Baseball Regional Press Conference Comments
May 24, 2001
NCAA 2001 NCAA Division I Baseball ChampionshipFirst Round Regional * Los Angeles, Calif.May 25-27
Comments from participating players and coaches on Thursday, May 24
USC Head Coach Mike Gillespie
'There's outstanding pitching in this region. It is a pitching-rich, pitching-deep regional.'
(Preparation for Fresno State)
'Certainly among the three teams, (Fresno State) is, at this point in time, still the most mysterious team to us. We've played Pepperdine and we've spent a lot of time trying to find out as much as we can about Oral Roberts, so I'm afraid we're still doing our homework on Fresno State. Certainly we're familiar with (Bob Bennett) and with (Mike Rupcich) and the program that they run. When you play a Fresno State team you're always going to play a team that's well run, well schooled and well prepared. So we're still doing some work.'
(Regarding Oral Roberts being named the No. 4 seed)
'I think that's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of in college baseball. We know that this team is certainly not a No. 4 seed. They're substantially beyond a four-seed. We know a little bit about how that works... if you're conference is not highly regarded... it's a battle that Pepperdine faces all the time. I'm confident that nobody in this tournament thinks that they're deserving of that No. 4 seed... especially with that type of No. 1 pitcher on the staff.'
(What does it take to make it out of this region)
'It has certainly been our experience that when you get to this point somebody always gets hot, and hot includes playing well not just having a tournament where one player goes 8-for-12. The game has to be played well with few errors, few walks, few balks, and few wild pitches. You're not giving people four outs an inning and you're getting hits in play... you're moving your runners. You really do have to play mistake-free baseball.'
(Starting Rik Currier on Friday)
'Rick Currier really has been around the block. There's more than one reason for starting with him but one of the main reasons is that out of our three starters, he is the one capable of coming back a second time in the tournament. We did this at Fullerton last season and we were just lucky that we didn't have to play a second game. That's our plan once again.'
(Regarding Michael Rogers and Oral Roberts)
'He's outstanding. This is not just hype... this guy is really good. We feel we need to throw a shutout and win 1-0. He's upper 80s, he touches 90s and above, sliders, change-ups, pitch-in, pitch-out, he's Cy Young. It's going to be a battle.
'Quite frankly it has been a very frustrating year for us because it certainly is our approach to play the short game when it's appropriate to do that. If we do get a guy on against this team, we've got to move him. We don't have the kind of club that plays big-inning baseball, so executing the short game and moving runners is paramount.'
USC Senior Pitcher Rik Currier
'I'm confident that the pitching will be there. It's up to the team to get some clutch hitting so we can win the game. I'm not saying that I'm going to go out there and have my A-game, but I'd sure like to and I'm planning on it. We just have to battle.
'It will be a tight game but I like the 1-0 games. It pushes me to do my best and I like that type of pressure.
'I really don't think that starting on Friday is a big deal. I've pitched the opener of three regionals in my career.
'(Pitching at home in the regional) is something I'm going to look back on and love.'
(On Oral Roberts)
'Any team that puts up 48 wins in a season is pretty legit. We definitely can't take them lightly.
Oral Roberts Head Coach Sunny Golloway
(Regarding being possibly overlooked in the regional and the benefits of being one)
'I don't know if we want to be an overlooked team. At this point, you have to look at it as a blessing to be playing. Even though it's our fourth straight regional and we've had some success in the past, there are so many teams staying home right now that we're fortunate. We get to play tomorrow and that's a blessing.'
(Reaction regarding pitching when he learned of bracket)
'Any time you know you're in a tournament with USC and you're a No. 4 against a No. 1, you're thinking of Mark Prior. The last time I competed against USC, (former Trojan All-American) Geoff Jenkins hit a bomb over the centerfield wall (in 1995) at the College World Series. That's when we were defending national champs at Oklahoma and I was an assistant there. We lost to Florida State, J.D. Drew hit a two-run shot to beat us in the ninth and then USC beat us pretty good in the second round. They've had such great tradition in the past and me having the opportunity to compete against them in the past, those are the things that came to mind.
