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June 18, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We're welcoming Coach Schlossnagle, Coach Martin, Coach O'Sullivan, and Coach Savage.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: We're awfully excited to be a part of this tournament here. Obviously it's every team's goal to get to the last tournament of the year. And obviously, with it being the last year in Rosenblatt, we feel even more excited to be here. We know it's a great field. Should be a great week of baseball and we're looking forward to playing our best.
THE MODERATOR: Next we'll have Coach Mike Martin from Florida State, your opening remarks, please.
COACH MARTIN: I'd like to ditto what Kevin said. It's an exciting time for all of us that have had the pleasure of watching the tournament here for so many years and knowing now that this is the last year is extremely special for players, coaches, and fans. And we're just very, very excited about having this opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Schlossnagle, your opening remarks.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: It's a great honor for all of us to be here, especially the Horned Frogs and TCU representing Fort Worth, Texas, and all of our fans back home. I would have been physically ill had we not found a way to make our way here in the last year of Rosenblatt Stadium. And it's a great honor to be up here with these three guys. Coach Martin, one of the greatest coaches in the history of our sport, and two guys that I've spent a lot of time with running the roads and recruiting for a long, long time. And I'm really happy for them as well.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Savage, your opening comments.
COACH SAVAGE: It's an honor, and very humbled to be here. On behalf of UCLA and our program, playing in the last year of Rosenblatt is just a dream come true for the entire program, and certainly myself. Our guys have worked extremely hard, like all these teams have. And I'm just honored to be up with all the coaches. I know for Jim and Kevin and myself, our first time, and like Jim said, respect these guys, unbelievably. They've been great young assistant coaches and turned into head coaches. And then Coach Martin, like Jim said, is one of the best college coaches of all time.
So I just feel lucky to be here and representing UCLA and looking forward to good baseball.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now open the floor to questions questions.
Q. Jim and John, you guys both have first-round draft picks who came to school. Could you touch on your reaction when you found out they were coming, and then also sort of their progression since they've been here?
COACH SAVAGE: With Gerrit Cole, that's who you're talking about two years ago won the first round with the New York Yankees. It's like anything else, you recruit them up until June one way. And then June hits and you see what happens in the Major League draft. And you know, it was just -- it was the Cole family that made the decision. We didn't have a whole lot to do with them coming to school in terms of valuing the education, valuing the chance to go to Omaha, which now he is here.
So I could present it a different way and say that we did this and did that, but really it was the Cole family that made the decision and felt it was in the best interests of the player, of Gerrit, in this case, to go to school and mature and come and pitch at UCLA for three years and have a chance to go to Omaha and eventually be a good pro.
I fell off my chair. I couldn't believe it. No, I mean, we felt throughout the summer, August 15th, which is the big deadline now, and we felt comfortable. The only scary thing is you go through the first round and they pass and they pass and they pass and then you've got the big monster at the end which is the Yankees. So that was scary, certainly.
We felt that they were going to go in and sign him. And we were just very fortunate that he decided to go to UCLA.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Almost the identical situation for us. I think all the coaches would agree that when you lose -- when you have a guy get drafted in the 8th, 15th round, those are the ones you're going to work like crazy. And we all have our sales pitch for college baseball. But in Matt Purke's situation, all those things out the door. We made the sales pitch ahead of time. He knew what college baseball was all about, what TCU was all about. And then it was a decision that he and his family -- they were very, very upfront with everybody in the draft, what he felt like his value was. And he actually, for a two and a half month period, it was pretty much a sure thing that it was going to happen. We decided the Rangers were in a unique situation that we were the benefactor of.
We literally did nothing other than say, hey, big guy, if this is what you decide to do, we're here. And it all went down in the last second. Actually on our campus, because he had not been through orientation yet.
So the signing deadline was on a Monday night, and he was on campus Saturday, Sunday, Monday, going through orientation, and left us about noon on Monday to kind of hole up in a hotel room with his family. And I didn't talk to him again until 11:04 when the cell phone rang and he was pretty emotional and he said, Coach, just want to know if you have a roster spot for me. And I said, We'll find one.
