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June 28, 2011

Peter Mooney

Michael Roth

Ray Tanner

Christian Walker

Scott Wingo


South Carolina – 5
Florida - 2

THE MODERATOR: Give us an overview. Let's go.
COACH TANNER: It's difficult to put into words what we've experienced in the last few days and having been at Rosenblatt last year and having the good fortune of closing that out. And getting an opportunity to come to TD Ameritrade this year was very special. Of course you get here, you want to win a game or two.
And we've really played some great baseball while we were here, and it's hard for me to understand it all right now. I'll have to let it sink in a little bit.
But I want to take a moment to recognize Coach O'Sullivan and the Florida Gators. What a great team, what a tremendous team, classy organization.
They play the game the right way. You never like to lose games, but you like to play people like the Gators and Coach O'Sullivan because you get after it and you play the game the right way.
And you can rest assured he'll be back to Omaha time and time again. These guys up here and our players, they've made it happen between the lines. They made plays. They made pitches. They got big hits. They always felt they had a chance to win. They believed. I thought they did a tremendous job of keeping baseball in perspective. We never thought that we were an awesome team; we just thought we were good enough to win at times.
When the opportunity would present itself, we could try to find a way late in the game to win some games. And not often we go double-digit hits or double digit runs, but these guys believed they could win, and they got in the position to do that a lot.

Q. While you were sitting in the postgame press conference last year you were asked about a repeat at that point. Was there a point in this season that you thought that would be a possibility?
COACH TANNER: No. And I don't mean that as to the fact that I didn't think this team could win. The statistics, the percentages of doing that are stacked against you. The only thing I kept holding on to was let's have a good team. Let's have a good season. Let's get to the postseason. Let's get a chance to go a regional.
And then you try to do well when you get there. Whether you're playing at home or on the road, you try to get into position, and then maybe good things happen at the right time and you play your best baseball. And we were able to win a Regional and Super Regional against a great UConn team to get back to the new stadium here. It's just fantastic.
I never think about, well, we're good enough to go win the whole thing. Let's just try to win the next game. And I've never told these guys our goals are to do this and do that and we've got to win this championship.
I don't talk in those terms. I talk about what we gotta do today. And that's enough. I don't believe in putting undue pressure on players. The game's hard enough as it is. And you respect it and do it the right way, and you hope at the end of the day it was a good one.

Q. For the players, you won the last at Rosenblatt, you win the first at TD Ameritrade. How special is that?
SCOTT WINGO: Beginning of the year I said we finished at the old one and let's try to open the new one up. Coach didn't think we might -- might not get it, but I'm the type of guy that I had a feeling we were going to do it. And I kept thinking of the Oregon State team the whole year.
I had a feeling we would get back and win this thing, and we did.
MICHAEL ROTH: History happens here and it's pretty special to be part of history.
CHRISTIAN WALKER: I couldn't have picked a better group of guys. Everything about it was perfect, and I believe we can do it next year.
PETER MOONEY: I wasn't here to close out Rosenblatt, but I was like, hey, a new stadium, let's break it in. And we did.
I'm speechless, by the way.

Q. Scott, Coach Tanner keeps saying over and over again that you guys are not an awesome team, but now that you're two-time national champions, is it time to admit it's a pretty awesome team?
SCOTT WINGO: I'd say we're pretty awesome, yeah. But I think our talent might not be a bunch of first-rounders, but I think I'd play with these guys more than any other team.
We don't give you one yard. We just go out there and try to -- John Taylor, all those guys like that, Roth, I mean, they just make pitches. And we got guys that play good defense, and we're tough to beat, so...

Q. Coach, every game it's a close game. It seems like you were able to capitalize on the mistakes, the other team would blink first. What does it say about your team that in the 11th inning, 13th inning it's the other team making errors and not you and all this, the pressure plays to make?
COACH TANNER: It can happen. It can happen to us as well, but we've been in a lot of these games throughout the season and last season. We were in a lot of tough games, and we understand that you play nine innings and you don't win a game in the fifth or sixth. You have to play them all.
And if you can pitch well down the stretch and play good defense, you give yourself an opportunity. Whether you're trailing, you're up by two, and I think these guys really understood that, that, you know, somebody may hit one at us, we might be able to make a play and come up with a big hit. I think it's perspective more than anything else.
We've been there so many times in close games down the stretch with Matt Price and John Taylor and Harper earlier in the year.
And we had Webb down in the stretch here from the left side. We just kept putting guys in there to try to give us a chance to win and match up. And we capitalized on some situations that -- you have to be a little lucky, too. We got out of a couple of pickles last night that, yeah, you can do the right things on the mound. You can induce a ground ball. You can have your guys in the right place, but they've got to make plays, too.
So you make plays. You get a little luck shining on you and it works out for the best. And that's what happened for us. These guys are play-makers, they've done a good job between the lines and we had some good fortune.

