NCAA Baseball Regional Thursday Press Conference Quotes
May 30, 2002
Stanford, Calif. - Following are quotes taken from the NCAA Baseball Regional Thursday Press Conferences from Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, San Jose State and Stanford.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Head Coach George Horton
'We're tickled to just be playing. We struggled at the end of the year and came in fourth in our conference, certainly became a bubble team at that point. I'm not sure this would be our first choice of Regional. It's going to be a very difficult to get several members of the Big West and the Pac-10 to Omaha no matter how well those conferences play. That's unfortunate. This seems to be a very difficult road to Omaha, but the road to Omaha has never been a very easy one for Cal State Fullerton. Hopefully, our team is up for the challenge.'
(on how he plans to use his pitching staff)
'That's going to be a difficult task for all the teams. Sometimes in these four-team Regionals, you could pitch backwards and throw one of your guys that hadn't been used very much early. All of are in the same boat at this Regional. There is no sandbagging with the teams here unless you decide to gamble and hope to get through the first game and then try to win four games in the losers bracket. We're going with Wes (Littleton) versus Stanford on Friday. He's been our best, our Friday guy, and I understand Stanford is going with (Jeremy) Guthrie. We could be one of the toughest No. 4 seeds that Stanford has had to play. I hope they think that way.'
(on Stanford's scheduled Friday starter Jeremy Guthrie)
We're very familiar with Jeremy. He's a tough one for any program to crack. You just have to hope that he's not quite at his best and your team is on it. He doesn't make many mistakes, and we just hope that we're on the mistakes when he does make them. Maybe we can get a little lucky, get a couple of scrap hits and put something together. But to think that you're going to sit back and crush Jeremy Guthrie is unrealistic.'
(on the tough competition in the Regional at Stanford)
'This is the only Regional in the country with four Top 25 teams. The next closest one has two. Three of these teams were in Omaha as recently as 2000. The tradition of Stanford goes without saying. The tradition of Cal State Fullerton goes without saying. (There are tough teams) not only from this Regional but who this Regional matches up with (in the Super Regional) with the likes of USC and a very good Cal State Northridge club. But, if these two Regionals come to form matching up in the Super Regional will be two number one seeds from the same conference. It's almost like they found a way to keep some of the traditional Omaha teams out of Omaha this year, and that's unfortunate. Our sport has taken a few steps backward. For whatever reason, they chose to do this ... the main goal of the NCAA since 1999 was to get the best eight teams to Omaha and compete for a national championship. I'm not sure that they accomplished that (this year). There may be perimeters that they're operating under that caused that problem, but this is the truth. If you ask any coach in the country, even they're not participating in this Regional or the one at USC, they would say the same thing.'
(on Cal State Fullerton's regular season series at Stanford)
'We felt like we were very competitive in Friday's game. Wes (Littleton) threw a good game and just got one pitch up. He has thrown very well since then. We felt like if we handled the baseball a little better defensively, we might have come out with a victory on Friday. We got crushed on Saturday, and we're never in that ball game. Basically, we had a little better attitude on Sunday than the Cardinal, because we had something to prove. We got up off the mat. They had had their way with us for quite some time and maybe they took us a little fore granted and we won that game. But, Stanford's tough anywhere - here, our play and Omaha.'
(on sophomore relief pitcher Chad Cordero)
'I'm not sure many teams in the country have a closer as good as Chad Cordero. He's a guy we've believed in for almost two years now. We feel very good when we hand him the ball. We had gone about 80 straight games without giving up a lead going into the seventh inning until I broke that string at Reno when I was calling the pitches. But, our ability to hold leads late in the game is that we choose to put one of our best pitchers in that role. In this case with Chad, it's no different. He's not only one of our finest pitchers, he's one of the finest pitchers in the country.'
Sophomore Outfielder Shane Costa)
(on using a sweep by Long Beach State in the final week of the regular season as motivation)
'We use that as motivation because Long Beach State is in this regional, but on the other side of the coin you have to put it behind you, also. We got swept, but we've got to move on.'
