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June 16, 2019

Butch Thompson

Richard Fitts

Jack Owen

Omaha, Nebraska

Mississippi State - 5, Auburn - 4

BUTCH THOMPSON: Tough one tonight. I thought we played an unbelievable game. A lot of engagement, a lot of fun. I just thought our guys just really battled against arguably 2019's best starting pitcher in college baseball. Really worked the pitch count. Of course Edouard Julien had the first big swing and then I guess a third run on an RBI.

But I think you would have to give a lot of credit to Rankin Woley. I know he got on before him. The home run and the RBIs is what you noticed, but Woley got on both times right in front of him. I thought Coach Smith did an amazing job with our pitching staff and knowing where we were at coming out of the super regional and what our guys' pitch counts were at, watched them closely this week, and of course we devised a different plan today to piece it together, and I thought everybody really competed within the strike zone for the most part. And for eight and two-thirds I just thought everybody associated did a nice job.

Then we had a chance to win the baseball game, I don't think there's any doubt about that, and just one play away tonight.

Q. I wanted to ask about Rod Bramblett and how his loss has affected this team and how you guys are handling that and how are your approaching that and how you're handling this World Series without him.
JACK OWEN: Rod was a big part of who we are as a university and as a baseball team especially. He was nothing but kind to all of us all the time. He was always supporting us. Losing him was obviously terrible, but I know he's with us and he's been watching over us, as we've gone along this journey right here in the postseason, and I know he's proud of us either way.

RICHARD FITTS: Kind of going off of Jack, everybody was very devastated about it. We all met with Coach Thompson and he was just basically making sure that we were okay with it. In this time everybody has kind of been uplifting of everybody and the whole Auburn family has just grown even closer together than they were before, and that's just awesome, under tragic circumstances.

Q. Jack, just kind of talk about your performance. You kept those guys in check for the most part. Just as a guy who stepped up tonight and as a starter, just kind of talk about moving forward now after a tough loss like that.
JACK OWEN: You can look at it from a couple different ways. They hit some balls hard right at people. They're obviously a very good offensive ballclub. But I think going into that sixth inning I put us in a bad position early and forced us to go to our pen early, when we were a little bit more shallow than some of the other teams here.

So you could say we could have won that game, whatever, but I think that sixth inning I kind of let it go from me a little bit and that affected the rest of the ballgame in terms of pitching, also. We're going to have to come back and do a good job on Tuesday and keep going. It's a long way from over.

Q. Butch, obviously you had a chance to close out that game, but as you looked at the ninth, you're facing Mangum and MacNamee, and you've got plenty of experience with those guys, but how tough is it facing those guys in that situation?
BUTCH THOMPSON: It's a great lineup. I think I'm documented as saying that Vanderbilt and Mississippi State are the two best teams we had seen prior to getting here, and then of course they're both in our bracket.

Again, I'll just reiterate we had a couple things that we really wanted to do to try to keep this game intact, and I think we did it, and I think we gave ourselves a chance at the ballgame.

One thing that they did that we didn't do as good of a job of, Julien's home run changed that and Julien's third run changed that. Why I'm making such a big deal out of that is I wanted to put the ball in play at the same rate that they did, and of course the five guys we had struck out and it didn't happen. Woley found a way on with two outs in the infield, and Julien had the big swing, so that continued.

Again, at the end of the day when I look at it, I knew that that would be paramount, but again, I thought we could have dominated a routine play and finished it off, but we only struck them out three times at the end of the night, and I do have a ton of respect for their offense to hang in there. They were able to just put the ball in play to extend innings when it mattered most in the game.

Q. Butch, baseball is a game that is always demanding you to overcome adversity and tough nights and move on, but how tough will this be, and what do you need to say to them in the next 24 to 36 hours to get them ready to play again?
BUTCH THOMPSON: Tell them to turn in their loops, their laundry, tell them when we're going to have breakfast, when we're going to practice, what we're going to do tomorrow. We've been through a ton, if you've watched our ballclub. These guys, I know them man by man and kind of what makes them go, and we'll be back. This team has really grown a lot.

That Mississippi State ballclub that we just played, they haven't changed. They've been a very steady, great ballclub all year, but we're changed, and we're better, and we've been through a ton. So I don't think much shocks us.

But of course we're hurt. I'm hurt because we invested so much and thought we had a good plan. But at the same time, who knows what'll happen Tuesday.

We went for it, but I guarantee you it won't be because of having to pick them back up and getting them to compete again. That's a standard in our deal that I'm really comfortable with with our ballclub, that they do a great job with that. I think it'll be more about the execution and how much pitching we have. That might be the bigger story, because we went for it. We came to win, and we went for it tonight.

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