Pre CWS Championship Series Press Conference Quotes

June 20, 2003

June 20, 2003


Head Coach Mark Marquess
(Opening statement): 'We've had a nice blend of some veterans and some youth but its been a great ride. I'm thankful that we have a day here to catch our breath, get refocused and try to get prepared for a very strong Rice team. We're very thrilled and very excited, and now we just have to go do a little more work.'

(On the experience factor): 'I think experience is always really important in the College World Series. I think if you come to the World Series and you have players who have been here before, that's really important, especially early. I don't think that later on it's as critical, because everyone gets used to it. When you come here with a group of players that hasn't been here before, its really difficult, because things are so different -- the media attention, the pregame practice, the batting practice, everything - it's a huge adjustment, for coaches and for players. So I think that it's very important to have experience, especially in the first few games. No question that experience helps you.'

(On the best-of-three championship series format): 'I think most of the coaches and people in college baseball that I've talked to like the best-of-three format because they think that it's more conducive to what baseball's about. We all play three game series on the weekends to win the conference, and that's what our season's all about. Baseball's a game where you play more than one game.'

(On the legitimacy of previous champions): 'Everybody knew what the rules were coming in. You make an adjustment as a coaching staff to do what you have to do to win it [in one game]. I think it's fair for everybody. Now if you change the rules in the middle, that's a different story. But I think that the best-of-three is great, and I think the way that the committee set up the bracket is ideal. It rewards the team like Rice that won three straight - they're well-rested, and that's great. It's an advantage and you reward them for winning. But, you also give a day off before starting this thing, so a team like Stanford that's played a lot of games, at least you get a little bit of a break. It's very fair.'

(On pitching depth): 'I think the nice thing about the championship is that pitching depth comes into play. You go to a Super Regional, and its not as important. At the College World Series, it can go either way. If you win the first three, you could conceivably get to the championship series with two pitchers if everything went great. But if you lose one of those first couple of games as we did, then there's a real emphasis on pitching depth. So I think it's a great combination. You can never have too much pitching - pitching depth is great, but you can also win if you don't have it. The baseball championship is set up in such a way it's a blend - it depends on how you do.'

(On college baseball scholarships): 'I don't think you can talk to a coach who wouldn't tell you that we want more scholarships. The flip side of that is - and I would like more scholarships because you have a team of 25 to 30 and you only have 11.7 scholarships - that's pretty difficult - but the fact of the matter is, that scholarship limitation is part of our parity. This game has changed. Fifteen or 20 years ago, to begin the season, you could have said 'one of these five teams is going to win the national championship', and you'd be right. Now, you pick thirty teams that could win it, and you might be wrong. Because of that parity, we have better facilities, better exposure, and our game is healthier than it's ever been. Again, I would like more scholarships, but our game is very healthy right now.'

(on his pitching rotation): 'Well, obviously I've thought about it. As Coach [Kunis] mentioned, a lot of times it depends on how a pitcher's arm feels. We're not going to pitch them if they don't feel right. I would think right now, (Ryan) McCally and (Mark) Romanczuk are possibilities. Their pitch counts are not too high and they've had enough rest. The starters have pitched once a week - that's six days off - for most of the year, so at the end of the season it is possible to go on short rest if their arm feels fine. After practice today, we'll see how McCally and Romanczuk feel and we'll make a decision.'Note: The decision to start Ryan McCally was made following the press conference

Pitcher John Hudgins
(On academics): 'At Stanford, that's something that we definitely take pride in. Every single one of our guys graduates, we all work hard to get ahead in school, and Coach (Mark) Marquess really pushes us hard academically, going through classes with us every quarter and trying to get us through just because he knows that baseball is not the end of life. Both institutions here definitely realize that. It's a great thing, it's what college athletics are all about - you go to college to get a degree, not just to play, and it's pretty special that both teams are here and both focus on that.'

Catcher Ryan Garko
(On the road to the championship): 'After Sunday's loss, I think we all went back to the hotel that night and knew we had an uphill battle. We came together as a group pretty well in that South Carolina game, and we beat Fullerton twice. We were pretty ecstatic last night to beat them twice - you have to give them credit because they're a great team. The playoffs have been one great pitching staff after another. We faced Long Beach and had to go through Fullerton, and now we've got a couple more first round draft picks staring us in the face. It's just been one after another, and it doesn't get any easier now, it probably gets tougher. This is the way it should be if you're going to win a national championship. You should have to beat all of the best teams, and this should be the best team we face all year. We're excited, and we accept the challenge. This is what we worked for all year. A week ago it didn't look too good for us, but we came together as a group and got after Fullerton, and now we have this opportunity.'

(On not having faced Rice's pitching before): 'We go through games all year where we haven't see guys before. Coach (Mark) Marquess just stresses watching guys -- in the pen, warming up, how they approach guys the first time through the lineup. That's all you can do. You basically have to see the ball and hit it. That's not something new for us, we see new guys all the time, we're used to it.

Rightfielder Carlos Quentin
(On Rice's pitcher Jeff Niemann): 'He's a big guy and everything, and he's got good stuff, but he's still got to throw the ball over the plate, and that's how you have to go about it. It'll be fun; a challenge. They've got a good pitching staff, and I'm excited to see what they've got. I think it'll be a lot of fun.'

Leftfielder Danny Putnam
(On Rice's pitching): 'Their numbers are definitely really impressive. They've got good pitching, and I think we've got a good offense, so I think it will be a great battle. We've got some good pitching left and they've got some good hitters, so it's going to be some real balanced and exciting games.'

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