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June 19, 2018

Kevin O'Sullivan

Jackson Kowar

Jonathan India

Omaha, Nebraska

Florida - 6, Texas - 1

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan and student-athletes Jonathan India and Jackson Kowar. Coach, an overview.

COACH O'SULLIVAN: First, I'd like to congratulate Texas on a great year. It's not easy to get here. And Dave's got them back here. And obviously I'm sure a lot of Texas fans are excited about that. So congratulations to them.

Well, I think the story of the game is obviously Jackson Kowar. He was outstanding on the mound. I think he had 13 strikeouts in six and two-thirds.

And change-up was working all day long. He had really good fastball command on both sides of the plate. Breaking ball was very, very consistent today. And when he's able to have both his changeup and breaking ball going, with that fastball that he always has, he's really tough to hit. So congratulations to Jackson.

And obviously Jonathan here had the big three-run homer for us, which gave us a little bit of -- some breathing room. We struggled early in the game to get a big hit. And I think that was probably the biggest hit obviously in the last two games for us.

So, we're excited about moving on. We're excited about having a chance to play again on Thursday. And we'll see what happens.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for student-athletes.

Q. Jackson, just a couple things. What was working for you, and how important was it to get out of the first when they had runners on the corners and one out?
JACKSON KOWAR: I think it was huge. The first inning I really left -- the first three batters I didn't make really any quality pitches to. I was lucky it was only first and third and one out on the liner out to left field.

So getting through that inning and kind of being able to settle in, especially after we had just scored in the first, it would have been a real let down for us if I had just given up a two or three spot there in the first right after we had just scrapped a run.

So getting through that first was big, and then I was able to kind of get the fastball command working, and everything else played off of that the rest of the way.

Q. Jonathan, take us through your at-bat where you hit the home run. And, two, what was it like watching Jackson work today?
JACKSON KOWAR: I think it was a 2-0 count or 2-1. I was just sitting dead red in that at-bat. And I got the pitch I wanted and I put a good swing on it. I'm glad I came through like that. We needed that for our team, some momentum. And we needed that.

But with Jackson today, he was unbelievable. He's done it the whole year for us. And he competes, and that's why he's a first-round in the draft because he competes and he likes to win. So his changeup was working today. He had first-pitch strikes a lot. And his fastball was on. So he did really well today for us.

Q. Jonathan, talk about Nelson's at-bat right before yours. Until that point you guys had left eight on through the first five innings and you were set up to do it again, and he comes through with that big single and then you get the home run. Talk about Nelson's at-bat to kind of break through and get some momentum.
JONATHAN INDIA: That at-bat was huge for us. We needed that. Nelson, the whole year, he's a clutch hitter for us. He battles at the plate. He rarely strikes out. He competes at the plate. That's what we needed. And he came through clutch for us. And as they say, hitting is contagious. Just pass it on to me and I'll pass it on to the next.

Q. Jackson, we found out right after you left the game that you're the first guy to have 13 strikeouts in a College World Series game since Gerrit Cole. Trevor Bauer did it for UCLA back in 2010. Is that meaningful to you in any way?
JACKSON KOWAR: Yeah, obviously that's really cool. Those guys are doing pretty well for themselves right now. So that's pretty cool company. So, yeah, I didn't know that.

Q. After you come out here and maybe play less than your best baseball as a team yesterday, Jonathan, seemed like this team was more focused today. Is that fair to say? Or just seemed like you played at a much higher level, more like Florida baseball; is that fair to say?
JONATHAN INDIA: It was win or go home for us, backs against the wall. We definitely could have played better moving on. We left some guys on today.

But we pulled it out at the end, and that's all that matters is the win. But moving forward we focused just like we did today and just keep continuing our success.

Q. Jackson, after the two runners got on in the seventh, you got the two strikeouts. What were you thinking and how were you able to kind of dig deep to get those last two outs before you came out?
JACKSON KOWAR: Yeah, I think kind of after the two guys got on, just like the two guys in the first -- it was just fastballs that I left thigh high or mask high. And I tried to take a deep breath. It started raining, so it was a little cliché out there, but I knew that if I just made a couple quality pitches, Johnny had just had the big homer. So we had a lead and I knew the only way they could come back is if I started walking guys and falling behind in the count.

I knew if I attacked them and get two ground balls we'd still be up two runs. My main focus was to avoid the big inning. And luckily I was able to get the two strikes on both the guys and make a couple quality pitches. And I thought Jordan did a phenomenal job and came in and attacked the hitter right after me. I think that was big for us.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Is that the best you've seen Kowar's stuff throughout his career? And I guess number two, as you sit back and watch a guy just deal like that, what kind of goes through your mind as a pitching guy?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, the biggest message before the game was if we're going to get back into this thing we needed to have our starters go deep in the game. We couldn't go to the pen in the fifth or sixth and use some guys.

After the first inning he had thrown about 25, 26 pitches. And just reminded him he's going to have to be a little more economical in the count.

So to get almost seven innings out of him with 13 strikeouts says a lot about how he was able to zone in and focus in after a 25-pitch first. But as far as the stuff is concerned, it's always good, but he seems to have that one inning where it kind of gets away from him a little bit. And today that just never happened.

I think you go back to the Ellis at-bat where you had Clemens on deck and he might have thrown maybe six or seven fastballs on the inner half. I think we had a 2-2 count, and I'm sure everybody in the ballpark is thinking, when is he going to break out the changeup. But I didn't want to go 3-2 and have an obvious fastball count and bring Clemens up.

