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June 25, 2010

Taylor Featherston

Jerome Pena

Matt Purke

Jim Schlossnagle


TCU – 6
UCLA - 2

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by TCU players Jerome Pena, Matt Purke, Taylor Featherston, and head coach Jim Schlossnagle.
Coach, opening statement.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Really good win for us, I think. UCLA has a great club, as good a team as we've played all year, if not the best team.
I thought Matt did a good job of making pitches when he needed to. Pitched behind the count fairly often, but his fastball was really sinking. And normally he's a strike-out guy, and today he was getting a lot of ground balls and we made the plays behind him.
A little nervous after the first three or four innings because I felt like we had Rasmussen on the ropes and didn't cash in enough. The play in center field in the 1st inning, I don't know where in the world that guy was playing. He obviously got a great jump and made a great play, but wind blowing out you would have thought he would be playing a little deeper. But that's what a great center fielder does; he plays shallow and dares you to hit it over his head.
That was a tremendous play. And we just stuck with them. Got the two big home runs late, and Lock pitching on fumes did a great job, especially getting the punchout in the 7th against Amaral, who is, again, a really, really good player. That was huge for us.
And so we survived another day, and we'll get some rest and find a way to scratch and claw tomorrow.

Q. Taylor and Jerome, seemed like you guys were making Rasmussen work a lot early. How important was that? And something you talked about was driving up his pitch count early and kind of forcing the action that way?
TAYLOR FEATHERSTON: We talked before the game we knew they had great starting pitch and great staff. We like to see a lot of pitches as he did start off the game close ten pitch at-bat and drive the pitch count up and get into their bullpen early. That's one of the things we talk about every day. Once you are in the bullpen, you get new looks and things start going your way.
JEROME PENA: My game plan as lead-off hitter: Get as many pitches as I can for the team. It's really not my at-bat, it's theirs, just so I can see as many pitches as I can.

Q. UCLA has a really good team with lots of great statistics, but one thing I noticed when the opponent scores first on them they're 9 and 7, and then the No. 6 is an important number because if they're trailing after the 6th inning their record isn't quite as gaudy as everything else, and then when the opponent scores six runs. So were your kids aware of that? Was that something that was part of the game plan?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: No, I mean, I think every team's record -- if you score first, it goes up a bunch. That's something we talk about. We have kind of a bulletin board back at our stadium, and the score-first RBIs is a big thing that we talk about.
So it's good to know. But we're just -- you're just trying to get a lead, especially with Purke on the mound, good pitcher on the mound, you're trying to get a lead and keep it.
So we're going to have to do the same -- do the same thing tomorrow. We're going to face a whole boatload of outstanding arms, I'm sure.

Q. Coach, there were a lot of close, very close calls that went against you guys today. Did anybody ever come close to losing their cool out there? Because I didn't see anybody even say anything.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: You know, other than maybe a check swing, I don't know -- I thought the guy was safe at 3rd. I've got a couple of text messages that said he was out. But, you know, one thing we talk about, you control what you can control. If we have to get every call from the umpire to win a game, then we're not very good.
Those are things that happen. And that's just part of it. But this is the College World Series, national TV, Omaha, and at least for me it would have to be something very egregious for me to lose my cool.
If I have to protect one of my players I will, but I don't really think that's part of our game, and nor should it be.

Q. Jerome, not only did you see a lot of pitches that you fought off, but you also hit the ball well. Could you tell us what you saw in the opposing pitching that you liked?
JEROME PENA: I mean, my at-bats, I felt like I got behind on a lot of my at-bats and just battled through. The first at-bat, you know, eight, nine pitches. That was a pretty good at-bat. But came up short with a strikeout. Then my second at-bat, just tried to fist it off because he threw me an inside fastball and just got enough barrel on it to put it out in left field.
And my other at-bats, I just gotta -- my home run? My home run, of course, I was behind in the count again and battling. And I was guessing inside fastball.
And I got it. So I just put a good swing on it.

