LEE: Well, I believe so. We led all Power Five conferences or programs I should say in Division I baseball in wins. I mean, 22-8 in the ACC, we've got 45 wins. I don't know if there's anything from a resume standpoint that would say otherwise. I think our resume stacks up with anybody's in the country. The ACC is one of the best conferences in the country, and we've had a great year up to this point, and I do believe that we deserve a national seed.

Q. The losing has not necessarily happened often over the last 22. You've only lost three of the last 22. What does this do for your ballclub as a as a motivational tactic, maybe bring out some intensity?
MONTE LEE: Well, we embraced the competition and the heat of the moments. Again, we've done that time and time again. Just look at our record in one-run games and how many one-run games we've played, how many tight games we've played, and oftentimes we've turned out on the better end of those games. It didn't happen tonight, and again, Florida State deserves the credit. It's not going to happen every night.

But again, I think the big thing for me, what I take away from it is we just played arguably one of the 10 best teams in the country in a great environment for the opportunity to play for the ACC championship. We came up a run short. And I think that the learning -- all the different situations that our guys can learn from tonight is going to only make us better going into the postseason because we know we're going to face high-quality opponents in an NCAA regional. It's only going to make us better.

Failure is something that you learn and grow from, and our guys will tell you we embrace it. I mean, we embrace failing because that's the only way you're going to get better. And sometimes when you're winning day in and day out, you know, it's tough. My messages to the team are pretty simple when you win 19 out of 21. Just think about that run. I think that's right. I don't keep up with it, but we won 19 of our 21 games. It's hard to send a lot of messages, just keep doing what you're doing. We'll learn from this, and we'll be better from it, but again, I don't know if we could compete any harder. We didn't execute as good as we would have liked to in some critical situations, and in the postseasons when you're facing high-quality arms and opponents, when you get those opportunities, you've got to capitalize, and that's the big thing that we can take from tonight. We didn't do a good enough job there.

Q. This would be for both Chris and Jake. When you see your coach get fired up and take up for you, does it make you respect him even a little bit more, to see that he's willing to kind of put it on the line for you guys?
JAKE HIGGINBOTHAM: You know, I thanked him after the game for going to battle for us. Everyone in the dugout is competing, everyone on the field is competing. Sometimes emotions run high. It means a lot that he's going to go to battle for us, and he's got our backs and he's out there competing just as hard as we are. We compete on every pitch, that's one of the staples of our program. To see our head coach do it, I think it gave us a little energy jilt and helped Ryley get out of the inning. It was a big deal for our dugout at the time.

CHRIS WILLIAMS: I agree, yep.

Q. Jake, talk about battling through out there tonight maybe early on, not your best stuff or trying to find the strike zone a little bit, but pitching your team into the seventh inning?
JAKE HIGGINBOTHAM: Yeah, you're not always going to have your best stuff, and it's very rare that you do, that everything is clicking. Like I said earlier, it's just we preach compete every pitch, and I'm out there fighting for my teammates, fighting for my coaches, fighting for the name on the front of my jersey. Every single pitch is the biggest pitch of the game, so that's kind of the way I look at it, and if you can approach every single pitch that way, it's the most important pitch, then you're going to have success more often than not.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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