Q. This is for all of you. What have you learned as a coaching staff about the personality and development of your student-athletes from fall camp through the rigors of the year post-season play? Appreciate your thoughts.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I think every team is unique. Our situation is that we're very, very young. We start two freshmen on the weekend, starting pitchers. I think four of our top six hitters in the lineup are freshmen.
So a lot of it was development in the fall. And then you kind of progress. You've got to be patient. We as coaches need to be patient. We went through some stretches like everybody does where we don't play quite as well as you like. But we had to treat this team with kid gloves and just know we were going to go through some tough times.
But playing in the SEC, they've got to grow up in a hurry. We were tested early on. We challenged ourselves with arguably one of the best schedules in the country. We played Florida State four times. Ended up playing Miami five times. Then you've got an SEC schedule.
So they worked awfully hard, and a lot of them had really good resumes before they came to school, but you don't quite know what you're going to get until you throw them in the fire.
But they progressed. They worked hard. The younger players kind of meshed in and bought into the team concept right away. So here we are.
COACH MARTIN: I think with our club, started the year off with high expectations. And we lost our second baseman very early in the year. 22, 23 games later, he got a chance to play. And he has certainly made a difference in our club.
But I think like Kevin said, as you watch the young guys grow up, and we've had a couple of guys that are freshmen that have really matured. And I think it's because they were around the Tyler Holts and the Mike McGees and the Geoff Parkers and the guys that have had an opportunity to play out here and know how much fun it is and everything that goes on out here. They wanted to end their season here.
I think their influence had a lot to do with these young men staying not only level headed but keeping their feet on the ground, because this game will test you. And we lost -- I hate to bring this up -- we lost a five-run lead in the 9th inning to a ball club. And at that point we decided to put McGee in as a closer.
And I think that was a turning point in our season, when we made that decision.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: For our club, we felt like we had an Omaha club last year that got sent to a really tough place, number one national seed. For a program that had never been in the Super Regional, we played to the brink of that in Game 3. To be honest with you, I love my team, like everybody does, and from day one, we felt like that we had earned the right and would earn the right to be back in the exact same spot that we were last year this past weekend.
And we've been very consistent. We felt like we were going to return -- we did return all but one significant pitcher from last year's team, and we replaced him with a first rounder. And I knew that the core group of our club, namely Brian Holaday, our catcher, would be back, and he's just one of the greatest leaders I've ever been around.
He's the ultimate dirtbag player and he refuses to allow our guys to do anything other than their best. And as coaches we all try and influence that, but when they hear it from a peer, it's significantly different.
Knock on wood, we stayed relatively healthy through the course of the season. And like all these teams, the starting pitching has been very good and anytime you can roll a guy out there that's as good or better than the other team, he's going to give you a chance on that day. So that's what's got us to this point.
COACH SAVAGE: We started off very well, won the first 22 games of the season, felt we were battle-tested. We played Oklahoma, Vanderbilt. Played an extremely tough schedule. And then we went into the Pac-10 conference, which was very, very tough this season.
Eight teams went to the post-season. We fought through that. We finished second behind a very, very good Arizona State team.
We changed our roster for the most part offensively from the last season. Got much more left-handed. We wanted to be more athletic, both in the outfield and infield, and that seemed to generate offense offensively. If you look at our numbers, they don't really tell the story.
We don't have the home runs that a lot of these teams have, and the big RBI guys, they're not there. It's just kind of West Coast baseball that kind of chipped away. Rick Vanderhook had a major influence on our program. Rick spent 19 years at Cal State Fullerton, went to Omaha I think ten times as an assistant with Augie Garrido and George Horton, and had a major influence on our offense.
Our strength is our pitching. We like our pitching from top to bottom.
And we hit some bumps along the way. Arizona State swept us. Oregon came in and got us 2 out of 3. And I think we've won 18 out of the last 21 games, and went through a very tough regional with LSU and UC Irvine.
Then we had to face Fullerton again in the Super Regionals, and we were very fortunate. We lost the first game, battled back, and down to our last out. So we feel, like I said, we feel good about ourselves but we also feel fortunate to be here. And that's our story.