Q. Matt, just talk about pitching on the stage and what it's like to be here and having already done it. And then for you two guys, talk about what you were able to do on two-strike counts, because they seemed to have a lot of trouble kind of closing you guys out.
MATT PURKE: I mean, this place is an adventure in its own. You never know what's going to happen here. We've been told since we knew we were coming to expect the unexpected here. Anything can happen. Just like our last game.
I mean, that was crazy. But it's just the same ballpark. Just another day of baseball and you've got to attack it the same way. I was able to go out today a little different than what I'm used to throwing, but, hey, I'll take ground-ball outs all day and no balls in the air. So not bad.
TAYLOR FEATHERSTON: I feel like every single one of my bats went strikes this whole tournament. I'm kind of getting comfortable with it a little bit. But up and down the order, solo home runs aren't going to win us games. We understand that. We're trying with two strikes to get the next guy up. Like that long inning we had the other night. If it's not you, it's the next guy. The next guy.
Just trying to put good swings on balls, focusing on the opposite field, and the home runs will show up.

Q. Matt, was there something on that box score that you were particularly interested to see when you came in here and sat down? And, if so, what was it? And also can you just talk about staying in rhythm, especially in those first couple of innings, looked like UCLA was pretty intent taking their time getting into the box?
MATT PURKE: I came in looking at the ERA. I knew I was close to under a 3, and I was hoping today I put enough out there to maybe get down.
Didn't work that way, so have to get another chance to get under the 3.
But, yeah, today's game was just like the game I had against Arizona in the regional. I mean, the guys decided that it was their job to take about 20 minutes between the walk from the dugout to the plate.
So I figured that I was just going to have to wait. Sooner or later the pitch is going to get to the plate. Just a lot of them took longer than most. And you just can't get rattled with that stuff because teams are going to try to do that, try to break up your rhythm. I was able to stay focused and keep getting ground balls, and I figured sooner or later I would get them out and they could take their time on the bench.

Q. Matt, you partially answered it just now, Matt, with them. They seemed to want to dictate the pace to you all afternoon. I'm wondering what it's like facing this lineup. They don't seem to be the most dangerous lineup y'all have seen, but yet they seem awfully patient, awfully pesky.
MATT PURKE: The best I can compare them to is what we faced in Austin, the same kind of team. They really rely on getting the first guy on and being able to do stuff, hit and run, bunt, things like that, put some pressure on you. You really have to focus on getting the first guy out and then keep going from there.
But they'll wait, they'll take as much as they can get. If they can get a walk out of it, they'll take it to get a guy on. So you really just have to focus on throwing your pitches and they'll give you some strikes here and there if you just put it down the middle. You have to focus on getting ahead and taking care of them.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: I'd like to comment on that. It's a very well-coached team, and Rick Vanderhook does a phenomenal job. And the scary part about a team like UCLA is they know exactly who they are.
So the left-handed hitters and the small guys, they know how to handle the bat. And the big guys know how to get their swing off. And that's a scary club, because if you had them do a opposite, if a little guys swung out of their rear end all the time, then they're a lot easier to pitch to.
So they're doing the same thing we talk about: Maximize your time on offense, minimize your time on defense. If a pitcher's dealing against us, we're going to try to slow them down. We're going to do it the right way. We're not going to do it bush league. And I don't think they did, certainly what you saw in the regional, Matt, would you agree?
MATT PURKE: I don't know. I don't know. They were getting the calls from the dugout as well. They were getting the calls from the dugout as well.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: I just think they're very well coached and it's just part of it.