Sophomore Pitcher Wes Littleton
(on the pitching matchup with Jeremy Guthrie)
'In my first start at Stanford (earlier this year), I was a little bit nervous. But after that, I have been cruising. Hopefully Friday, I won't be too nervous at the Regional. Everything should go well.'
(on changing his pitching when he's facing someone like Jeremy Guthrie)
'You just have to pitch your game. You can't think about the status of the other pitcher. You can't focus on what he's doing. You just have to concentrate on yourself.'
LONG BEACH STATE
Head Coach Mike Weathers
'We are happy to be back at Stanford. I think this is the toughest Regional in the country. We were really anxious to host and that was the first thing we were looking forward to. I know last week we swept Cal State Fullerton and without our conference champion putting in a bid (Cal State Northridge), we were looking to finish second and host. We didn't get to host, so the next best thing is to come somewhere you've been before and this is third time in the last five years we've been here. In 1998, we won out of here and went to Omaha. Last year, we went two and out, but we're pretty familiar with being here. We have a lot of players that were fortunate to be here last year. It's going to be a really challenge. Our first opponent San Jose State is going to be a real challenge. We know what we're up against. It kind of goes along with the kind of schedule we put together, the toughest schedule we can. That has got us to this point.'
(on his pitching staff)
'We're going to start Daniel Eisentrager, mainly our Saturday starter this year. We're going to hold back our normal Friday starter Abe Alvarez because we think this is a better matchup with San Jose State. Our depth of pitching has been a strength for us all year. With some early season injuries in the pitching staff, some guys got a chance to step up for us and do a great job. Our bullpen has been outstanding all year. We have no problem going to them. In a Regional situation, you need pitching depth. We've always believed at Long Beach State that you need a deep and quality pitching staff. We've always prided ourselves in our pitching, and I don't think this year is any different.
(on his first year as the head coach at Long Beach State after a long tenure as an assistant coach)
'It was a really easy transition. (Former head coach) Dave (Snow) and I group up and learned the game together as junior college teammates. We basically have the same philosophies. Being at Long Beach State for nine years with him, I ended up being a better coach than I ever was before. I inherited a lot of guys that have been here for three or four years that knew what it took to be a Dirtbag and get to Omaha and the Regionals. That made it really easy for me. They have responded.'
(on the difference between San Jose State now and when the Spartans were in the Big West)
'I'd like to know that. It's a completely different program. I don't know if it was a lack of funding or assistants before. Obviously, something has changed in the last four years, because they have an excellent program.'
Sophomore pitcher Abe Alvarez
(on two different games against Cal State Fullerton, one a win and one a loss)'There was really no difference. I just excecuted better the second time.'
(defining a Dirtbag)
'We play hard every day - practice, weight room, conditioning. We use our heart and even more our mind to play. It takes 100%. We get dirty on the ballfield. That's how we play.'
Junior outfielder/infielder Jeremy Reed
(about being dropped to the third spot in the batting order)
'There's definitely not less pressure or more pressure. I just have been on a roll since I've been in that position. I had my struggles at the beginning of the year, but there was no difference as to where I hit in the lineup. My preparation was the same (as earlier in the year), I just wasn't getting the same results.'
(defining a Dirtbag)
'I'ts an all-out 110% effort. We break it down to as far as putting on a uniform. We love to do that. It's not something that we just do. We put it on with pride. We take everything we do to heart. We love our teammates. We love being together as one unit. We'll get dirty any second we possibly can.'
SAN JOSE STATE
Head Coach Sam Piraro
'First of all, we are pleased to be in this Regional this week. We have a lot of players who are local players that have family able to come here. Even our players from out of the area, it gives their families the opportunity to get here. This certainly is an outstanding Regional, maybe as good as there is in the country, and it poses a great challenge for our players. We are looking forward to this opportunity, and I want it to be a great experience for our players.'