Q. Coach, talk about rebuilding your entire starting rotation. Obviously particularly this year you didn't know how much of a difference aluminum bats might make, but obviously it made a difference. Talk about having to rebuild your starting rotation particularly this year.
COACH TANNER: Going back to fall practice, appreciate having guys like Wingo around and Morales in the infield, and then it didn't take Mooney long to settle in, and Christian back at first base and Jackie in the outfield and Marzilli and Matthews and Jake Williams. There's a good group of core players, but what we were missing was a rotation.
I wasn't sure it was to be the right thing to have Michael out front. We felt like that because we had lost Cooper, we lost Dyson, we knew what he was all about as far as his competitive mode that he would be in. But he had done a tremendous job for us in a situation of lefty, had the big starts at the end of the year, and we just felt that it was going to be the right thing with his presence.
But, you know, with an ERA around 1 and 14 wins on the season, you know, that's a tremendous run.
I would have been happy even winning eight or nine games; now he's won 14. He started it for us. And we had to get to Koumas and Holmes. We started with Webb in the rotation. We started with Westmoreland and Steven Neff. So it evolved a little bit.
From a coaching standpoint, even though you had a good group of core players, you had to pitch. We knew we had Price at the back end and some setup guys, but our big question was whether we were going to be able to get enough guys up front to support the core group of returners.
And they did a good job for us. And the bullpen, the bullpen excelled like we thought they were capable of doing. And it all came together. These guys were super in the middle.
You know, Christian had a big year for us. And Roth did his job time and again against top-flight players, first-rounders, and he would battle his rear off and give us a chance to win.

Q. Peter, double and the score of the first run and then a homer later in the game. Ten years from now at the reunion how do you think you'll look back at this game?
PETER MOONEY: Look back at it as a national championship; that's all there is to it. Like I said, all these guys have been here before and done it. And words can't describe how I feel. That's it. That's all she wrote.

Q. Michael, I was curious about the employment futures for you and also your father as well. You know, obviously you have some decisions to make regarding Cleveland. And I understand your dad, you know, came here to watch you and left his job as well.
MICHAEL ROTH: Well, I think he'll be okay. I think he'll be okay. But as far as the draft goes, I'm not sure. I'm going to Spain Friday. So I'll talk to him when I get back, or my mom will talk to them. She negotiates contracts for a living, so I'll leave it up to her.
No, I'm studying abroad in Alicante, Spanish and windsurfing. I'm not picking up a ball.

Q. Ray said a minute ago it was going to take him a while to digest what had happened here. Can you guys just describe the run of those five games and just sort of the dizzying effect, especially those extra-inning games and the walk-off?
SCOTT WINGO: Texas A&M game three weeks ago. But to go back to back is unbelievable. And to just do it with these kind of guys and our coaches, it's awesome to go out on top.
MICHAEL ROTH: This year it feels a lot different because we've had so many off days. And, you know, it's kind of simple when you look at it; you just have to win five games.
But it's tough at the same time. We had to have a lot of things go for us. We played some great baseball, but you have to have a little luck in there. And we're just glad we played a nine-inning game today.
CHRISTIAN WALKER: There's no doubt in my mind that we had the ability to do it. We worked hard enough. It was just getting to the grind and just doing it. And everything fell into line, and we couldn't ask for anything better.
PETER MOONEY: I thought it went by kind of fast. We did it in the shortest amount of time possible. We won every game, and that's what we came out to do. And as long as those games like were 13 innings, 11 innings, another 11-inning game, but that's what you gotta do to win, and that's what we did.

Q. Coach, can you talk about Scott Wingo, his progression from his freshman year, what you saw out of him to the College World Series Most Outstanding Player?
COACH TANNER: Quite honestly, when we recruited Scott, we thought he was a good player. And we knew that offensively it might take a couple of years for him to get to where we wanted him to be. There was no question whether he was going to bring the type of energy to our program, the ability to play defense. That was apparent from day one.
He had some struggles offensively, but he never faltered defensively or never failed to show up and play and bring energy to the field. I thought he was a tremendous influence on the program for the last four years, and then he saved his best year for last offensively.
He's been a key ingredient to the success we've had between the lines. He loves to play. He has a good time doing it. He works so hard at practice. You know, I look out sometimes at practice and think maybe he's doing a little bit too much.
But part of it is he's having fun. And sometimes he takes more ground balls than he should. But he's having fun doing it. And that's the kind of guys you want, that they're going to play hard. They're going to love what they're doing.
And then when things don't go well, they're able to put it away. Short memories, get back on the horse a little bit and go play. We faced a lot of outstanding pitchers in our league, and they will stuff you.
And we got stuffed a little bit tonight as well. And you just bounce back. I thought his RBI, the first run tonight, was a huge at-bat. Changeup that he missed earlier, he was able to put it into play. Hit that ball hard.
Had it not been right at Tucker we might have got a couple more. Scott Wingo is the epitome of what our program is all about, and I know I'm going to miss him. I told him a few minutes ago he's really going to miss me come next fall.
But he might not miss some of the things but he's been great, he's been great for four years.

