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June 18, 2011
Vanderbilt Ã‚â€“ 7
North Carolina - 3
THE MODERATOR: Tim, give us an overview of the victory.
COACH CORBIN: Obviously a big victory for us. Sometimes you never know how you're going to react out here for the first time. But I thought the kids were very comfortable during BP today. When we started the game, Sonny grinded it through.
But obviously we got very good relief pitching from Corey and Will Clinard and Kevin finishing up. And some big, big two-out hits today were the story. Guy on my right with a big home run, and that's what we needed, because that's a pesky ballclub; they keep coming. So we're fortunate.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Corey, if you could talk a little bit about coming into that situation and what you did in that fifth inning and what you were able to do to execute the next few innings.
COREY WILLIAMS: I just came in there, and D.J., our pitching coach, he talked to us about knowing our plan when we come into tough situations, what to use, use our strengths and stuff.
And I went in there, tried to get a first pitch strike, so threw a curveball. And then got another strike, and then tried to get a two-seamer on his hands. He missed it. I was fortunate for that.
Throughout the rest of the game I just went out there tried to challenge them and make them make the mistakes, and me just trying to get the ball over the plate and not walk them and give them freebies.
Q. Connor, could you talk about the home run; the pitcher said it was a 3-1 slider, and whether you were expecting that?
CONNOR HARRELL: We knew Patrick Johnson had a pretty good arm, we knew it was going to take a lot to move him out. He was sort of living off the plate, throwing breaking balls. Breaking ball was pretty good, but he was able to leave it up for a second and I got under it, extended, and got it in the jet stream.
Q. Coach, it seemed like this was a game that really could have gotten away from you at various junctures in the game. Talk about what it says about this baseball team, your baseball team, that you were able to battle and figure out a way to win? And, secondly, in a tournament of this caliber, does it take winning games like this, games that arguably you could have, should have lost, in order to get where you want to be at the end?
COACH CORBIN: Well, you're right. The fifth inning was kind of a decider. After all, they had plenty of guys reach base today. The fact they only scored three runs, we were fortunate, we pitched out of jams. And Sonny did early.
But Corey's strikeout obviously with the bases loaded was big. But we have been a team that has been able to get ourselves through the middle of a game and then put games away in the 7th, 8th and 9th inning with some runs. We've played a lot of close ballgames up until the 7th and 8th inning and then we've separated ourselves. That was kind of the story today. But the pitching at the end was crucial. We were able to stop them.
Q. A little earlier Coach Fox said he thought that Connor's home run really deflated them even more than he might have expected. How could you talk about the game-changer that was?
COACH CORBIN: It certainly was a momentum switch for us, because of just coming off the inning in which we shut them down, and they probably felt like at that point they had a chance. But then the big home run. Particularly since it was with two outs. Conrad's hit was big, too, to propel the inning and give us a chance to score.
But Connor's home run was a difference-maker at that point. And I felt the extra inning, the 8th, when Tony and Gomez got up, Tony Kemp and Gomez got those big hits, those were clinching moments.
Q. Tony, a lot is made about teams that make their first trip to the College World Series. Can you kind of talk about what the bus ride over here was like today, what batting practice was like, were you guys loose, nervous, looking around, what was going on?
TONY KEMP: It was the same. Coach Corbin told us to prepare like it was just another game, just another SEC home opener.
Everyone was loose, making jokes, laughing, just like they do every game. And then we prepared the same. And then luckily we were able to get the "W" today. So it was a good job by the team.
Q. Tony, can you just comment on the catch you made with the bases loaded there? Did you think you had a chance at it right away? And when did you decide to take a chance and dive for the ball?
TONY KEMP: I was originally in the gap, and then Coach Holliday and Corbin kind of shifted me towards the line. A little tough to see with all the people there.
But the lefty got a ball up; and once I started running in, it looked like I had a chance, decided to lay out there and luckily I lifted my glove and the ball was there. So that was good.
Q. Corey, I was wondering when you were going through your knee rehab, all the days of work, have you ever had a time where you dreamed about maybe being in a setting like this and having a day like you had today?