(on both San Jose State and Stanford not able to advance to the College World Series as in 2000)
'The structure is not set up that way. We're not in the decision making process, that's out of our hands, so wherever they send us to play, we're going to play. It is a shame the West Coast and California in particular, may not have the representation that it might have. But those are things we cannot control. We are here, Stanford is here and two fine teams from Southern California are here, and it's going to be quite a competition.'
(on the point of the season where he knew this year's team was special)
'I thought a real breakthrough for us was when we made a 12-day road trip to Hawaii where we had to play nine consecutive days in a row over spring break. I thought that was a challenging time for our team. It's not that easy to win in Hawaii, and it's easy to get distracted. Our team did an excellent job, and immediately came back and played Rice and Stanford and we sustained that good fortune. I felt after that this was a pretty battle-hardened team.'
(on how important it is to have depth at pitching)
'Our staff has been resilient in the sense we have played with the rotation a bit over the course of the season. We have used three different guys as our Friday starter, but we have what we call a 'no ego staff.' It's not important to any one person to be labeled the 'Friday guy' or maybe being held back in the rotation because we may want to use him out of the bullpen early in the series. I have been fortunate enough to have our assistant coach Doug Thurman do a marvelous job working with our pitching staff to prepare the guys technically and mentally as well. When you get to a Regional like this, you ask your guys to go on short notice, be a volunteer on short notice, but our team has done that all year long. I think we can throw six guys who can do the job for us who will compete extremely well.'
(on pitching with four evenly matched teams in the Regional)
'It's a fine line, you don't want to go to your bullpen too soon, because you may have to play five games. At the same time, you cannot let a game get away from you. Your starting pitching is very important and the first game starter has a lot of responsibility. There is no doubt the pitching is the name of the game and where it really becomes important is in the Regional and Super Regional. The team that goes all the way is going to have top-notch pitching.'
(on the match-up with Long Beach State)
'I am very aware of Long Beach State, and they are a tenacious club. In many ways, they are similar to our team. If you look at the statistics, they are similar and the style of play is the same. I think it is a 90-foot game when you play a team like Long Beach State. You have to be very proficient and the team that makes the least amount of mistakes is in the best position to win the game. In post-season play, 'a' mistake can be deadly and impact the ballgame.'
(on his game 1 starter, Matt Durkin)
'Matt has proven over the course of the season to be ready for the challenge. He does not get nervous and keeps his emotions under control. I have put him in some very tough assignments this yea, and he has yet to buckle. I expect Matt to compete extremely well for us.'
(on if he thinks the team has an 'underdog' status)
'I don't think our guys want to be considered an underdog. I don't feel they need to take that role. Do we have the least amount of tradition amongst the four teams? Probably. But this group has made a real name for San Jose State over the last few of years. They deserve to be here. This is a fine club comprised of some tough players. I don't look at us as being in an underdog role and our players don't either.'
Senior Catcher Adam Shorsher
(on the comparison of the 2002 and 2000 teams)
'Talent-wise we have a much more talented team this time around. Offensively, we have a much stronger team throughout the line-up. As far as similarities, both teams know how to win. Both teams find a way to win, whether it's a great pitching performance, a great defensive effort or just solid offense the whole game.'
(on how the experience of 2000 helps the team this year)
'From a personal standpoint, I don't think I'll have any real surprises and I get to show some of the younger guys what to expect. I try to tell them not to get distracted, but at the same time try and enjoy the moment and just go out and play like we have been, which is at a real high level right now.'
Senior Second Baseman Gabe Lopez
(on whether he thinks the team has anything to prove since the team has the best record in the Regional, but is the #3 seed)
'I don't think we have anything to prove to anybody. We are just grateful to be here, and in maybe the toughest Regional in the nation. We just want to take advantage of every opportunity we get here.'
