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June 21, 2018

Kevin O'Sullivan

JJ Schwarz

Jack Leftwich

Omaha, Nebraska

Florida - 9, Texas Tech - 6

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an overview from Sully.

COACH O'SULLIVAN: Obviously it was a well-played game and came down to the last few innings there. And I think Jack got off to a really good start in the first inning and ran into some trouble there in the second, made big pitches when he needed to. Thought he really settled down. To pitch in this environment, his first career start out here, I thought he handled the stage as well as you could have expected. I'm really, really proud of the way he pitched.

And we got ourselves a little trouble in the seventh and made some big pitches there. And I thought Tommy Mace threw the ball fine, threw the ball across the plate, and Jordan Butler obviously came in got a big strikeout and got the final out of the seventh.

And obviously offensively I thought we swung the bats well tonight, Deacon got a couple hits. JJ hit the big home run there to help us get -- I forget what inning it was, but it was a huge lift for us, Wil Dalton had a couple hits, and Blake Reese had three hits and Nick Horvath had a good night at the plate with a couple more hits.

I think it was probably our best night offensively in a while, ran the bases extremely well. I don't know how many bases we stole, but we were pretty successful there. But Texas Tech was one of those teams we knew they weren't going to go away. They hung in there with us and we knew it was going to be a nine-inning ballgame, and they had a terrific year.

Obviously this is their third trip to Omaha in the last five, and Tim's done an unbelievable job with his program. And I know it's never fun to see your season come to an end, but they have a lot to be proud of and they played extremely well against us here in this tournament in Omaha.


Q. Jack, they had a little bit of shades of that Florida-Atlanta game you pitched a couple weeks ago where the control wasn't quite there the first two innings but you fought through that and were really good thereafter. Describe struggling early and then being able to recover from that in the next four innings after that?
JACK LEFTWICH: I think the reason I was struggling was just because I was nibbling and not attacking the hitters. And I was like kind of pitching scared.

After we scored a couple of runs, I knew I had to attack the hitters and keep enough zeros and they were going to get themselves out. So just attack the zone.

Q. JJ, obviously coming into this World Series after a little bit of a layoff, did it take you some time to maybe find your rhythm a little bit at the plate? It seemed like that swing is obviously a big moment in this game, but do you feel like now you're back to kind of being locked in up there?
JJ SCHWARZ: I definitely felt a little better, played a little more comfortable. But I think today was a good step in the right direction. Obviously you guys could tell I wasn't very comfortable the first couple of games. Took a lot of time off.

A little rusty, but I think I'm definitely getting the hang of things again.

Q. JJ, just what does it mean for you to have gone back in time for this, and what did you have to do to be able to play here in Omaha?
JJ SCHWARZ: I mean, I wouldn't miss this for the world. So playing through injury, I don't have to think twice about it. It's a huge game. And obviously for a reason I'm going to be out there and impact the game with my teammates on the field.

So I didn't really think twice about it. And I did whatever it took to get back on the field.

Q. Jack, going back to that second inning, bases loaded there, two outs, seemed like a key moment in the game. Just walked a couple guys. How did you get yourself kind of back on track after that? And did you feel like once you got through that you were kind of maybe over the hurdle a little bit?
JACK LEFTWICH: Yeah, I think the big thing for me this whole year was two-strike hits and two-out hits and runs and I would get ahead of hitters really quick and then they would get a hit, I would make a bad pitch. I knew it was the College World Series and I couldn't be doing that now. I knew I had to make a good pitch. They've been battling for me all year, my teammates and hitters, and so I just didn't want to let them down.

Q. The run, the offense was kind of scuffling along a little bit there early, and then the run that India manufactured, what kind of spark did that give you on the mound and then you and the rest of the guys at the plate?
JACK LEFTWICH: I mean, for me it was just a relief. I mean, one run, it's still like more than zero, and I like pitching with a lead. I knew when I went out back that inning, if I have to put out another zero, it would be good momentum for our team. And India was always telling me when he's playing third that you can't let those rebound runs happen. I had to make pitches and put up a zero after that inning they scored a run.

JJ SCHWARZ: I thought Kilian was throwing the ball really well. Making it tough on us. We didn't have a hit for five innings maybe and to scratch a run across I thought it was huge to get out to a good start. I saw a stat we were 30-1 when we score first, and so it definitely takes a lot of pressure off Jack. I'm really glad India scored there because I didn't have great at-bats. So I was happy about that one.

Q. Could you talk about your thoughts on the game tomorrow and the difficulty of trying to win two now to advance?
JJ SCHWARZ: It's definitely not a position we ideally want to be in to win two. We'd like to be in the driver's seat. We're not. Our backs are against the wall. I think we've shown it all year that we respond really well to when our backs are against the wall. I think tomorrow is going to be no different. We're facing a very good Arkansas team and we're very familiar with them and they're very familiar with us. So it's going to be a battle.

JACK LEFTWICH: Basically the same thing he said. I think it's going to be a good matchup. We've seen them a lot this year. And I think we're 2-2. They've won 2 and we've won 2. And I think it will be fun and I'm just excited to keep playing.

Q. JJ, just what did you see on the home run and how did you feel? It seems like you like hitting in this ballpark a lot?
JJ SCHWARZ: I do like hitting. It was my first home run here. That was special. He was throwing really heavy sinkers and making it really tough on the righties. I was trying to see a ball up and maybe put one in the air because the wind was blowing out so hard. And he left one over the plate, and I put a good swing on it.

