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June 22, 2018

Dave Van Horn

Matt Cronin

Isaiah Campbell

Casey Martin

Omaha, Nebraska

Arkansas - 5, Florida - 2

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, student-athletes Isaiah Campbell, Matt Cronin and Casey Martin. Coach, an overview.

COACH VAN HORN: It really started with Isaiah Campbell tonight. In my opinion his stuff was electric for the first four, five innings, he had a perfect game going into the fifth.

And only a couple of balls really were hit hard through the first four innings for sure. And Shaddy made a nice play up the middle to save a hit.

But he had his fastball going. Looked like it was running downhill to me. Threw a really nice cutter, a couple of change-ups, sliders, mostly fastball cutter. And gave us a chance to get out and get a couple of runs lead.

We left some runs out there. But Isaiah just kept pounding the zone. And credit Florida, they got it going a little bit and got a big hit with two outs, and we had a passed ball that scored another one.

And they're right back in the game. But top to bottom, it was good effort by our team. I thought Casey Martin had an incredible game. Scores three runs, knocks in another one.

One of the runs he scored on he used his instincts and speed on that chopper. That was a huge run at the time for us.

And other than that, excited to know we're sitting up here, get to rest a day, day and a half before we get to play again.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Isaiah, talk about the mentality you brought into the game and Wes said you basically had two pitches tonight, can you talk about that?
ISAIAH CAMPBELL: I came in with the same mentality that I had for the Super Regional, that every inning was the ninth inning, it was a close situation, and I just went with the fastball cutter today. And it was actually funny because the cutter was the worst pitch in the bullpen, but I found it in the game and just attacked the strike zone, let my defense do the work.

Q. Casey, you got that double and I think Carson sent out a tweet: It's all about the front of the jersey, and you showed that Arkansas -- just kind of the team unity for Isaiah today and took a little bit of everybody to get this one done tonight.
CASEY MARTIN: They pitched a really good game. I know he was wanting it back after the first outing against them coming out in the first inning. What Carson said, it's not all about what's on the back of the jersey, it's what's on the front. We're not just playing for ourselves, we're playing for these guys up here. It's a family. You do what you can for each other.

Q. Isaiah, you mentioned going out with the mentality of it's a Super Regional, ninth inning all the time. How much, though, did you find motivation from trying to kind of avenge what happened down in Gainesville with that poor start you had in March?
ISAIAH CAMPBELL: I mean, I had it in the back of my mind when I woke up this morning. I know I didn't help the team at all in that start. It's one of my worst starts of the year.

I didn't think about it too much once I got to the field. I was all just ready for the night just giving our team a chance to win.

Q. Isaiah, I'm kind of curious about what point in the season that cutter became such a weapon for you. I don't remember seeing it that much early. Is that something that materialized over the course of the season or has that been there for you all along?
ISAIAH CAMPBELL: The cutter I had tonight, it's more the slider I've been throwing all year. I've been working with Coach Johnson in the bullpen to throw it with a little more conviction, use the hips a little more. And since then it's turned into more of a cutter.

Q. Matt, could you speak to three things: You tied the school's saves record, what you thought of Isaiah tonight and Cole's catch in the ninth inning.
MATT CRONIN: Tying the saves record is awesome, means I'm doing my job right. And Isaiah, I thought he was electric out there. He went four and two-thirds perfect. And I think he just put us in a good spot to win this game really early and kind of shut them down.

What was the third thing?

Q. Cole's catch.
MATT CRONIN: I absolutely loved it. I think it was the first pitch. Took a lot of pressure off me right there, easy out, quick and efficient, and I was ready to go again.

Q. Casey, as someone who grew up watching Arkansas, what does it mean now to get a chance to play for a national title with the Razorbacks?
CASEY MARTIN: Honestly, I never thought I'd be here, to be honest. I dreamed about it my whole life. Dreamed to play for this team. Dreamed to start my freshman year.

And I'm just super excited, as you say, play for these guys. Some cruise in here and some don't. I just want to do what I can for each of them. And it's a dream come true.

Q. Casey and Matt, you have had an incredible season. You won 47 games but is this right now the best the baseball team has played? It seems like you're firing on all cylinders?
MATT CRONIN: Definitely feel like our team is clicking right now, we're doing well offensively and on the mound and defense. And I think it's just the right time to get hot, and I feel like we have a great chance to make a run at this and win it.

CASEY MARTIN: I have to agree with him. Defense is solid. Pitching is there. Hitting is there. We're not being selfish basically. We need to bunt, we're going to bunt. Give yourself up for the next guy. Like I said, we're playing as a team, not just -- playing as a family, not just as a team. I think that's what's pushing us, motivating us.

Q. Isaiah, when you got a couple of runs scored on you right there, I think everybody was kind of like wow, but talk about how you got through that. Koch talked about it, he said, man, just calm down and do your thing. Take us through that, whenever you got back out of that.
ISAIAH CAMPBELL: Yeah, in that fifth inning, I kind of got away throwing with a lot of conviction, went off the gas a little bit. Tried to be too fine and place balls, but me and Grant talked between innings and said keep going, just act like it was the first inning and keep throwing with conviction. That's what I did pretty much, let my defense do all the work tonight, throw strikes over the plate. If they hit it, they hit it. But I trust my defense.

Q. Isaiah and Matt, you guys got through this round using your normal rotation and you didn't really have to do anything out of the ordinary pitching-wise, could you speak to that how important that was?
ISAIAH CAMPBELL: I mean, it was good knowing as a starter for me, Blaine and Casey, we get five, six innings, we know we're in a really good position with Cronin and Loseke and Scroggins and Reindle. We have full faith in our bullpen. Getting three good starts out of the leaders, having the lead going through the bullpen, it was nice.

MATT CRONIN: Playing less innings, it's going to be a lot of help on your staff and it allows us to recuperate these next couple days and be ready for the three-game series coming up.

Q. Do you guys have a preference, Mississippi State got you guys during the regular season. Oregon State is out there really turning it out offensively now.
ISAIAH CAMPBELL: We don't have a preference we're just going to do us, we're going to go out play Arkansas baseball and just focus on us.

MATT CRONIN: I'd love to redeem myself against Mississippi State but honestly there's no difference to me.

CASEY MARTIN: They've all said it all. At the end of the day, it's just a game, just show up and play the game.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. I remember back in the Kentucky series you said -- I think it was after that doubleheader you said you considered taking Isaiah out of the rotation going into that series. Just talk about how far he's come from there to a performance like that to put you in the national championship series?
COACH VAN HORN: Just going back to the Florida series, when he really didn't get out of the second inning, yeah, he didn't have a good start but he was hurt.

He ended up missing almost a month. And we could see that he was coming back slowly.

But I think with Isaiah, it was more about just lack of experience and maybe not being able to handle a little failure. And he had expectations for himself, we did, the team, and I think it just kind of snowballed on him and he started climbing out, climbing up the hill.

And he didn't have the good start in the Regional. And I think that he just worked himself up and got a little nervous, and we could kind of see it before the game even started.

I mean, I think Coach Johnson and I felt the same way that game, that we know him. And then the last two outings, you know, counting tonight, just that's what we thought, that's what we thought we had.

And we kept telling him: We've got to have you. But he's come a long way, and from I guess the Florida series to now, I mean, he's a true SEC starter. Any given day he can shut you down for a while.

Q. What does this mean to you? Seven trips to the College World Series and now you've got a chance to win a national championship.
COACH VAN HORN: What it means to me is that these players are still playing as hard as they can and that I really appreciate that.

And like, I think Casey said it, they're really playing for each other. They don't want the season to end. They feel like that we had our best baseball in front of us. We hadn't played our best baseball, a little here, little there, but never really got on a little bit of a roll. And it means a lot to be here but we still have work to do.

So if we were fortunate enough to win it, then maybe I'd have a different answer for you.

Q. The first inning, obviously you've been able to score the first inning in each game here, just setting the tone. How important has that been here in Omaha?
COACH VAN HORN: It takes a little bit of pressure off your starting pitcher to get a lead. Maybe try not be so fine all the time. Give up a run, it will just be tied.

That was a big hit by Luke. He fouled off a bunch of pitches. I don't know if he saw eight, ten pitches. Finally got a base hit to right field. That was nice. Just a great at-bat.

Q. Against Singer, what is it with your team? I think his ERA is over 11 against you guys in three career starts. What approach do you take against him?
COACH VAN HORN: He's out of our league now, he's gone, we don't have to face him again? (Laughter).

You know, our left-handed hitters have really done well against him for the most part. Now, tonight couple of the righties, Martin got a few hits off him and Luke got a big hit and he got our lefties out a little bit better.

He really tried to pitch us in tonight. And he did a good job, actually. Only gave up a couple of runs to us, maybe an unearned run or two.

But really it's just to see his slider up. Easier said than done. When you get his fastball, don't miss it. But when he's rolling, he gets you to swing at that slider that starts out where we say it's in the tunnel and it disappears. And we've done a good job over the last two or three times we've faced him of not going out of the zone too much. And we've hit some balls on the nose.

Q. You may have just kind of answered this, but in talking the other day after the Tech game about the confidence in your lineup, wondered does it do anything more to boost your guys to another level to do it against Brady Singer, or is he just another guy when he's out there on the mound against Arkansas?
COACH VAN HORN: Well, he's not just another guy. He's one of the guys. We face a lot of those type of guys in our league. We had to go through some really good teams to sit here tonight.