(on if he thinks the team has an 'underdog' status)
'I don't think we do. We are just going to go about our business. We consider ourselves to be a blue-collar team and get want to get out there and maybe put together a couple of wins.'
Head Coach Mark Marquess
'We're excited to get going and to be hosting a Regional. We've hosted one for the last seven years in a row. It's exciting for our team and our fans. It's a very difficult Regional, especially when you open up against Cal State Fullerton, who we are very familiar with. They have an outstanding program. We played them in the College World last year and just can't seem to get away from them no matter where we go. It's ironic we opened up our regular season by playing Cal State Fullerton in a three-game series, and we are going to open our second season against Cal State Fullerton. The good news is I know a lot about them ... and the bad news is I know a lot about them. They are very good and will present a good test for us, but so is Long Beach State and San Jose State. It will be a great Regional, one of the toughest Regionals in the country.'
(on the four-team Regional format)
'That's the difficult thing for all of the coaches. We are all used to a three-game series. The Super Regional is no big deal because that's a three-game series, and we do that all year. The problem with the four-team Regional is that if you lose one of the first two games, then you're probably going to play five games if you hope to win the Regional, and that taxes your pitching staff. It doesn't become a problem until you lose one of those first two games, but there is only going to be one team that wins those first two. The other three teams have to start thinking about how they're going to pitch in the Regional. You're not just thinking about how you're going to pitch the next game, you're pitching to win the whole Regional. You have to be very careful about how you use your pitching staff and who you're going to start those fourth and fifth games. That's what you're going to need if you're going to win it. It becomes a problem for the teams that aren't undefeated after the first two games.'
(more on pitching philosophies in a Regional format)
'Last year, we lost to Texas in the second game of the Regional. Our third starter was Bruksch, but we saved him to pitch versus Texas in first championship game in the Regional. We threw Tim Cunningham against Marist on Saturday and then still had John Hudgins left on Sunday. If you lose one of those first two games, you are going to think about how you're going to use your pitching. Your goal is to win the Regional, not just one game. You might not pitch your next best pitcher in that next game. You may want to save him. I'll use whoever I have to use to win the first two games, almost any coach would. Then you decide what's left after the first two games. If you win the first two, it's a regular three-game series and you throw whom you normally would on Sunday. If you lose game three, then you just go to who's left.'
(on the strengths of the teams in the Regional)
'All four teams have solid pitching. Pitching depth becomes a concern for our team. I don't know that much about the depth on the other teams, but they all have good starting pitching, that's they're strength. Everyone is equal there.'
(on who Stanford will pitch Saturday)
'Depends on who we play, (Tim) Cunningham or (John) Hudgins.'
(on Stanford's pitching depth)
'We have less depth on our staff this year, but it's all relevant. We would about the same pitching depth that we would normally have on a Stanford team. Last year's staff was very unusual. I've never had the pitching depth and quality we had last year. That wasn't the norm. This is more of a typical Stanford team, good pitching but not with the same depth we had last year.'
Sophomore Outfielder Sam Fuld
(comparing the feeling this year to last year prior to the Regional)
'It's a little less nerve-wracking. Last year, I didn't know what to expect. This year, it's been easier. I'm still nervous and really excited, but it's a little more reassuring to know what's ahead of you. Overall, it's not too much different. It's the same atmosphere, the same feeling.'
Senior Second Baseman Chris O'Riordan
(on the team's regular season)
'It's been an interesting year, unlike any other. Each year seems to have its own kind of theme. My sophomore year, it was a veteran-laden team. Last year, it was a new type of season with lots of young guys, and we didn't know what to expect. Now, we have another veteran-laden team, but the shoe is on the other foot. Now, I'm one of the veterans. It's been an up and down season, but this team has the most potential of any team I've been on at Stanford. We have Incredibly exciting players, great depth off bench, in the pitching staff and the bullpen. We haven't really flashed that potential yet. The postseason could be a place where we shine.'