Q. Jim, after this year and what happened last weekend, what do you do to fight off any sense of satisfaction from your team?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: The College World Series. I don't think there's anything I have to fight off, other than I think what we talked about last week, is where, in Austin, in that environment, against that team, on that turf, against that coach, Coach Garrido, all of our challenges were within the walls of the stadium. I think in Omaha, no disrespect to the fans that will be here tomorrow, but I think all of our challenges will be outside the walls of the stadium and all the things that we've had to handle in the last 24 hours and just the environment and all the great things that Omaha brings that can be distractions on the field.
So I'm pretty sure -- I mean, we have a very, very driven club. Again go back to Holaday. We've kept our blinders on. We talk about all the time all year long and I don't really think -- I really think we'll be ready to play. Whether we play well or not remains to be seen. But we've been a pretty consistent club throughout the course of the season.
Q. What's the best part of being here so far as the head coach for the first time?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Best part? Practice today. Anytime you can get away from all the stuff away from the field and get a chance to just be on the field with your guys and see their faces. And the dinner at The Drover was good followed by ice cream at Zesto's. That's good too. Took them to Drover and then straight to Zesto's yesterday.
Q. Mike, you've been here a number of years. Just some of your memories of Rosenblatt, favorite moments and how much you're going to kind of miss this stadium.
COACH MARTIN: Obviously it's just so special to get off the plane and to see people that are so genuine, so sincere. They're as excited to continue to host this event as there is in America. No other sport has an atmosphere like this year in and year out. Memory-wise, I kind of like Drew's ding dong, hitting against Oklahoma in '95 to win a ball game. I wasn't real excited when Varitek went off the foul pole to beat us in '94. But just so many exciting times. I don't think there's any question the most exciting time I had was when our son had the privilege and honor to play out here in '4 and '5. That was of course the one I remember. I want to live long enough to see his son play out here. Dang sure ain't going to coach him.
Q. Mike, Sherman Johnson is a guy that surprised a lot of people this year. What did you see from him during his walk-on tryout and his progression this year?
COACH MARTIN: It's the epitome of what college baseball is all about. The guy got a chance, took advantage of every opportunity he had. He weighed 155 pounds when he came in. Had never been in an arena like that. And he got involved with players that were hard workers. He jumped right in there with them. He now weighs 183. He said he lost two pounds in that 100-degree heat we had last week. But he has gained, like I say, right at 30 pounds and developed into a very good third baseman. He was a second baseman when he came in with us. But that's what college athletics can do for a young man if he truly gets after it. And he got after it.
Q. Coach Savage, have you decided what you're going to do about second base and what did you tell your team after you lose your number three hole hitter in a freak accident like that?
COACH SAVAGE: Well, it looks like we'll go with Cody Regis at second base. He's a high school shortstop. We've recruited a lot of infielders and our shortstops coming into our programs. We'll move him over to second base. We also have Adrian Williams who backed up Niko Gallego all year, can play second base. And looks like it will be Trevor Brown and Dean Espy over at third base.
Very unfortunate what happened to Tyler Rahmatulla. You see it every Super Regionals. Sometimes you see it during the regional. You see it all the time in Major League Baseball in the playoffs and certainly the World Series.
Very unfortunate. He broke his wrist in the dogpile. At the time, no one even knew anything about it. Literally we got word the next night that it had been x-rayed and they found a fracture on the wrist, but we'll move on.
We lost Cody Keefer late in the season. He's not played a game since the walk-off home run since USC. Like any of these guys, everybody has injuries. People go down all the time in this game, and you just move forward. Like Coach said, you have 27 guys on your roster, guys that want that next opportunity. So we're not going to -- I'd like not to talk about it all week, really, about the dogpile, but it is what it is.
But as a team perspective, our guys will be ready and looking forward to the challenge of filling that role.
Q. Coach O'Sullivan, you've been here as an assistant. Could you talk about leading your own team here now. And Coach Savage, you guys all have the JWs on your hat. Could you talk about the impact of Coach Wooden?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I don't want to take anything away from my first three trips here when I was at Clemson. They're all special. But the fact is when you get an opportunity to be a head coach, there's only one time that you get a chance to come to Omaha with your first team. So this is extra special. Very much involved in the recruiting process. Know all the families, the brothers and sisters and moms and dads. To see their faces while we were signing autographs, that's when it hit home for me. Kind of hit home for me.