(Regarding the high quality pitching in the regional)
'No, there is not (going to be a lot of blowouts). A lot of people who have an opportunity to see both guys (USC's Mark Prior and Oral Roberts' Michael Rogers) feel Prior might very well be the No. 1. People feel he might be the best college pitcher out there, maybe in a long time. But this year, our guy might be the second best, in some pretty respectable minds. It's a compliment to Michael and it's a treat for the fans.'
(On pitcher Michael Rogers)
'He's very strong right now. He's not a crafty guy. He's more of a power type, but not just the blow-you-over-type with a fastball. Mike is a guy who can hit his spots, has good location and has a tight breaking ball that makes it tough for opponents. The best thing about him and the thing I hope everyone will be saying after he performs and gets an opportunity to pitch is that he's a true competitor. You know as well as I do, even if you have great stuff like Prior or (USC's) Rik Currier or Michael or Pepperdine's ace, they've got to be true competitors. If they really know how to compete, they're tough to defeat.'
(On not being a typical No. 4 seed)
'We'll, we've heard it so much. But I have to stay with the tone that we're fortunate to be here. There are a lot of good teams at home right now that aren't playing. Based on a 48-11 record, if you check the polls, every team ranked is either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed with the exception of No. 25 Oral Roberts University. Those things speak for themselves and we just try to take care of business on the field.'
Oral Roberts Junior Pitcher Michael Rogers
(On facing the quality pitching offered in this regional)
'Any time you go out and pitch, you want to pitch against the best and prove yourself. We've pitched against some quality arms this year so it's not going to change the way we pitch no matter who we face. We'll go out and pitch our game whether we're facing a No. 1 or a No. 5. We're not facing a pitcher, we're facing the hitters.'
'Our motto is to keep people from scoring and throw shutouts every time. The better pitching there is, better pitching shuts down better hitting. With the better arms, you expect lower scoring games, but this is college baseball, with aluminum bats, and anything can happen.'
(Regarding being possibly overlooked in the regional)
'Since we're a No. 4, it doesn't matter to us whether people overlook us or play hard against us. We need to execute what we need to do. If people take us lightly and we come out and play hard ... it's nothing we can change ...it's up to them.'
(On facing teams like Arizona State and Oklahoma and whether that has prepared them for this regional)
'I think so. The Arizona State game was a big game for us and gets you in a different kind of ballgame. We're used to playing a little more of small ball than Arizona State. They're more into hitting home runs and driving runs in, so playing bigger schools does help you out in the long run.'
Pepperdine Head Coach Frank Sanchez
(How would you describe your team)
'The word `team' perfectly defines our ball club. We've pitched well and played pretty good defense. We're offensive at times and when we win it's usually a tremendous team effort.
'I think we're confident... I think we believe in ourselves. We were here two years ago and it was a very good experience for us - not a great one - a great one would have been if we won the whole thing, but we played well. We're back, a lot of those players are back, and we have something to build upon and hopefully improve on this year.
(Regarding the team's preparation)'We'll talk about the game just like we do every other game, as Fresno State does I'm sure.'
Fresno State Head Coach Bob Bennett
(Regarding the quality pitching in the regional)
'It's good for all four teams. Oral Roberts has a guy with a phenomenal record and you have the two USC guys. You've got our two top guys, but our top four have been good all year. And there's Pepperdine's guy, too ... It will be our type of regional if our pitchers pitch like they can.'
(Regarding the status of Brandon Gemoll [brother of former Trojan Justin Gemoll] and his injured wrist)
'He hit today and he looks fine. It's painful, but the doctors have told him playing will not make any difference.'
'The regional will come down to (execution) and to the pitchers. If any one of the pitchers pitches the way he can, it will be a tough game for the other team. And if two guys pitch like they can, it's going to come down to one play.'