Arizona State Opens NCAA Regional Against East Carolina Friday
June 2, 2005
NCAA Tempe Regional Notes And Quotes
Notes and quotes on all four teams playing in the Tempe Regional this weekend at Packard Stadium.
June 2, 2005
Projected Starting Pitchers for Friday:#1 Coastal Carolina - Ricky Shefka, Jr., RHP, 11-2, 2.51 ERAvs. #4 UNLV - Matt Luca, Jr., RHP, 5-6, 4.45 ERA
#2 Arizona State - Jason Urquidez, Sr., RHP (8-4, 4.21 ERA)#3 East Carolina - T.J. Hose, Fr., RHP (7-3, 3.96 ERA)
Arizona State senior RHP Jason UrquidezOn hosting the regional at ASU:'I was surprised to hear that we were even hosting. I thought that we were headed somewhere else, so its good for us. We've played the whole season to get to this point and now we are sitting pretty, playing at our own place. This is the time that we can hopefully get on a roll.
On ASU receiving a two-seed in the tournament:'Look at the schedule we've played. We have played a hard schedule and a lot of hard teams. To be honest, I didn't know who Coastal Carolina was, but I just pay attention to our team and what we have to get done. I'm just trying to stay on point.'
On distractions with the upcoming draft and his decision to stay for his senior year:'I thought about it for a week, week and a half. I just had a bitter taste in my mouth after the loss to Cal St. Fullerton. But I just have that drive to win a national championship. I want to start my pro career, but this is a once in a lifetime thing.
'Coach has kept us pretty level-headed and we are trying not to think about anything else other than getting our stuff done. We're trying to forget about the other teams and the draft and just get our intensity going.'
On the possibility of meeting Arizona in the Super Regional:'That would be great. They beat us up a little bit this year and it would be great to get a chance to meet them in the playoffs and sending them packing back home.'
Arizona State junior 3B/OF Travis BuckOn being a number two seed in your own park:'Coming in to last weekend, we knew we had a 50-50 chance of hosting. As long as we are hosting, we definitely have a shot at advancing. We have no problem with a two-seed, we are in the tournament. We are in our park and we're comfortable with it.
'This is the best team I've been on in three years. Talent-wise, we are right up there with the last two years. How together and close this team is, that is what sets it apart from the other teams I've been on. 34 wins with the number one schedule in the country is pretty good. It's only going to help us to prepare for regionals and once we get past that hopefully. I'm not complaining about our record. We are in the regionals, which is where we wanted to be, and we will take it from there.'
On being in lockdown at the team hotel during the regional:'We don't want to take any chances. We have worked too hard and come too far to let something little stand in our way, like a distraction, and affect the team in a bad way. A lot of guys are complaining about being in the hotel, but I think it is a good thing to get away from everybody else and stay together as a team. Its important for us to go out there as one team and have nothing else to worry about.'
Arizona State Head Coach Pat Murphy:On hosting the regional:'I'm excited for our players. They have battled through a lot and here they are. They are at home and they get the hometown fans. We at times haven't played like a great club, but we are a great club. We have more quality wins than any team in the country and this is the time to put it together. Maybe our expectations are too high, but that's the nature of this program. We expect to win every year.
'I think we deserved it. If you followed college baseball all year, nobody had the same number of quality of wins that we had. That is what got us here. They are all playoff caliber teams and we'll do what we have to out there.'
On the opponents in the regional:'East Carolina was in the Super Regional last year and they returned a lot of those players, so they have some experience with the situation. They also played us down here for three games last year so they are not going to be intimidated by ASU. Coastal has won 45 games a year a bunch of times and been in regionals every year, UNLV played here in the regional two years ago so a lot of those kids have been there. They have good talent. I don't look as anybody seeded as anything. I don't see us as below Coastal or above UNLV. There's an opportunity to go out there everyday, play good, and win. Hopefully, we can move on.'
On tomorrow's starter senior RHP Jason Urquidez:'I believe that this kid is going to pitch in the pros for a long time. A number one starter in the big leagues? No, but I still think he is going to pitch a long time in the pros. To put up the number one schedule for two years in a row and to be a 20-game winner (as the Friday night starter) is amazing. We didn't even go to the Super Regionals last year and he still put up 12. That's pretty good. He has pitched against everyone's best pitcher and is an underrated kid. If you don't have that dominant one guy, he is the next best thing. He believes he is a winner in every sense of the word. He took the long road to get here and I think they realize now that, if you are reading the numbers, this kid is a player. He is a little kid, an underdog, a fighter, and I like him. I think this will wake some scouts up.'
On the difficult schedule and the team's struggles offensively:'It's been tough with our struggles and we don't have the dominant pitching or tremendous offensive, yet. I like this club so much. I don't know if I've just grown up and I like myself more, but I think that there is more in this club that they haven't showed yet. They have been resilient and if you follow the teams that they've played and who they have beaten, they always pull something out. I like the feeling I get from them. You could say we are very young, but we have enough older guys. Larish and Buck, it's time for them to step up and get the offense going.