We had a good practice and all. But when the kids were signing autographs and when I saw the families and how excited they were, that kind of woke me up a little bit. You get one chance at a big job like this, and we worked awfully hard to do the best job we can. But you only get one shot at Omaha the first time. It's been extra special for sure.
COACH SAVAGE: The JW on our hats is obviously for Coach Wooden. Coach Wooden is the coach of all coaches. We feel honored and humbled to be at the school he was at for a very long time. All the national championships he won as a UCLA basketball coach. His passion. When I first got the position at UCLA, I was very fortunate to go to breakfast with Coach Wooden and Dan Guerrero, our athletic director.
The guy talked the entire time about baseball. His first love was baseball. I was very fortunate to go to a brunch with Mike Scioscia and Joe Torre and Vince Scully and Coach Wooden. It was probably January of this past year. Just feel very honored and humbled.
Our players -- I passed those stories along to our players, certainly about his passion toward baseball and his love toward the game. And he followed us this season. And what can you say? He's the man. And he's the coach of all coaches. And we just feel very honored to be able to put his initials on our hat. We also have a JW sticker on our helmet and just out of respect to him and his family and all his accomplishments at UCLA.
Q. Jim, could you, as a guy that's making his first appearance here, could you kind of put in perspective a guy on your left who made 14 -- this is his 14th, and what kind of accomplishment that is among coaches?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: You question whether you should be on the same stage with this guy. The same thing last weekend with Coach Garrido, you know. It's almost 40-year-old head coach. I came here as an assistant in 2001 with Tulane. But it's significantly different. And I started my college coaching career at Clemson University with Bill Wilhelm, also one of the greatest to ever coach our sport.
Spring of 1993, I'll never forget, I was a volunteer coach, and we were playing at Florida State. I was 22 years old. We had a fifth-year pitcher Chad Phillips. And Coach Wilhelm asked me to go to the mound and talk to him. He's six months older than me. He looked at me and said, what in the world are you doing out here and what are you going to tell me?
I just remember that day and the great players at Florida State and just Coach Martin has always been very, very nice. The last time I was at The Drover was in 2005 at dinner with Coach Martin when we had the National Player of the Year. At that time I think Shane Robinson was representing Florida State and Lance Broadway was representing TCU.
So I'm originally from Maryland and grew up a big ACC fan and I went to school in North Carolina. I've kind of moved away since then. But I've always followed everything about the ACC and of course Coach Martin represents the very, very best of that conference in that part of the country.
Q. Kevin, could you talk about going with Panteliodis tomorrow and obviously his performance last week and having him close out that game with 116 pitches, how much confidence maybe he gained from that and you have in him?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: He's given us quality starts all year long. The thing with him is he's pitched extremely well when we've gotten a lead. He has never kind of let his guard down, so to speak. And obviously anytime you go into a weekend series or tournament setting, you can get a complete game from your Friday night starter, you gotta feel good going into the rest of the weekend, because your bullpen is rested.
But he's accepted the role and responsibility of being a number one guy. There's a huge difference between being a number one guy and a number two guy on a college pitching staff. You've got a lot of things to put on your shoulders and that type of thing.
But he's been really consistent for us. He throws strikes. He's competitive. And he pitches well when he gets a lead.
Q. For the other coaches, who your starters might be for tomorrow. Then I guess a question to all the coaches. With the energy and the enthusiasm of the fans and the adrenalin going, what's that challenge, as George Horton used to tell me, how do you slow the game down and slow the game down once the umpire says play ball?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: As far as slowing the game down, everybody's philosophy is a little different. We try to push the pace a little bit. We like our pitchers to get the ball and go. Our guys play better defense when we do that.
And obviously you've got to adjust to the team you're playing and that type of stuff. But our whole philosophy is to put the ball in play pitching-wise. We don't like to work deep counts. We don't wow people with a lot of strike-outs, even though we've got good arms. We don't walk people for the most part. We played really good defense for the most part this whole year. And a lot of it has to do with our pitchers. We don't walk people. We don't have a lot of deep counts, and we put the ball in play.
