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June 28, 2011
South Carolina Ã‚â€“ 5
Florida - 2
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for being a great bunch of baseball players and a great program. Kevin, give us an overview first, and congratulations again.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Well, first of all, I congratulate South Carolina. They earned this one. They were a little bit better than us in all phases. They pitched a little bit better.
They hit a little bit better. They played a little bit better defense and they earned it. You know, we knew it was going to be a great series, obviously, because we've been involved in the SEC all year long and it's been like that.
And they earned it. And there's nothing more to be said other than that. And awfully proud of our team and how we battled.
And I feel bad for the guys that are leaving our program, but we got a great nucleus coming back. And, you know, on our way home we'll be already talking about next year.
But South Carolina deserves all the credit. And congratulations to them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Sully, you guys got to Omaha last year. This year you take another step forward. Talk about doing the stepping stone with this program right now.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: It's nice to make steps. But to be honest with you, the idea is to win this thing. And I think there's a lot of disappointed players in that locker room right now.
And our goal year in, year out is going to be to win a national championship. I think we have the pieces in place, facilities, et cetera, to be one of those teams year in, year out. And we're going to be back here. We just -- we want to finish this thing off.
Q. Coach, you talked yesterday about how important it was for your team to bounce back from adversity the way it did in the Super Regional. Did you feel like your team came back the same way it did then with the same intensity, energy, or did you sense maybe a little sense of dejection?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: No, I think they came into the game really good frame of mind. You know, we, unfortunately, didn't make a play there in the infield there in the third and led to two runs.
You know, we had first and second two innings in a row, and we just didn't do enough. That's the bottom line. We didn't get a bunt down to move them over. Then we pressed them up, first and second, and we strike out.
And, you know, they just did a little bit more. And, you know, when you get down to a series like this and both teams are fighting for a national championship, that's what it comes down to. It comes down to a play here, a play there. They played great defense; comes down to a bunt.
And, like I said, they earned it and they just did a little bit more to win the championship. It's as simple as that.
Q. Coach, from your team's perspective, in the last couple of days, was your defensive play your Achilles heel?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I don't know. I mean, last night, you know, I thought it was a great ballgame. And I thought both starting pitchers were outstanding.
And I don't think our defense had a whole lot to do with that. We had our opportunities last night, bases loaded and nobody out and didn't score.
Tonight, we make one error. I mean, I don't want to point to that one defensive play. I mean, the bottom line, South Carolina made all the plays. You know? Retrospect you look back: If we would have made that play, this play. Bottom line is South Carolina just played better than we did the last two nights. It's as simple as that.
Q. What did you tell your guys after the final night when you gathered them at the dugout?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: You know, that we were going to meet in the locker room when we got done with this thing and that we needed to show some class and I know this was hard for them.
I didn't want them to hang their heads. I wanted them to keep their chins up. Unfortunately, only one team can win a national championship. But I wanted them to hold their heads high, and as tough as it was to watch another team celebrate, that was the right thing to do at that point.
Q. Karsten, you kind of cruised through the first two innings and third inning maybe unravelled a little bit. Did you feel there was something mechanically or command-wise that contributed to that?
KARSTEN WHITSON: No, not really. I just think I started nibbling a little bit and pitched behind the count, walked a couple of guys, hit a few.
So it wasn't very good execution on my part of pitches. But, you know, I just knew if I gave up one don't give up two. I just tried to battle out there. Just tried to keep my team in the game as best as possible.
Q. Mike, you've been probably the team's most vocal leader this whole season, and you guys have talked about the hollow feeling you guys had left here last year. Is that feeling the same right now, or can you as a player see the progress that you guys have made and these steps you took to get to the finals?
MIKE ZUNINO: The feeling is definitely the same. Unless you come out here to win it, you're always going to have that feeling.
But, I mean, we made great strides this year. And, I mean, that's just how it worked out this series. I mean, you'll have that hollow feeling unless you win the whole thing.
We had a great year, and that's all we can look back on.
Q. Josh, could you just talk about how you remember this season and speak for the other guys on the team, the seniors, the people leaving the team, what it's meant to be part of this program?
JOSH ADAMS: These coaches, they're the best coaches in the nation. As a player, they help you grow. I think they help you grow even more as a person.
For the seniors who are leaving, you know, it's one of those things we're all going to be coming back. At some point in our life, we're going to come back and going to look back on it.
But obviously for the guys that are still here, I know these coaches are going to keep them in check and they're going to keep grinding. And that's the mentality we have here. And that's definitely what's going to leave with me.
But these coaches have done great things, and that's the main thing I've gotten out of this whole experience.
Q. Josh and Mike, could you guys talk a little bit about the struggles you guys had getting the runners home when they were in scoring position both last night and tonight? Do you kind of feel like maybe after what happened last night you guys might have been pressing a little bit tonight when you got into that situation?
JOSH ADAMS: Not at all, we stuck with our approach all night pretty much. But that's the game of baseball. Some days you can come out on top; other days you look like a fool.
But all you can really do is say what if. But it doesn't matter anymore. Just gotta get back at it. Gotta get back at it next year.
MIKE ZUNINO: Josh hit it on the head there. You've just got to stick with your approach. Made some great quality pitches. You've got to tip your cap sometimes. I'm sure some people wish they had some pitches back, but you stick to your approach and just let the rest fall in place. And we didn't execute extremely well with runners in scoring position, but that's part of the game.
Q. Mike, two-parter. First of all, you broke out of your shell the last game or so. Just talk about your night tonight going three for three. And then also what are your emotions after tonight?
MIKE ZUNINO: I mean, just in the game with the season on the line, I'm just trying to do everything I can so I can play more games with my boys.
But it's just about all you can do. And just empty feeling. I mean, you stick with these guys a whole year, two, three years sometimes, and you just grow close. And when you can't achieve that goal you just go after it, you just feel empty.
Q. Kevin, the way last night's game played out, do you sense now that maybe it knocked a little more wind out of your kids than you thought at the time?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: No. Let's face it, last night was a tough loss for us. It was. I mean, but it's our job as coaches to get ready to play. I think they're ready to play today. And sometimes it just doesn't work out the way you want to. The final score doesn't indicate the preparation that you put into it. And the mindset of your players.
But I felt very good about our team before the game. And you're facing an All-American in Roth. He has something to do with it. It's not like -- we had base runners. We had opportunities. We put ourselves in good positions. We just quite couldn't get over the hump.
And that was the difference. That was ultimately the difference in the series.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports