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June 23, 2018

Pat Casey

Adley Rutschman

Tyler Malone

Kevin Abel

Omaha, Nebraska

Oregon State - 5, Mississippi State - 2

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Oregon State coach Pat Casey, student-athletes Kevin Abel, Adley Rutschman and Tyler Malone.

COACH CASEY: First of all, we're proud of our club to fight through the loser's bracket get the opportunity to fight for a national championship. It's special. Our guys, you could see, we were running on fumes.

Mississippi State, what a tremendous club they have. Gary Henderson, the job he's had at Mississippi State is second to none. That's pretty impressive.

And my hat's off to him and the whole deal. It's a tough day when you lose at Omaha. But it only takes a day or two for everybody to realize how special it was to get here.

So unbelievable start out of Abel being a freshman kid to go out in that environment. Mully, we really didn't have a lot of options after that. He sucked it up and did well. We knew they were going to compete. We had two outs and nobody on.

Anyway, just a great effort by us and a tremendous ballgame.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Kevin, anything in particular working for you today, and how did you feel while you were out there?
KEVIN ABEL: I mean, it felt great to be out there have our fans with my back. And the changeup felt really good first couple of innings and I lost it kind of in the middle of the game. It came back to me in the sixth and seventh, helped get me through. Curveball was kind of hit or miss today. But fastball location and fastball command, that's probably the biggest thing.

When I have that, they didn't do any damage. When I didn't, I walked them, I gave them opportunities to get runs, and that's not what you want.

But when I made pitches, my defense made plays behind me and Nick made some amazing plays and Cadyn made some really hard plays look easy and that was huge.

Q. Adley, what did you see from your perspective with Kevin tonight? Obviously such a huge stage he was on. How did he handle it and what did he do well out there?
ADLEY RUTSCHMAN: I was extremely impressed with Kevin tonight. Just the strides he's made over the season. A lot of you guys haven't been able to see him but at the beginning of the season, no one would have said he would have been starting in the College World Series. But here he is on the biggest stage there is, and just being a competitor out there, as he said. Some of the innings he didn't have the pitches he wanted, didn't throw them where he wanted, but he battled through it and just extremely impressed and I was fortunate to be able to catch him and see him work tonight.

Q. Kevin, just kind of building on what Adley said. Seems like these last couple of outings, especially, that control piece has really come on strong for you. What's been the key to that for you to get that to where it is right now?
KEVIN ABEL: The mental part of everything. That's the only thing. Nothing's changed physically. Nothing's changed from -- I'm not throwing any new pitches or anything. It's all been in my head and believing in myself. And I have the best head coach in the country that believes in me and the best pitching coach in the country that believes in me. I have the best team behind me that believes in me and it was just me that needed to believe in me.

And once that happened, things started to click and I was able to pitch the way I know I can pitch, and I know I've got the best defense in the country. They can hit the ball all they want and it's probably not going to fall. That was the biggest thing to overcome, and once I did that, it's been going pretty well.

Q. Kevin, what was it like for you watching that ninth inning there and obviously Mississippi State loading the bases the guy who started the whole banana na rally up at the plate what's going on in your head?
KEVIN ABEL: That Mully is going to get them out. Mully is a drama queen. He likes to make things fun. (Laughter). We never doubted him. We knows he's been phenomenal all year long coming in at the end of games when we're up ten runs or one-run ballgame, he's been lights out the entire season. And he got a little tired and made a couple of mistakes, but he got the job done, that's all that matters.

Q. Tyler, you did it again today. You had a huge College World Series at the plate. How are you feeling at the plate right now? What's it like for you to be able to come through again and again for this team offensively?
TYLER MALONE: Whenever I go up to the plate, my team's always in my mind. You try to put out your best effort to help the team out and put us in the best situation as possible. And swing-wise I've kind of just relaxed. Up at the plate I've just really kind of calmed everything down and really just tried to eliminate any excess thoughts in my mind and be more reactive, I guess, in a sense, and just trust my talent and my abilities that God's blessed me with. And it's going pretty well.

Q. What was it that you hit and when you hit it did you know it was out?
TYLER MALONE: It was a fastball. I think like middle, middle way. It was right after a curveball he threw in the dirt. And in the situation I kind of geared up for the fastball because of what the count was. And I hit it and I know I hit it good but right/center in this park especially with the wind coming in a little bit, it wasn't like positive right off the bat, but I knew I hit it well.

Q. Adley, obviously you guys were in this situation last year and things didn't end the way you wanted them to. What does it feel like now? What's the feeling like you're going to be playing in this championship series here against Arkansas?
ADLEY RUTSCHMAN: You know, last year we went through the winner's bracket. Didn't play as many games. I think this year it really sinks in more.

You have the opportunity to kind of take a step back and see it's kind of the route that we've taken, two years of hard work, and just to come up short last year, and this year to lose the first game and just kind of see guys like Mully out there tonight who pitched quite a bit and pitchers coming in on sore arms, they're getting the job done, to me, is phenomenal. And I just can't say enough how much I'm proud of the team and how far they've come.

So it's a blessing and just to be able to play for a national championship and play for the goal that we've had for the entire year for two years now, it's something else.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. I think opening weekend when I saw Kevin he went one and a third, was lifted. How have you seen him mature as a pitcher, not only mentally but physically with his stuff this year?
COACH CASEY: Well, his stuff, as you know, was really good. He just couldn't get it where he wanted to.

And I think he's right, until you believe that you can do that, it's pretty hard to do it. So it all started with him trusting himself. And then we had to go out on a limb a little bit and throw him into some games and extend him a little bit and force him in some big situations.

I remember at Arizona, he had the game won and he's in there dialed up, throwing the heck out of it and all of a sudden ball four to the nine-hole guy, hits the lead-off guy before we get the guy up in the bullpen, he's loaded the bases, and we had to come back with him again after that to show him if we've got confidence in you, somewhere along the line you're going to have to get confidence in yourself, and he did.

Q. Tyler Malone keeps on coming up with these big swings for you. What have you seen in his development over the course of the season? I know he hasn't always been an everyday player for you but seems like right now he seems to be a key cog in this machine?
COACH CASEY: There's no question. And he was key in the middle of the pack when we were in the middle there in a stretch where he was really hot and did a lot of good things. He's always had the aptitude to hit, and he's a guy we always thought would hit. And he needs to do that for us. He needs to drive in runs and hit with some power.

So he feels pretty good about that. But we saw him hit in high school. And I thought this guy could come in be a eventual three-hole hitter, and I still believe that he can do that.

Q. You're probably looking ahead to Arkansas tomorrow. But I don't know if you've had a chance to watch any of their games. What's your early thought about this matchup?
COACH CASEY: They're really good. They're complete. They really pitch and hit. To handle Florida twice, pretty impressive. I know how good they are.

And I had the opportunity to watch them play many times during the season and watch the SEC Tournament. And they're really playing well. I mean, they played three games. We played five.

They're coming out with their best guy and ready to roll. We're well aware of how good they are. Dave's done a great job. And we will have our hands full.

Q. Anything in particular going through your mind when they loaded the bases there in the ninth?
COACH CASEY: Yeah, there's a lot of things going through my mind. I just looked at Nate and I said, Nate, I just can't imagine bringing -- we had two guys up. We had Chamberlain up and Heimlich up and I said I can't imagine bringing Chamberlain in in this situation. Mully got us here. He can subtract. He's not -- he was still 90 miles an hour. He just kind of missed a little bit and walked a guy and then missed the slider, hit the kid.

The base hit was -- I think he got inside his barrel jammed him a little bit. Went over the shortstop's head. I just said, hey, he's going to finish one way or the other unless something happens. But the only options we had down there were Chamberlain and Heimlich, and I just didn't feel good with that with this guy being on the mound.

For the first five hitters that he faced he was lights out. It was bang, bang, bang. It's hard to think that it's going to happen that quick. It did. You've got to give Mississippi State credit. They've been feeding off that comeback thing all year long.

But he still had good stuff. He just missed.


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