COACH MARTIN: Our starter will be Sean Gilmartin from Moorepark, California. And we also like to play a fast-paced game. And just like everybody seated up here, we just hope that our young men pick the ball up and throw it over there if it's hit to them.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Matt Purke will be the starting pitcher for us. Matt pitches like his rear end's on fire. I promise you. I know Coach O'Sullivan's philosophy. It's a race to get back to the pitcher's rubber after he gets the ball. You'll see that.
I think if you have to talk about slowing the game down, when you're in Omaha, you're a little late. And I think what you mean and Coach Horton means when you're slowing things down when things go bad or they start to head that direction. We practice those things all year, talk about them, whether it's a mid-week game in front of 200 people on the road or whether it's this time last week against University of Texas in front of 10,000 Longhorn fans.
I think Matt handled that really, really well. I anticipate he'll do the same tomorrow. But we'll find out.
COACH SAVAGE: Our starter will be Trevor Bauer. He's been our No. 2 guy all season. He's as good as any No. 1 in the country. Trevor left high school early a year ago, came into UCLA in January of his freshman year, and was the freshman pitcher of the year in the country. Won ten games, pitched with Team USA along with Gerrit Cole. Won ten games this season. He's a guy that will come at you with four pitches, very aggressive, but also a guy that, for his age, has really made a big impact in our program. He's won 19 games in two seasons.
So we feel very confident with Trevor, and he just needs to go out and pitch his game. And he's facing a very good offensive team in Coach O'Sullivan's club, and it will be a tremendous challenge for him. But he wants the ball, and tomorrow night he'll get the ball.
Q. Kevin, I wanted to ask you about Matt coming back this year. How appropriate has it been for him to accomplish his goal of getting to Omaha in his last year, and what has he meant for you guys considering you are such a young team, his his veteran leadership?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I think that's been the focus of our team, how consistent the freshmen have been. But I think Matt has a lot to do with their success. From day one, he's taken them under his wing. He's shown them the way, the way we want to do things, not only on the field but in the weight room, off the field, academically, what we expect study hall-wise, being on time, all those things.
The things he's been able to give to our program are immeasurable. He's kind of a soft-spoken kid, but he's got a fire burning within him that a lot of kids don't have. But as far as his baseball ability is concerned, I know everybody likes their club, but I've said, and I'll go on record, I think he's one of, if not the best defensive center fielder in the country.
I know Coach Martin's got a really good one, too, but he covers a lot of ground. He's a true center fielder. His bat has really come on here the last month and a half. He had one game, I think he was 5 for 5 against LSU. And ever since, he's been seeing the ball really good.
But his intangibles go way beyond just what he does on the field. His leadership. His peers look up to him. It's going to be sad to see him go but we're awfully excited he came back for his senior year.
Q. Mike, how has Tyler Holt maybe taken on more of a leadership role this year as a junior, and he talked about the last time coming to Omaha as a freshman as opposed to now?
COACH MARTIN: It's been fun watching that young man grow up. He's along the same lines as Matt. He's just a guy that plays extremely hard every day. And when you're sitting over in the dugout, you don't really enjoy seeing him come to the plate, just like I don't enjoy seeing den Dekker coming to the plate.
But Holt is a guy that's very vocal. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. And he's one of a kind, is about the only way I can say it. He's a dirtbag, a fireball, a redneck, take your pick. (Laughter).
Q. Coach Martin, can you give us your assessment of TCU and what makes them good and what you're worried about tomorrow, if anything?
COACH MARTIN: Well, I think when you look at TCU and what Jim has accomplished in a short period of time, you've really got to take your hat off. This is a program that nobody even thought about five, six, seven years ago. Jim comes in and starts really getting after it recruiting-wise, and now he's got a tremendous fan base.
I got to watch the ball games that they've played against Texas. Heck, they had a tremendous turnout there at Disch-Falk. Horned Frog. How do you make that thing? I'll tell you right now. It's an outstanding program. They belong here. They deserve to be here and to do what they did in Austin is an unbelievable accomplishment.
THE MODERATOR: Coaches, thank you very much.
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