You talk about Texas and -- Texas Tech and obviously Florida, facing guys throwing hard. They have good secondary pitches.

The team's just confident; they think they can hit. We can't hit, but they think they can. Like tonight, there were three, four or five that did. And it was enough.

But every now and then you have a special night or weekend when you have six or seven, eight guys have a good weekend or game, score a lot of runs. And we've done that a little bit.

The batting averages are hanging in there. And finally getting Dominic Fletcher rolling the last few weeks has been a huge plus for our lineup. Obviously Gates is starting to come on. You could go on and on. And Grant Koch is a guy who has been struggling, has been catching great, but he's a guy, would be nice to get him rolling on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday if needed. That could really help us.

Q. Fletcher hit another home run tonight. Just what he's meant to you in these last couple of games. And also Cole's catch in the foul territory in the stands area in right field area, what did you see on that one?
COACH VAN HORN: First on Fletcher, he's just comfortable. He hooked one ball foul and maybe his last at-bat. And that's what he was doing a lot early. He didn't crush that ball. He actually mis-hit it a little bit. He's seeing it good. He flew out to right field on a breaking ball. He just missed it. He was on it, and it was heading to the gap.

That was good for me to see that, that he didn't break out there on the breaking pitch and sometimes hitters get into a little bit of a groove. And he's in it right now. And then Cole's catch was -- I think one of the guys said it, I think it was Cronin, when he threw one pitch, he's got one out.

He got the lead-off man out with a three-run lead with three outs to get. We're counting outs in the dugout. We just need outs. And they need base runners. And that got us an out.

After I saw the replay -- because we couldn't see it. All of a sudden he disappeared. And the crowd started going crazy. And then he comes out. And then we saw the catch. I mean, he actually went on that rail and caught that ball. Looks like it maybe would have gone into the stands. He's a good outfielder.

Q. Saw you waving at the fans. I know how much they mean to you and your guys. Harnessing all that for Monday, do you have a John Wooden speech ready, or just let's just go play some ball?
COACH VAN HORN: No, I call it the new Knute Rockne speech. I said that the other day. I told them I didn't have one of those for them: If I have to give you a speech in Omaha, then, what are we doing here?

You should be highly motivated to be here. And I'll talk to them a little bit on Sunday when we practice. But it's overkill. It's just time to play. Just let them go. We practice. We know the signs. We know how to run the bases. Sometimes we don't, but we're supposed to.

But they know where it's at and they don't really need to hear me. Tonight what I told them -- because sometimes I'll go out there, I'll say does anybody have anything to say?

I'll come at it for 60 games trying to find something to say to you guys before the game. But tonight was basically, it was short and sweet.

And I just said: I don't care if they have the best player in the SEC, and I don't care if they have the best pitcher in the SEC, we have a good team and we need to take it to them. That's all I said. And I turned around and left. And they liked it.

So that's the secret there for you. There's one for you. But I don't have to give them a talk. I don't have to give them a talk; they're ready to play.

Q. I think it was after the LSU game in Hoover, you said something to the extent of you took Isaiah Campbell out because sometimes you can just see it on him. He had that sequence tonight with two outs, you left him in the game. What were your thoughts there, and what did you think about the way he responded?
COACH VAN HORN: He responded by getting the out. We were real close. We just felt like his pitch count was up in the 80s, or real close to the 80s, in the 80s.

And we thought, well, it's a right-handed hitter, let's see if he can get him. We still had two- or three-run lead at the time. And he got him.

I think probably gave him a little bit of confidence, we went out and got him with two outs left in the inning, told him what a great job he did and how proud I was of him and he threw enough pitches. And I said hopefully you're going to get to pitch again.

Q. You mentioned your league. What does it say about your league that you're on the door of the national championship and maybe even in it, you're still facing those familiar faces?
COACH VAN HORN: We figured that there was going to be three or four teams from the SEC make it here. We were hoping that we were one of them.

And we figured we'd have to beat a couple of them to get an opportunity to play those last two or three games of the season.

It's just the way it is. It's like the old cliché, if you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. And this field was loaded.

And I felt like our bracket was extremely strong. And the other bracket's extremely strong. And there's a lot of good teams that didn't get here that are SEC teams. And some from the other leagues.

But we just feel like we just kind of beat on each other all year. We got swept by Mississippi State. And we played three games in less than 24 hours because of weather. And nothing went our way. And they did everything right. And we walked out of there with our tail between our legs. And we had to fight back.

And a lot of people were not happy with us that are fans. And we didn't listen to it. And we just kept fighting and we knew that at the end of the year, if we win enough games, we get to a Regional, we've got a chance to prove that we can get to Omaha, which we did.


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