COREY WILLIAMS: Like I came here when I was 12 years old, and then besides that, just Chris Ham really helped me, our trainer, throughout the whole year when the injuries happened. Without him, the support of Coach Corbin and all my teammates, I don't know, I'm just glad to be pitching again. It's a dream come true. It's unbelievable. I love every one of these guys. It's an unbelievable time right now.
Q. Important shutdown in the sixth inning. They put runners on first and third, did you think about going back to zone back there, or what was the thinking leaving (indiscernible) pitch the rest of the way?
COACH CORBIN: I'm sorry, that was quick. First and third?
Q. Did you think about going to zone after that?
COACH CORBIN: No, we were going to go with our guys who had been out there more. We really wanted the guys who were a little bit older who had been in that situation. We were saving Ziomek for the end of the game if they had guys in scoring pitching, when their lefties came up.
They had a string of three lefties we knew they weren't going to take out, we felt that was the best matchup. We were going to wait until the 8th or 9th for that even though we had him down there.
Q. Connor, you hit the first home run at the College World Series in this ballpark; do you want to make a plea to get the ball back?
CONNOR HARRELL: No. They can keep it. I didn't even think about it until I guess after the game someone brought it up. I guess it's a pretty cool trivia fact.
Q. Tony, three for four and a walk. Can you talk about the impact you had today; and, Coach, maybe you could address that, too?
TONY KEMP: Luckily in the first inning I think that the fastball was going to come, so I decided to take a swing at it.
And then went foul first. Then luckily I was able to get the bunt down. And coach asked me to put pressure on them just like he does every game. Luckily I was able to do that.
And then teammates behind me in the lineup, I think we just did a great job hitting the ball today. And had a ton of great pitching. And we have Corey and Ziomek and Clinard, just go down the bullpen, they do an amazing job every game, I think that was to our success.
COACH CORBIN: He was a catalyst today. He got on base, what, four different times. I liked his mentality to start the game off. Because in a situation like that, putting a bunt down, putting the pressure on them right away I think was a key moment. It kind of broke the ice for us, and get him over to third base and then score.
But he played a very good game today, both offensively and defensively. That was a very nice catch. And we had some good defensive plays, too, to stop those moments.
Westlake's play there at the end was phenomenal. Esposito's play, diving in the 6-5 hole was a great play. So we did some nice things and ground ball defensive plays.
Q. Could you just talk about what Sonny was struggling through today, what was going on with him?
COACH CORBIN: Yeah, he was probably just trying too hard. You never know. I've been to these games, these first games of Omaha, sometimes they're very difficult on the starting pitchers.
You've got two highly skilled guys in Gray and Johnson and they threw a lot of pitches. They didn't get through the middle part of the game. You've seen that happen so many times, probably just trying a little bit too hard.
He doesn't walk that many people and he doesn't have that hard of a time throwing strikes, typically, but he didn't feel great. He was grinding through it. Gave us what he had. You can't knock him. He's done such a good job to put us in this position to begin with.
Q. Connor, after that home run you got back in the dugout, what was the mood like? Did it feel like everything had kind of changed for you guys?
CONNOR HARRELL: It was exciting. I felt like I sort of helped the team, which I hadn't at my first two at-bats, and it was exciting for me to come in and sort of drive those runs in. And, more importantly, I think the fact that we had a lead, we had some momentum going into the last three innings was the most important thing about it.
Q. Tim, in the NCAA tournament you've been more willing to go with relievers for longer stints, two, three, four innings at times. Could you talk about the decision to do that?
COACH CORBIN: Yeah, because they settle in the ballgame. They're in the game. They feel a little bit better. Sometimes when you put a first-timer in there, we did it to Ziomek today. And going back, I don't know if I would have done that or not.
But the good thing is he's in the game. He felt that rubber, which is a good thing. But we rode out Will the other night against Oregon State and let Corey go as far as he possibly could. If they were able to ride it out, shut down the hitters, then we probably would let him go to the end.
I think at this point we don't really have a closer, per se, we're just trying to finish the ballgame, and we feel like the depth in our bullpen is so good that we can really utilize anyone. It's not so important who finishes the game, it's just finishing the game with us winning.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports