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May 22, 2019
Durham, North Carolina
Georgia Tech - 12, Notre Dame - 6
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Georgia Tech. We have head coach Danny Hall, third baseman Jackson Webb and starting pitcher Amos Willingham. Coach, an opening statement and then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH HALL: Good win. I thought Amos did a tremendous job of going six innings, kind of settling the game. Jackson obviously got a big hit in our big inning.
I thought we did a tremendous job on Sheehan. I thought he kind of had our number early on, a lot of swing and misses, chased him a little bit out of the zone. But then we got his pitch count up pretty quickly, 85 pitches in three innings.
And then looked like we had kind of a comfortable lead, and then we decided to put them back into the game a little bit. But then at the end Keyton Gibson came in, did a tremendous job in relief behind the other two guys.
So happy for the team that we're 1-0. Now we have a chance to play against Duke Friday for a chance to go to the semifinals.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Amos, first couple of batters you struggled a little bit with the strike zone. After you settled in you started to feel more comfortable out there and things went well from there for you. What did you feel out there?
AMOS WILLINGHAM: I felt really good. I threw just a lot of fastballs, tried to attack their hitters. Probably my biggest thing that's hurt me this year has been walks and free bases. So I just went into today with the mentality I wasn't going to allow walks to beat me, and if I was going to get beat it was going to be by them and not by myself.
Q. In the tournament, the game doesn't weigh much, but obviously in terms of the NCAA Tournament and RPI it means something. I'm curious how you approach that particularly with how you want to use the bullpen and that sort of thing?
COACH HALL: We wanted to win this game. We feel like we need to win every game we're playing right now. We want to be playing our best baseball. One of the things we talk about as a team is winning an ACC championship. So we knew today, with Notre Dame losing last night, that we had to win this game to have a chance to play on Saturday.
And so that was the goal and we would have pitched whoever we needed to pitch to win this game so that the winner of our next game has a chance to play in the championship.
So right now that's our focus. We're just trying to win this tournament and play our best baseball.
Q. You had Tristin warming up in the bullpen. I guess after you saw what Keyton was doing you felt, maybe we can save him until Friday and let Keyton get us through it?
COACH HALL: That was the thought. If it stayed at three runs, Tristin English was going to throw the ninth inning. When we added a couple more runs there in the eighth and then added a run in the ninth and kind of had the lead back comfortably, we just felt like Keyton's throwing strikes. Let's put him in there. And I think he only threw 31, 32 pitches. So we felt it good about it.
Q. Jackson, one of the trademarks of this team this year has been working the pitchers deep into the count, piling up their pitch count in the early innings. I guess that was one of the things you try to do in this game, seemed like it worked pretty well?
JACKSON WEBB: Yeah, for sure that's kind of been a mindset of mine throughout my career. That's kind of what I try to do when I go up is I feel like I know my role as a hitter, and I feel like I can still get hits and still put good swings on the baseball deep into the count.
So I just go in there every at-bat just trying to work the guy, get a good pitch. And sometime it works out in my favor, sometimes it doesn't. I feel more often than not I'm able to put a good at-bat together.
Q. Jackson and Amos, it's been a couple of games since you put a big number up on the board like you did in that one inning. What did that means offensively, hey, we put a big, crooked number up? The same for the pitcher; what did that mean to you guys?
JACKSON WEBB: I know offensively it takes some of the pressure off because you're thinking, oh, shoot, we haven't put up that five, six, seven spot that we're accustomed to putting up. So offensively it just kind of let's you take a breath, kind of a sigh of relief, okay, like, we're back, we're rolling. And it's a good time to get rolling. So it's very good.
AMOS WILLINGHAM: Pretty much the same thing. It just takes a lot of pressure off. I've been pretty lucky in the games I've thrown this year that I've had just tons of run support. And it just makes you relax more as a pitcher. And you just kind of -- one thing you can't do is relax too much where you're not executing your pitches as well as you should be. And so you just have to be mentally in the game regardless of what the score is.
Q. How important was the strike 'em out, throw 'em out in the second inning?
AMOS WILLINGHAM: That was a big momentum play just to kind of get me going and I think it helped the team as a whole as well just because double plays are inning killers and they're a pitcher's best friend. So to get the strike 'em out, throw 'em out was pretty big.
Q. And Danny, the inning they scored all the runs, it's not like they were killing the ball. I mean what do you do when something like that happens?
COACH HALL: You just hope they don't hit one over the wall. That's all I'm thinking. And they've got Gilgenbach up there, which is one of their home run guys. So we didn't play real good defense. They benefited by chopping a couple of balls and got them in the right spot. But felt like they had a chance to get a couple of outs if we just make a play defensively and we didn't do it.
But give Keyton Gibson credit. He came in and kind of bailed us out of a tough spot against Gilgenbach, who is one of their home run guys.
Q. Couple of weeks ago when you were here I think you had your way with Duke the first couple days. Did maybe that last game of that series get your attention a little bit?
JACKSON WEBB: I would say, yes. It's kind of been that way I feel a lot of the year with our inability to sweep. But I feel like the tournament sets up well for us because we have that day off tomorrow. And so we're going to be coming back.
And I feel like a lot of times you take your foot off the gas on that Sunday game, or, in the case when it's a Sunday game that we need to sweep -- I guess that's every case, but -- (laughter) -- if you really think about it.
So I feel like we take our foot off the gas often on Sunday when it's an opportunity to set. And the tournament sets up well for us to all gas through the rest of these next couple of games.
Q. Jackson, can you describe your at-bat in the fourth inning? And also can you speak to what you see out of Colin? I think it was 17 pitches he saw in the first two at-bats, and that kind of serves as the team's purposes of wearing pitchers out?
JACKSON WEBB: Definitely, Colin had a great day. I think he had three, three hits, maybe four hits. That line drive off the wall was huge. Having him in front of you, he always works deep into at-bats, and you get to see a pitcher's stuff, see what he likes to go with in certain counts, and especially if there's a righty up I get to see how he approaches a left-handed hitter. So that's big up having him up there. He always gets the pitcher's pitch count up.
And the at-bat in the fourth inning, it started off with a fastball outside. I didn't really think it was a strike. I kind of let my emotions get the best of me right there. And then I said I have to get something in the air in the outfield. I got a pitch, it kind of bared down in on me. Didn't quite get the barrel there, but was able to squeak it in there. So I'll take it.
Q. Right spot at the right time?
JACKSON WEBB: Yes, you need those every now and then.
Q. Danny, you used Luke today, 16 pitches. Will he be available Friday?
COACH HALL: Yeah, I think all those guys will. We'll see how Gibson feels tomorrow. He threw 32, but I think everybody else will be good to go. Bartnicki was the one that kind of just, a couple of bouncers that we just didn't handle for him. I thought he threw the ball pretty good. We just didn't make a play when we needed to. But he'll be fine.
Q. Connor will go on Friday?
COACH HALL: Connor Thomas on Friday.
Q. What, that game, what are your thoughts about the matchup and what this game means as far as getting -- advancing and --
COACH HALL: I think Duke is really good. I don't know who they're going to pitch. But I assume it's probably Gross, who is their Friday night starter. And he's good. He was good against us up here.
So, it's a game to put you into Saturday, which is semifinals. And so two really good pitchers going at it.
The thing I like about Connor throwing on Friday is that he's on kind of normal rest. He threw Friday last week so he's had a full week of time to kind of recover and kind of a normal rest for him before the start.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports