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June 20, 2018

Dave Van Horn

Jared Gates

Dominic Fletcher

Barrett Loseke

Omaha, Nebraska

Arkansas - 7, Texas Tech - 4

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Arkansas Coach Van Horn and student-athletes Dominic Fletcher and Jared Gates and Barrett Loseke.

COACH VAN HORN: I thought on our side Kacey Murphy got us off to a great start. He worked his way out of a jam in the first and then had a couple of pretty good innings. That's really good offense. He had to try to get through and I think it looked like to me he just kind of ran out of gas there in the fifth.

He threw like six pitches in a row, chest high or higher, and that's not him. And just felt like we should go to Barrett. Barrett's done really well down the stretch for us, and he came in and slowed them down a little bit for a few innings, and obviously Cronin came in got a big out in the eighth. And in the ninth we had some problems. Kind of knew they wouldn't go away, just too good a club, too offensive.

And feel fortunate to get out of there. At this time of the year we always talk about you have to be a little bit lucky. In the first inning we had two players run into each other. Cost them two runs. But we set that inning up pretty good and 3 and 4 hole didn't make contact. Then we got a big break there.

Again, you gotta have some things go your way. We had a couple of things go on your way. Then we swung the bats pretty well after that and got a couple of big hits with two outs, couple of home runs to keep adding to that lead and just pretty good job up and down our lineup.


Q. Dominic and Jared, the contagious nature of your hitting, maybe here and certainly throughout this season, can you guys comment on that and just what it's like to hit in this lineup?
DOMINIC FLETCHER: Yeah, obviously it's one of the best lineups in the country, and you see guys around you doing well. You want to do well. It's kind of competitive between all of us. Everyone wants to do well and help the team win.

JARED GATES: What Dom was saying, we had a lot of good hitters in our lineup. We just kind of feed off of each other. It all starts with Eric Cole. He's been getting us started every time. Seems like he's getting on base. Just takes a little pressure off of us when Eric's hitting a lead-off double or single or a good at-bat, we can see what the guys got.

It's good to have good hitters all around you.

Q. Dominic, just from where you started the year to where you are now, what do you feel like the difference has been as you've improved throughout the season?
DOMINIC FLETCHER: You know, just sticking with the approach. Not trying to do too much. Staying back. Just a couple different things in my swing. But mostly just being relaxed up there and not getting too jumpy not trying to do too much.

Q. Jared, could you just take us through the home run, what did you see and did it feel good coming off the bat?
JARED GATES: Yeah. So I was on a first-pitch fastball and I just missed it. I really didn't know what I was expecting. Then he threw a changeup, and I honestly capped it. I don't know how it got out. But I'm glad it did.

Q. Barrett, what did you have working for you today? And also this is your second really good outing at Texas Tech. What is it about pitching at Texas Tech that it brings it out of you?
BARRETT LOSEKE: First outing I had against Texas Tech earlier in the year went well. I stuck to my game plan the first time I was out there. I felt good. I remember I was well rested, I had all -- I had curveball, changeup, fastball working that day. And today I knew I had past success against them, and I didn't necessarily try to repeat what I did last time, but I knew I could get them out, and that gave me confidence to go out there and execute my game plan.

Q. Dominic, on your home run, have you hit a ball like that, and knowing this park and right field, just did you think it had a chance to be anything like that?
DOMINIC FLETCHER: It's about as far as I can hit one, probably as far as I've ever hit one. But I think I tried to bunt on a 0-1 pitch, bunted it foul, and then was trying to battle and put a ball in play somewhere. Fouled off a couple of pitches and was seeing it well, and he left a fastball right over the middle of the plate.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Dave, Jared kind of came up with some big hits for you guys the last month of the season. What did you kind of see from him that you kind of felt like he's one of those guys that interjects energy into the lineup?
COACH VAN HORN: I talked about it a few times, down the stretch here, because obviously he's been in the lineup, and if you start at the beginning of the season, Jared was our starting first baseman, swinging the bat extremely well, went to California, played in a tournament, hit a home run or two and hit another ball that -- I remember he hit it at like 10:00 at night at San Diego State, we thought it was way out, and the old marine layer got a hold of it and dropped it back in the warning track.

And then he pulls a hamstring. He's in and out of the lineup. We start platooning over there. And it's just not going good for him. But he started swinging the bat really well in batting practice I'd say mid April. Really wasn't going into the game. Still splitting them a little bit. Once we got to the SEC Tournament, that's when I had a talk with him. I said, man -- just the gist of it: You don't have to worry about checking the lineup every day; I'm going to play you the rest of the year.

And he's just kind of kept going. He's done well. So he's been -- I think I said this the other day, he lengthens our lineup with a threat of driving a run in or hitting a home run, and he's just been a tough out against right- and left-handed pitching.