Q. Matt, 13 ground-ball outs today. First of all, how much reassurance do you get from these guys behind you in the infield? And, Coach, if you could comment on especially Taylor at shortstop, how much he stabilized the defense for you this year?
MATT PURKE: These guys played phenomenal behind me. I mean, Jerome joked with me this week the Florida State game I didn't get him a ground ball. He said: I want a ground ball. All right, today I'll get you a few.
Anytime we can get a ground ball we focused on all year, these guys have taken enough and fielded enough that as a pitcher when we get a ground ball we know they're going to make the out almost every single time.
And Taylor made a great play up the middle today, and Jerome had some good ones and Jantzen snagged some balls, and with these guys I have no problem throwing ground balls all day because I know they're going to make the outs.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: I think two things. One, the sign of a good pitcher is the ability to win on -- I thought Matt had good stuff, but he certainly wasn't as dominant as he has been, and the ability to sink his fastball in hitters' counts and get ground-ball outs -- he had some 3-0 counts, he had some 2-0 counts, he had 3-1 counts where he got some ground balls. That's a sign of a really good pitcher. Just like I don't think Rasmussen had his best stuff today, but he kept his team in the game. He's good. And anybody can pitch when you got everything going. That's a piece of cake.
But Matt did a great job. And then these two guys, we knew going into the season that losing three-fourths of our infield, only returning Taylor, that that was going to be a telltale sign of what kind of club we were going to have if we played good defense.
So Jerome has done a good job. He didn't even play the infield in junior college last year.
Witte, the diving play he made in the 7th was pretty big, and he got an in-between hop that he came and got later as well.
So it's all about pitching defense regardless of who you're playing or what park you're in. And we did a good job of that today.

Q. You've got Bauer tomorrow, their Game 1 winner against Florida, I believe. Pretty impressive. What have you seen from Bauer, what has he got?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: He's just outstanding. He's a three- or four-pitch guy. Going to mix all his pitches. A lot of deception with the whole Lindscomb (phonetic) thing, and I know he's quirky in the dugout but he knows exactly who he is. He obviously has a great routine, very mentally strong for a young pitcher.
And I'm sure he's a bulldog. I don't know him. My college coach, Rick Jones, at Tulane coached him, coached those guys, Cole and Bauer in the summertime for the USA Team. He's gone on and on and on about him.
At some point he's got to throw it over the plate, and we'll be there to battle, and, again, it's not about the best teams, it's the team that plays the best. If we play the best, we'll win; if we don't, we'll be going back to Fort Worth.

Q. Jerome, what's up with the Mohawk haircut? Do you think you can convince the rest of your team to get one for tomorrow?
JEROME PENA: You can't -- that's the superstition with what we're doing, and the Mohawk, I got one earlier in the season. Coach told me to cut it off. Then I asked him before conference tournament at the beginning of May if I can do it again. He said yeah, go ahead. That's where it all started.
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: He's not a very good-looking guy.
MATT PURKE: I think he's a pretty good-looking guy. He works it well.

Q. Coach, you walked in here talked about being relieved to survive another day. If you ask UCLA right now, I think they feel like they have their backs against the wall a little bit. Talk about going into this one game where they cruise through the first two and you have your issue and what it's like in this one match-up?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: I mean, it's classic. This is what Omaha's all about. You have two really good programs, two very well-coached teams. And they're still in the driver's seat because we had to play one extra game. And I had to bring my ace reliever back on one day's rest after throwing 65 pitches. Certainly I can't imagine Lockwood pitching tomorrow.
So, I mean, we're both against the wall because it's an elimination game. I don't know who in the heck we're going to pitch tomorrow. We have to have some conversation about that. We have some options. We have good options. But certainly Bauer's pitching on, what, a week-plus rest, and Cole hasn't pitched since Monday night. So don't let Coach Savage fool you there. Pretty loaded down there.

Q. The weather was more Texas weather than California weather today. Did that help you out and could it help you tomorrow if you play the earlier game?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Good question. I've seen that happen a lot. Obviously not here because we haven't been here. But I've seen it happen a lot. It happened to Arizona in our park. And I think this time of year, those kids would be ready to play. I mean, our guys were pretty taxed. Taylor was struggling there towards the end of the game. But it definitely could play a role. So we'll see what time we play tomorrow.
But this time of year, I mean, these guys are 18 to 22. At least our guys, they grow up in the South and they're used to playing summer ball, double-headers and stuff like that. So I would like to think it's an advantage for us. But who knows. We'll see how it plays out.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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