Q. JJ, seemed like they had momentum going there, I think it was whatever the late innings, they had the three-run rally, bases loaded. You guys escape it. How big was it to come back, twice late in the game when they came at you, you guys fired back, how big did you think it was? Did you guys talk about it in the dugout at all, let's get right back at them, or just one of those unspoken things?
JJ SCHWARZ: You can talk about it all you want, but to go out there is a different thing. We talk about it all the time with pitchers how when we put up a crooked number, the pitcher has to bear down with a zero. Jack talked about the rebound runs, and they put up three and we had to respond, we had to change the momentum. Fans were really loud tonight, and we had to get the ball going in our direction.

Q. JJ, looks like Arkansas will go with Isaiah Campbell. He probably had his worst game of the year against you guys in Gainesville. Do you remember that game and remember anything about what it was that allowed you guys to light him up? I think he went one inning and had to leave.
JJ SCHWARZ: I remember the game. He was just falling behind on the hitters. I remember John hit a grand slam in the first inning. That definitely doesn't bear well for the pitcher. So, I mean, I don't know what else, I just remember John's grand slam.

THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. That six and a third, did that exceed your expectations of what you thought you could get out of Jack tonight?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I thought if we get five or six, I would be happy with five and probably ecstatic with six. And really he started the seventh inning with an 0-2 count and gave up that hard hit into the left-center field gap.

If he makes a pitch there, probably a good chance he gets through the seventh. Because I really liked the way he was throwing the ball. Really what we were trying to do is squeeze the last nine outs of the game, eight outs of the game, to not have to use Michael Byrne.

He only threw 14 pitches, but in a game like that, with a five-run lead, with six outs to go, it would have been nice not to use him. But fortunate enough for us he only threw 14 pitches. But at the end of the day, we are going to need somebody to step up, give us some outs, if we want to advance here in the next couple of games.

Q. We've seen it the last couple of years when JJ comes back in the lineup, it feels different. What has he given you this week being back in there?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: You can see how they're pitching them. First time back. Seeing a lot of breaking balls and a lot of spin. And he just demands a lot of respect.

And they pitch him differently. And I think he's our team captain. Everybody's excited he is back. And a lot of guys may not be playing. He's playing with a broken finger. It's usually a four- to six-week deal and probably more towards the six-week part.

He came back. And obviously we're excited he's back.

Q. Obviously Jack came up big for you and some of the freshmen in the bullpen, and Brady Smith had that big swing of the bat. What went into your thought process to keep him back there behind the plate and what kind of a spark do you think that was?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I thought he caught great tonight. Sometimes at times he gets a little quick receiving the ball. Tries to get the ball back to the pitcher a little bit too quick. We talk about pace all the time.

But I think he's got a chance to be a really good player. He can play multiple positions. He can move around. He's got a really good arm. He's accurate. And he's got a really sound swing. I think he's got a chance to be really good. I was really pleased with how he played tonight.

When you think about it, we're in an elimination game, playing in front of who knows how many people. And I've got a freshman battery and they handled it pretty darn good.

Q. Looking at Arkansas tomorrow, I know Brady Singer is going to want the ball. Do you expect him to start against the Hogs?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, we gotta look at it. Right now we can't think about Saturday. We've got to take it one game at a time. We talked to Brady today, and he's going to pitch tomorrow on four days' rest.

Q. Could you just address your overall pitching situation, where you feel like you're at right now and even with the idea you might have to play two?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: No, I'm concerned about tomorrow. We've got Brady Singer on the mound. He's starting. And we'll see how long he can go and see what the score is and that will dictate who we use pitching-wise.

And if we're fortunate enough to win tomorrow's game, we'll throw our best available guy on Saturday. It's really that simple. It's going to be one game at a time from here on out.

Q. Y'all played Arkansas four times already. What advantages do you get from that? And also what are your thoughts playing them again on this stage?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: When we started looking at the bracket, before we got out here, figured it would be probably a point in time we're going to play them. If we were fortunate enough to play well enough to get to the second game or come out of the loser's bracket, that's what's happened.

So I'm sure they feel the same way as we do. They're familiar with us; we're familiar with them. And got a great deal of respect for Dave and his program. And ran into a couple of their -- their pitching coach today, they're having lunch downtown, and their strength coach, we sat for about 45 minutes and talked.

And let's be honest, we're going to have to play really well here the next couple of days if we want to move on. So the whole focus right now is just going to be tomorrow. I know Brady's starting. I know Isaiah Campbell is probably going to start. And we'll see what happens. Hopefully we can get a chance to play on Saturday. It's really that simple.

Q. Has Brady ever pitched on four days' rest, at least with Florida? And if not, how do you try to prepare him for that?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I don't know. Four days is typically the amount of rest you need in between. He said he wanted the ball. And certainly, he's a junior, he's older, and he's strong. And we'll just monitor his pitch count. But he's certainly ready to go.

Q. 1 through 9, very deep lineup for Arkansas, but they're getting a lot of pop right now from the bottom of the order. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, you gotta get 27 outs. Can't let up. It's a deep lineup. Just really can't have any let-ups.

I think that's where Brady, he understands that and he's mature. And that's typically what happens with young pitchers. Go out there and face an 8-0 hitter, end up walking him on five. Next thing you know, five pitches or so, and you find yourself in a jam. The lineup turns over and you got the guys at the top of the order that really do damage.

You've just got to play good defense. There's not a lot of whole swing and miss in their lineup. So keep walks to a minimum, play good defense, and hopefully our bats continue to stay hot. It's really that simple.


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