That's what I told him when I went out to the mound before the at-bat was you're going to have to stuff some fastballs in here, and stay with me on this. I think that was a defining moment in the game to be able to strike out Ellis.

As far as his stuff is concerned, when he has his changeup and breaking ball going like he did today, it was really good. It was really good.

So, yeah, to answer your question it's probably the best I've seen him, to be honest with you, with the whole package, with everything concerned. I thought he was really good last week with Auburn, too. He was really good against A&M during SEC play. But I think on this stage, I think this is about as good as he's pitched all year.

Q. When you have to play with the kind of urgency you play with today, how valuable is it to have a bunch of guys who have been through this before, who understand this?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I think it helps. I don't know if we played with less focus on Sunday night. I think to be honest with you I think Texas Tech just beat us.

I don't want to take anything away from Texas Tech. And I know when our team doesn't play well, but the fact of the matter is Shetter came in did a really nice job for a couple of innings. Our guys didn't see him very well. They had a 14-pitch at-bat against Brady Singer, and their lineup is deep. I think they just beat us.

I think today, if you look at the game we left a lot of guys -- we had bases loaded, nobody out and we didn't score. We put a bunt on. We got the 2-0 count. And we didn't get the head out. And we took the bunt off. And there's some other situations where you put a first -- you've got runners at runners at first and second, you put a double steal on and we don't go at second.

And there's some mistakes we made today, a lot of times you win a game like that, 6-1, and a lot of those mistakes get forgotten quickly because you win the game. But today it was no clearer than it was on Sunday.

And we've had to go to Michael Byrne again. He threw 21 pitches, I think, on Sunday. And threw about another 30 today. And we're going to have to get some help on the back end of the game, especially if we start playing consecutive days here. If we play on Thursday and if we're fortunate enough to win, we play Friday and Saturday. Michael's not going to be able to throw in every one of those games. We're going to need some help.

So this time of the year you don't want to nitpick your team too much because bottom line a win is a win this time of the year. I'll let them enjoy it. We'll talk about some things, maybe shorten up some swings with runners in scoring position. I think our swings are getting a little bit too big. And if the wind is blowing in like it did Sunday night, it's not a very forgiving field.

Q. I assume it's going to be Leftwich on Thursday, and if it is can you just talk about him as a freshman developing from somebody who wasn't a weekend starter at the start of the year to somebody who is now going to pitch in the three elimination games for you?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, he's grown up an awful lot. He's not really a freshman. I tell all of them the same thing: They've been through the SEC; been through a Regional, Super Regional. Both Jack and Tommy pitched outstanding against Auburn on Monday night.

Held them to a couple of runs over seven. So Jack's certainly capable. He has a live arm. Him and Tommy are next in line. I've said that all year long. After Brady and Jackson leave after this year, those are the two that are next in line.

So it would be nice to save Tommy for a potential fourth game, but we can't do that. We're not able to do that at this point. So we'll see. It's going to be interesting to see what happens. Looks like the weather might be a little iffy tomorrow. If we get pushed back to Friday, Saturday, Sunday, you know, maybe Brady's got a chance to pitch three times in this tournament. I don't know. We'll see.

Q. Sully, when you look at Texas and the job that David's done over these two years, just from afar, what did you see when you saw them today and were looking at them on film?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: In all fairness we don't play in their league. We haven't played them a whole lot. I can't really speak on that as far as where they were and where they are now. But I will say that in watching the games against Tennessee Tech, they beat a really good Tennessee Tech team, a really -- they had that little right-hander that was really good and their lineup was really good.

Teams like that that come in hot, they go to Oxford and beat Ole Miss, and then they go to Texas and take them to a Game 3. They're very, very capable. I was impressed with how they were able to win that series and get back to here because the common person probably doesn't know a whole lot about Tennessee Tech, but I think the coaches across the country that watched them play a couple games, you go, that's a really dangerous club. And for them to get through that Super against them I thought, spoke volumes about where their program's at right now.

Q. You talked about them kind of surviving that Super Regional test. Obviously you guys have been pushed in the Regional, the Super. And seems like every time you are pushed you guys dig deep and respond like they did today. Do you feel that the experience in the postseason has strengthened this team for this moment? And do you like the level of play that you're seeing right now from this group?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, I've liked it all year long. I don't think you can get to this point and not feel good about your team. But the reality of it is we put ourselves behind the eight-ball a bit by losing Sunday night.

We're going to have to lean on our freshmen on Thursday to pitch really well for us. And there's going to have to be somebody that steps up, whether it be Tyler Dyson, whether it be Hunter McMullen, Jordan Butler -- one of these, a couple of these freshmen will have to pitch an important game for us if we're going to get back into it, because obviously we just -- when you have to win four in a row, you put yourself in a position where some other guys have to step up.

Q. Given the weather today, how happy are you not, since you won obviously, but you're able to get this in without a delay and not have to spend all night here at the park?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, I mean, you've been around us enough to know that those 10-, 12-hour days because of the rain. But you know what, I wouldn't say I'm happy about it. I'm glad we got the game in. But the uncertainty of tomorrow, certainly be thinking all day and you know, what do we do with our pitchers for a practice day, an off day. Probably not do too much. It's going to be an indoor deal.

But I don't really worry about the weather. It is what it is. We're used to having to deal with the elements. It is what it is and we'll just look forward to playing again when we're supposed to. That's it.


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