Michigan’s Tommy Henry threw a complete game three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 win Monday night against Florida State to stay in the winners’ bracket. Here’s everything head coach Erik Bakich and Tommy Henry had to say about the Wolverine’s win.
For a .pdf of the full Michigan transcript, click here.
Michigan Wolverines post game quotes
Michigan – 2, Florida State – 0
ERIK BAKICH: Well, in the biggest game in Michigan baseball history in a long, long time, we got the best pitching performance of Tommy Henry’s career. He was the entire story line tonight. We needed a strong performance, and he gave us something magical tonight. I think we’re all just in awe and very appreciative of holding down a very good Florida State team tonight, who’s been extremely hot and finding every single way to win.
Tommy was just — I don’t even know if there’s an adjective to describe how good he was, but he was better than that.
Q. Jesse, you guys finished the regular season losing five of seven, but you found something here in the postseason. What has changed with Michigan baseball to kind of make you guys the story of this tournament?
JESSE FRANKLIN: We just figured out that we were pressing and worried about just trying to win or trying not to lose, and now we’re just playing loose and having fun at TD AmeriPlayground (laughter).
Q. Joe, I wanted to ask you first what you saw from Tommy tonight, and what has made him so spectacular here in the postseason it seems like?
JOE DONOVAN: The first thing I think about when I think of Tommy is his discipline and consistency and how truly consistent he is throughout the year, whether it’s in a fall long toss because he took a little bit of time to get back into it after a long summer, but his intensity when he’s doing whatever he’s doing is just ridiculous. You guys are just starting to see it now because it’s on a national level, but that’s been Tommy the entire year. Like the discipline to keep the balls low in the zone, to not miss. If he does have a miss, the next pitch was — I think he shook me off after a hung breaking ball, and the next one was one of the dirtiest ones I’ve ever caught from him.
So that’s him in a nutshell is keeping the ball low in the zone, pounding it, discipline, taking breaths, the whole nine yards on it, and that’s been what we’ve seen from him this entire time. I know Coach will say the exact same thing, but I think you guys are just obviously starting to see it now, but that’s just Tommy Henry for you.
Q. Tommy, how did you prepare for FSU’s batters today, and what was your approach or mindset going really deep and obviously finishing this game?
TOMMY HENRY: You know, we just tried as a pitching staff to come out here and do what we’ve done all year, attack the strike zone and play the numbers. A great hitter is going to get out seven out of ten times, so if you attack the strike zone, you force the issue, and let the defense work, and you saw that tonight. Chris Bullock was running all around left field making a heck of a play. You saw in the ninth inning Ako was diving, a one-hop, hard-hit ground ball that he’s making the play on a huge spot.
So to trust — it’s easy when you can trust those guys behind you and just kind of watch them work and let them make the highlight plays.
Q. Tommy, take me to the end of the game when you’ve got the last out and it’s been accomplished, you’ve gone nine innings against a strong team and Joe is running up to you. Talk about your emotions at that time.
TOMMY HENRY: Pure joy. I mean, it didn’t matter what role you played in the game. I’m sure everyone was feeling the exact same way. You know, we just show up to the field one day at a time, just trying to win games for each other, for the block M, for the eight letters on our chest. And so whether you were in the bunker all game or you hit a home run the second at-bat of the game, everyone is feeling that pure joy just because it’s a special team, we’re playing for each other, and we’re playing for the block M on our hat. So we’re all just pumped up that we get to be here a few more days to play another baseball game.
Q. Jesse, you and Jordan both swung at the first pitches you saw to start the game. Was that part of kind of the game plan against Florida State today and you really got into one there? And for Tommy, what was it like starting out with a 1-0 lead that helped you with confidence and helped you pound the zone early on?
JESSE FRANKLIN: Going into the game we weren’t necessarily thinking to swing at the first pitch or anything like that. As hitters in general we were just trying to look for fastballs early in the game to hit hard, and it just happened that both of us got good ones to hit.
TOMMY HENRY: And yeah, big thanks to this guy. Pitching with a lead is much easier than pitching behind or in a tie game. It gives you the freedom to just attack and to watch the defense work and let them make the plays, not have to do too much. So to be able to do that from the first time you step on the mound is fun, and the defense made every play tonight.