'Because we have played such a grueling schedule, we've never gotten on a role. We never had 9 or 12 games that where we could just roll and put up numbers. We only play every weekend and we didn't play those teams that are suspect. We haven't had that roll that we've had on other years, but I hope we are on it. I hate to say it, but this is our last chance to find it.
'We've always had that friendly schedule that lets us find our roll and we just didn't have it this year. Even last year, we didn't start too good, but we had a stretch where everything was going our way. We haven't had it yet so hopefully its forthcoming. They are a good team that has proven that they can beat anybody so lets do it.'Coastal Carolina Quotes:
Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore:On the weather in Arizona:'It's not that much different. We just haven't had as hot a spring as we're used to. Today, this is normal May or June weather for us. I don't think it's that big of a deal.'
On playing in a regional:'It's the same round ball and bat that we played with for 60-some games. The players are a little better day in day out as a whole, but it's not different for Arizona State when they're playing a big series in their conference and us playing in our league and same for the other schools. It's the same game, it's just who plays the best and what are the best matchups. Coming from where we come from we're the underdog in this whole thing and we understand that. We'll have a chance to win if we play as good as we can.'
On fans not knowing a lot about Coastal Carolina:'If you're a true baseball fan you'll know about us, but the general fan doesn't even know where our school is at. This is all an evolution for our program one step at a time and just try to keep getting better.'
On playing UNLV:'Everybody that got here got here for a reason. They do some good things. UNLV is going to hit and pitch. It's just a fight for survival at this point in time.'
On having different players step up:'If you look around, every team is going to have people step up and it won't necessarily be your best guy. I think that happens to every team. You've got to hope that your core guys are going to play well, but you've got to hope that somebody else beyond that steps up.'
On winning the first game:'Winning this first game is paramount. No doubt about it. I don't know if many teams have come back after losing the first one. The first one is by far the most important.'
Coastal Carolina third baseman Mike Costanzo:On winning the first game:'This first game is huge. If you don't win this first game you obviously go to the losers bracket, but then you have to play doubleheaders and you don't have the luxury of losing.'
On UNLV:'I know they can hit really well and their pitching is pretty good. It's going to be tough. I think they are the best four seed in the whole bracket.'
On East Carolina:'We played them earlier in the season, but I think they're a totally different team.'
On playing at Arizona State:'If we get the chance to play Arizona State it would be like a home game for them. We've just got to keep it in the back of our mind that we're the one seed. Our confidence has been up all year and we'd like to continue with it. Coming in here it's tough to win, especially after seeing all the names on the board.'
On the weather in Arizona:'It feels worse in Myrtle Beach because it's so muggy and humid. It's not bad at all. Our team is adapting to it well. We're just getting used to this time change.'
On playing in the regional:'This is our year. I don't know who's going to be back next year. You can't look at next year when you have a year like this right in front of you.'East Carolina Quotes
East Carolina Head Coach Randy Mazey:
On preparing for the regional:'We haven't had a whole lot of time to prepare. We didn't know we were in until a couple days ago. Fortunately, this is our seventh straight regional. We kind of know the process and none of this is foreign to us. I think its going to help us.'
On playing Arizona State on their home field:'I think we'll be fine. We played out here three games last year. Even though they beat us in all three games, I think that this past weekend really turned our season around for us. We competed well and we played with them every game. It was a good barometer at that time for where our program was in the nation. I left here thinking that we were a Top 20 program in the nation and we deserved all the accolades that we are getting. I really think that those three games last year will really help us when the game starts tomorrow. '
On the strength of the regional:'They are very good. This is as even a regional as I think there is. Any of the four teams are capable of winning. UNLV is probably the best four seed out there and they are very capable. We know what Coastal can do as well, they beat us pretty good earlier in the season. They really play hard. I think its going to be a great tournament and anyone can win it.
East Carolina senior OF Brian Cavanaugh:
On playing ASU at home:'They have a tough crowd. This is the toughest crowd we ever played against when we came in here last year. They had a lot of hooting and hollering. They have a good crowd. But we are going to focus on Game 1. Game 1 is huge because if you lose Game 1, it's a lot harder road (to win the regional). We are focused on Arizona State right now. Game 1 is it and we have to get past that before we start to think about anything else.
On the other teams in the regional:'Both Coastal and ASU are very good teams. UNLV has a very good ball club as well. They have won back-to-back conference titles and I don't know it they did last year, but they must have had a pretty good year to be here. It's anybody's chance to win so we just have to play our game. '
On what it takes to win the regional:'You have to play the team in front of you and stick together. Everyone has got to contribute and play together. A few players have got to get hot and we need that to happen. You always see, come tournament team, the teams that advance are the teams that have a couple players catch fire. I think we have a real good shot at winning this thing.'