Q. Ray, you've had a bunch of these guys, talk about a team chemistry, team attitude all year. You lose some of these guys and some of the ones who are on the table, how do you think you can replace that locker room chemistry next year?
COACH TANNER: Well, we're going to have some guys back and hopefully Michael will be back as well. Christian, Marzilli, we've got a lot of guys back, we have to replace some guys in the infield. We'll keep our fingers crossed that Mooney might stay as well.
When you talk about chemistry and makeup, that's on the players. And they determine that. And it's ownership. Michael and I talked a lot during the season about things outside of the lines and what may be going on and how certain players are on certain days.
And Brady Thomas was certainly involved in that. But you just gotta depend on your captains, guys like Wingo and Roth, to set the mood of your team. And if there's enough ownership, they answer to those guys. They don't have to answer to me. And that's the way great teams are built, I believe, is from your older guys and your leadership.
If you've got to have a coach directing traffic all the time, then there's going to be -- it's going to be difficult. And I give those guys all the credit in the world. They made it what it was. Win, lose or draw, these guys approached it the right way, and I appreciated that. And they deserve the credit for it.

Q. Ray, this team has been so loose the entire year. Did you sense anything different in the last few days with these guys? And just talk about how kind of their zaniness has just helped you guys?
COACH TANNER: No, I didn't sense anything different. They have fun; that's who they are. And I think it's great. I think Michael made the comment a few days ago that because of my intensity and seriousness they had to offset it. But it works. I mean, this is a hard game. It really is.
There can be some momentum at times, but you lose it on one pitch or one play or one hit. And if you can keep the game in perspective and have a short memory when things aren't going well, you've got a better chance to be successful.
They've had a great way of doing that. I think Michael made a comment in the UVA game, when Hultzen was pitching we didn't have a chance and somebody fouled one off and he said, hey, let's give it up for a foul ball.
I mean, what are you going to do? I mean, you have to have a good time. I'm probably a little bit too serious than I need to be sometimes. I'm an old-school coach.
But these guys play the right way and they have fun. So it's worked for them.

Q. Coach, can you put in perspective this incredible winning streak you're on right now? And I'm just curious, did you feel like you were coming down with an ulcer after some of the things you've gone through in this tournament with the bases loaded, one of your players has a broken wrist, and on and on?
COACH TANNER: It's really hard to understand. I mean, so many things happened in the games that we've played, the extra-inning affairs, the bases loaded, the double plays.
You know, you try to accept it, and you live with the outcomes, and it seemed like every single time it went our way. Whether it was a ground ball or they smacked a line drive in the Virginia game and Wingo flips it to Mooney, we get out of that inning after Price had the big strikeout. It just seemed like, you know, you set things up to happen and you hope players can do it. But still there's got to be some luck involved.
And you mentioned Christian with his hamate fracture I'm still surprised that he was still able to play. I've been around a lot of hamate injuries. It's six weeks and you can do your very best and it's hard to get out there. It's inspiration. You get a guy that says I'm going to be in there.
Today he didn't have infield, didn't have any batting practice. He got ready right before the game and suited up, and that's a big deal. We had some good fortune. And not to take anything away from what these guys did between the lines, they were special.
But you have to have some good fortune in this game as well.

Q. Coach, can you even imagine anyone doing -- it's such a team effort. But Roth and Price, what they've done over the last two years, can you imagine two guys doing that in the College World Series?
COACH TANNER: No, it's hard to understand what Michael did for us last year out of the bullpen. I think he had 36, 37 appearances and the two big starts out here last year.
And sometimes what he did got lost, because Price was at the end of the game. But he got a lot of big outs for us along the way in order for us to win.
And then Price, I can't imagine another pitcher in college baseball or maybe professional baseball, from that point, being in as many tough situations throughout the course of two seasons that we put Matt Price into. I mean, very rarely did he get an opportunity to go have a little work. He was in there when the chips are down.
And it's been phenomenal, the success that those guys have enjoyed. Michael was starting out in the bullpen and then becoming a starter. It's just like they've been almost unblemished.
It's hard for me -- ask me to bring up some days where they didn't do very well, I'd have to think long and hard because it seems like every time the chips have been down, they've been able to perform.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.

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