Q. Tommy, obviously you had a really good slider going it seemed like all night, but it seemed like you really got that changeup going, too, in the middle to later part of the game. Did you want to keep that in your back pocket, and did you feel like you featured that more the second or third time through?
TOMMY HENRY: Yeah, Coach Fetter drew up a great game plan tonight and we were doing anything we could to keep those guys off balance. That’s a deep, talented lineup. You’ve seen how hot they are, great coach. It’s just a great group of guys. And so the plan was just to keep them as off-balance as we could, and it just happened to work out a little bit.
Q. You guys have jumped out to a 1-0 lead in each of the first two games here in Omaha and really the whole NCAA tournament I believe you’ve led at some point in every game. How do you think that’s helped the team just always at least at some point in the game knowing you have that lead to play with?
ERIK BAKICH: I think any team that scores first has a little bit of a confidence and a looseness about them that allows our — the freedom of being able to take chances on the bases, to employ some different types of plays, whether it be first-and-third plays or just being aggressive on the bases. When you’re at a deficit you don’t want to make any outs on the bases.
So getting ahead and trying to extend the lead is something every team is trying to do.
Q. Coach, what was your mindset going into today facing off against the legendary Mike Martin?
ERIK BAKICH: Well, on behalf of every Division I coach, we have the utmost respect for Coach Martin, and just the legendary career that he has put together. I don’t think his record will ever be broken. 40 years of 40 or more wins. And the type of person that he is. He’s as genuine and as humble and what you see is what you get. When he didn’t have to be nice to me as a first-year head coach at the University of Maryland, and he goes out of his way to talk to me and give me advice and put his arm around me, our teams were struggling back then, he’s just — he cares a great deal about people. I’ll never forget those opportunities in the last 10 years of getting to be across the field from him.
Q. I know Tommy was just kind of untouchable for about the entire first half of the season, and it seemed like maybe there was a little stretch there in the second half where it wasn’t quite as effective, and now he’s kind of at this level. Can you take us through what you’ve seen from him, from that mid-season point to now?
ERIK BAKICH: Yeah, he was battling a little bit of biceps tendinitis in the middle part of the season and just mis-firing a little bit up in the zone. But what you’ve seen the last few weeks is this guy opening up his chest and seeing his character and seeing his makeup. He’s an incredibly consistent person, like Joe made reference to. That’s why he’s elected captain. He does all the right things all the time, in the classroom, in the community. He’s an unbelievable teammate, and if we need him to pitch with the flu and a touch of pneumonia, he does it. We need the biggest performance in the biggest game of our season, he does it. He’s just an unbelievable kid.
Q. Erik, talk about your pitching going forward. Your pitchers came up so strong for you now that you have so much you can do in terms of how you attack the next game. Do you have anything that you’re 100 percent sure that you’re going to do with the pitching going forward? And talk about how you’ll spend the next three days.
ERIK BAKICH: Well, we’ll spend tomorrow figuring out how to hit a left-handed slider, that’s for sure. No, we’ll — we are in a good position just to — because of the two quality starts we got from Karl and Tommy. We have Jeff Criswell who’s available to start Friday, we also have Karl Kauffmann who’s available to start Friday. I think we’ll figure that out in the next few days.
These next couple of days we’re going to lift weights. We are going to work on our offense a little bit. Tommy covered up a lot of mistakes offensively tonight and not making adjustments to some tricksters out of the bullpen, the sidearm guy and then the backwards mixer lefty. So gotta tighten some things up offensively, but that’s what pitching and defense can do, they can cover up a night where you don’t have your best offensive performance, but you get a couple of timely hits with the home run and the two-out RBI single and it was enough.
Q. And just to follow up, Ako made a big play to keep it so that the tying run wasn’t coming to the plate. Talk about that play in the ninth inning.
ERIK BAKICH: Well, Ako is a special defender. He has been doing that for four straight years. He’s a guy that can change the momentum of a game with his defense. He made a diving play up the middle in Game 1. He made that play in the 4 hole tonight in the ninth inning, which was a huge play, just to minimize any type of a rally.
I thought our — Coach Schnabel and Coach Brdar and Coach Fetter putting together that game plan for how we were going to attack their hitters, and then Coach Schnabel and Coach Brdar, the defensive positioning tonight I thought was fantastic, as well. It seemed like we had a lot of at ’em balls tonight and that’s because our guys were standing in the right spot.