UNLV Head Coach Buddy Gouldsmith:
On scouting Coastal Carolina:You reach out and try and touch everyone you know ofr some information. I would say that right now Coach Gilmore is well liked and has struck a lot of deals across the East Coast to find out what everybody knows. There is not a lot of people willing to give up a whole lot. Unlike most, I have followed their success over the past four years as an avid fan of college baseball and I had a chance to talk to their coaches about possible games out west (at UNLV). Having spent some time in New Orleans playing Tulane, I've worked with some guys from the Carolinas. I'm probably a little bit more familiar with them than some people from out west would be. Looking at them, obviously the thing that jumps out at me is their steals. They have a guy in the middle of their order that can hit as well as anyone in the country. When you look at their lineup and their statistics, the big guy who hits for them and closes for them cannot beat you alone. If you can keep the other guys off base, you are going to have a chance. They try and do everything they can to put pressure on the defense with their speed and we're going to have to respond to it well.
On the matchup against Coastal Carolina:'From a matchup standpoint, we're probably bigger physically than they are. But that's the style of play we prefer. They try and recruit the opposite. But that fits in their system and that's their system. Playing on the west coast, we are prepared for this type of game where we need to hold on runners, because we have played in that type of game. We'll be prepared for that and ready for them. How we handle it is a different story, but we'll be prepared.We have a guy who is pitching as well as he has all year and he is certainly capable mentally and physically of being able to hold them in check. Matt (Luca) is a 6'5' power right hander. He is going to pitch 88-92 with a curve ball and a changeup. If you look at his numbers, its going to show that he has walked a fair amount of guys, but in his last three or four outings he has stopped doing that and put balls in play. If you look at Coastal Carolina's numbers, they are a team that doesn't swing at bad pitches. They have a guy who has 50 strikeouts, but he has that many walks too. They are going to have a good eye at the plate and we're going to have to throw it over down in the zone. Our philosophy doesn't change, its simple. He had some really good outings where he pitched well and took the loss and we only lost the game by one or two runs. These were games against Texas, Cal St. Fullerton, and Florida Atlantic, which is also a regional club. Cal Berkeley, which should have been a regional team, and Arizona as well. If Coastal is as fast as Arizona, its no wonder they've had the success they have. We'll be prepared for that kind of team.
On the attitude of his team:We are a pretty loose group, but we show up at the park ready to play. They'll have their fun too and its not going to be an uptight group. It will be a group that , either at the expense of their number four seed or because of the adversity they've faced all year, they will come out and play like they have nothing to lose. I don't think that being tight will be a problem for us.
On recovering from a 3-14 start to the season:It was extremely frustrating, but 11 of those games were lost by one run against very good teams. They took confidence from the fact that they were playing a great schedule. We got beat by Cal pretty good and then won the next two days, taking the series on the road. The next week, we split with Arizona, who was seventh in the country at the time. We got into conference play and we've always been able to compete well. That was really the turning point for us. They believed that they could win, but they had to prove it and that's what they did. I think that we are playing our best baseball at the right time of year. We could come out and not play well tomorrow, but it won't be because we are tight or weren't well prepared. Those things won't be a factor, we know what to expect in terms of being prepared. We are familiar with the situation and our opponents having been out here (to Tempe) the year before. We feel we know ASU pretty well and ECU's coach is also a good friend of mine. We also have some good information on Coastal Carolina. The bottom line is that anybody across the country can go out and play their game and that's all we can do. If we limit our walks and make defensive plays, we'll be in good shape to win.
UNLV senior INF Zeke Parraz
On what type of a team UNLV has:'I have to point to our offense first. Obviously, we play in an offensive conference and everyone in the conference is offensive-minded first of all. But I have to give credit to our pitching. If you look at the last month, it has done very well.'In the Mountain Western tournament, we did especially well. Three, four or five runs was the most we gave up. Coach Bud is more of a three-run homer, two-run double type of guy, forget about the bunting. We will do the little things when it is necessary. If you look at our numbers, there is more to us than just free swinging. But we have won games when we had to playing small ball. Everybody likes to swing the bat, but right now all that matters is to win ballgames.
On Coastal Carolina:'They are scrappy and patient. They don't make a lot of mistakes and they can run. We could win doing small things and they could get the long balls. We'll take whatever we can get out there and see what happens. What is important is to come away with the win.
We are really excited with the draw we got. They are a number one seed for some reason, but I think out of all the sixteen, ten of them would say that Coastal Carolina is a team that we would like to play because they are not the perennial powerhouse.'
UNLV junior RHP Matt Luca
On being named Friday's starter:'I've been waiting three years to start in a regional. Last year, I was limited because of short rest, so it is really exciting for me to get the start.
On Coastal Carolina:'Basically, they can run. They have 101 steals in 130 attempts. They have seven plus runners, two of which are really exceptional. We're definitely going to have to hold the baseball and work some different looks. We will have to get the ball to the plate in a decent amount of time when they get on.
On the season:'It's been a rocky season for me. I started off well, not giving up many runs, but our bats were cold at the beginning of the season. They started to heat up a little bit. At mid season I was not at the top of my game, but right now I feel I am throwing the best I have all year and the team is playing the best they have all year so it goes well with each other.
On the type of team UNLV has:'We are a power team. We have some guys that can hit for power, some are gap-to-gap guys that just ring up doubles left and right. We like to hit for power, we like to run, we have a combination of things and variety in our lineup. We are extremely excited with the draw. We match up well with Coastal as well as the rest of the teams in the tournament and we have a good chance to win this thing.
--Courtesy of Arizona State