Q. What have you seen from Dominic over the development, like he got off to such a poor start, the way he's swinging the bat now? What's allowed him to turn that around?
COACH VAN HORN: In the fall we didn't get him out. And I thought, man, this kid has made that Benintendi type of jump because Andrew from one year to the next was incredible.

And he had come off a good summer. His team had just won the California League playoffs. I think he was MVP of the series. Comes in. We don't get him out all fall, really.

What I saw from him at the beginning of the spring is he was trying to hit the ball 500 feet. And I will tell you the very first weekend in three-game series I bet he hit seven balls .390 foul, and then he didn't do anything. He hit one -- we have a shed down there they store everything, he hit it over that. He was pulling off, trying to do too much. We go to California. All his family and friends, doesn't get any better.

Then he slowly climbs out of it, a little here, little there, and down the stretch, last 45 days, he's been pretty good.

Now, he'll have a game where it doesn't look good and he'll have a game like today and he'll hit three balls on the screws or four. When you asked him if he's ever hit the ball that far, I've seen him hit many balls that far, but maybe not fair. I think that's what the chuckle was.

He did. He's relaxed. He realizes he doesn't have to do it all by himself. He doesn't have to hit 20 home runs as a sophomore. Just hit. He's gone from .190 to .3-something now.

Q. Can you speak to the importance of being in the winner's bracket final here and what it might do for your pitching and just being in the spot that you're in now?
COACH VAN HORN: Like I told the team, been here before and didn't go very good. We haven't really done anything yet. We're 2-0. It's a great feeling. What it gets us is a day off so you can rest some guys.

And maybe that's it. You rest a couple of guys when they have to throw a couple of guys. Other than that, it's like I told them, it's like being in a Regional being 2-0. You still haven't won the Regional. It doesn't really matter yet. You've still got work to do.

But what it does for you is it gives you a day off, a chance to rest some guys. And regroup a little bit.

Q. Your pitching situation --
COACH VAN HORN: I'd say as of right now I'd say Isaiah Campbell will be going Game 3.

Q. Any concerns about Cronin, maybe he hasn't pitched in a week or eight days, what you thought of his outing?
COACH VAN HORN: I thought he came in, did really well getting that last out in the eighth. Got ahead of a couple guys, I think, 0-2, and one slaps one one way, one slaps it the other way. What do you do? And the breaking ball to the left, it was an 0-2 pitch. I wish he would've buried it. I think he would've got a strikeout. But he left it in the zone. It's like, oh, it's a breaking ball, just swung at it and did a really nice job of hitting it down the third base line.

The way I look at it, I think he's a little rusty. And that's what I told him after the game that you gotta throw a few more pitches, have a day off tomorrow, and be ready to go on Friday. But maybe he needs some work.

Q. You touched on this in your opening, but Barrett Loseke's outing, what you thought of it. He had some strikeouts in the previous game against them too.
COACH VAN HORN: We talked about that. Murphy came in, threw the ball well. Seven strikeouts against a pretty darned good hitting team. And Loseke came in, gave us some quality innings, up to 40, 41 pitches and then he got us to Cronin. And that was our plan. If we could do that, then we knew we were going to have a chance to win, whether we were up one, tied or whatever. So, Loseke, he just did a great job.

Q. You're up 5-2. Get the first two runners on. Wanted to bunt and all that, but in the end you did get two more runs. How big was that?
COACH VAN HORN: They were huge. We talked about that after the game, too. We got a big two-out hit from Jax Biggers, they punched in that fifth run I think.

For Dominic to come through, drive in a couple of runs, a run there. And Shaddy to come through and drive in another run, obviously we needed those runs. We knew -- the game wasn't over. There's swings left. The wind's blowing out. The air's thin.

Gates hits one off the end of the bat out front but with extension and he's strong, and he backspun one into the bullpen. Fletcher hit one, I don't know, 400 some feet. He hit it good but you could tell that the ballpark was playing a lot smaller and those runs were big.

Q. Relative to how Texas Tech's averages look, you've been able to hold them down a couple times this year offensively. What did you think about those two games? Were you able to take anything out of that first game today?
COACH VAN HORN: You know, obviously the first game, you have success against them. So you probably need to talk to Coach Johnson a little more about that than me. We had a pitching plan and went over it with Grant and I think they executed it together.

They both called the pitches together. And I kind of just listen in a little bit. If I needed to make a suggestion every now and again, I do. But it's rare. They're the ones who did it.

And again I just thought Murphy came out and gave us a great start and gave us a lot of confidence and gave us a chance to build up a lead. Anytime you play with a lead, the other team, it's not as easy. Sometimes they try to do too much.

And other than that, definitely the first game helped us pitch against them today.


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