After a 5-3 loss to Louisville on Wednesday, Auburn is the second team eliminated from the 2019 College World Series.
Here is everything that Butch Thompson, Conor Davis and Steven Williams had to say following Auburn’s loss. You can see a .PDF of the full press conference here.
Louisville – 5, Auburn – 3
BUTCH THOMPSON: Just congratulations to Louisville and Dan McDonnell. Their program did a great job today, and thank you to the NCAA, Omaha, Exchange Club that hosted us this week.
Definitely my players and our staff have worked so hard the entire year, and so many of our fans, getting to hear them, it’s been an enjoyable, entertaining, great week and an unbelievable experience to see our program continue to grow and go step by step.
Hate that it ends today. I think our players, just right up to the end, you could see that our guys are pretty resilient and continued to fight. I’m proud of that.
Now they don’t get to play anymore. I’d like to have another day to keep competing. So I’ll miss that with this group, because every group is different every single year, and not to get to compete with them again — probably could have played a little more sound. Another timely hit or two would have been good. I know we had 13 hits in the ballgame today, and a lot of it just started with the resilience. We just had trouble getting the leadoff man on I think basically to the eighth inning that wiped away and it was two outs and nobody on and we get some consecutive hits there and just fight right to the end.
I think Conor, since we come back from the delay overnight, split two gaps and hit a ball out, just a special three at-bats for him.
All the way around, every one of our players, if anything negative would come toward Auburn baseball and the program, it should be directed right square at my chest and not any person, for me being with them every day, from our support staff, from our players, from anybody that I’ve watched work this year, to help this ballclub, I’ll fight and protect. If anything of us being in a better position and trying to make the program better, every negative connotation should be directed right toward myself.
Q. Conor, you start the day today down three runs and seemed like early on, maybe, hard time getting things going, but this team just kept competing. What was the mood and the mindset, and did you guys feel like you still had that belief all the way through? It seemed like you did.
CONOR DAVIS: Yeah, no, I think the biggest thing for us was — I mean, it’s been our consistent mindset all year. We’ve had the battle-back mindset that we’re going to grind, we’re going to fight until the last out. Last night kind of refreshed us and restarted us today, and we came back out, and I know that Coach had already said that we couldn’t get anything going with our leadoff hitters and stuff like that, but even then you can see down in the ninth inning, we were battling with two outs, that’s a testimony to how our season was. We just battled even when it came down to the very last out.
Q. With the bases loaded in the eighth inning, feels like you guys were starting to string some pretty good at-bats together. How deflating was it to not get a run out of that situation?
STEVEN WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was pretty deflating, but at the same time, like Conor said, all year long we faced a ton of adversity throughout our games, and we’ve always battled back and we’ve always responded well. So at the same time, we didn’t really try to change anything. We tried to go back out in the ninth, get a shutdown inning, get back in here and have some good at-bats and see what happens.
Q. Could you guys just reflect on this run and getting this program here? How much does this mean to you guys as individuals to be part of this group that got this team back to Omaha?
CONOR DAVIS: Yeah, it’s a pretty special group. Coach Thompson was talking to us a couple days ago and said this is maybe the most different group we’ve had, and he said, you know what, we’re going to go with it, and we’ve been going with it all year.
But I think it’s just a testimony to Coach Thompson, the type of man he is and the leadership role he’s brought to Auburn baseball. Two years ago I ended my freshman year in a regional in Tallahassee, and last year a super regional in Florida. Just to get here and to make a mark like we have, it’s been 22 years and we’ve been working really hard. I just can’t wait to see where the program goes with Coach Thompson at its head. So it’s very exciting to see for the future.
STEVEN WILLIAMS: Yeah, like Conor said, it’s a great feeling to make it to Omaha since — I think ’97 it was, and it’s a testimony to all the hard work that we’ve put in and Coach Thompson and the staff he’s put together here at Auburn, and I think we’ll be back sooner than later.
Q. Coach, I asked the players this, but to have to go into the ninth inning still chasing three, given the opportunity you guys had in the eighth, did that feel like a crushing blow, just too much to save it? Did it feel like that was a big turning point in the result of the game?
BUTCH THOMPSON: I mean, I don’t know how your brain works compared to mine. I’ve never met you, but I wanted four more guys to come to the plate that inning. Judd had struck out three times, and he’s kind of a catalyst. He’s kind of our heartbeat. I thought Bliss had really had a good at-bat before with two outs and nobody on, he gets on and then Conor splits the gap. That’s how we got our third run, I believe.
So I just wanted to keep passing it down. You kind of know who’s swinging it good and who’s not, but you’re like, man, if we can just get — the command wasn’t the best right there for their pitcher, and you’re just trying to keep passing on, even see if they can sharp right there, if we can just pass it down, keeps us moving.
Yeah, when every inning ends, it hurts me. Does that make sense? Trying to score every inning of a ballgame. So it always punches me in the gut because you reset from there.
But none more than the other. 5-2 has actually been our score here in the postseason, unfortunately. We’ve been coming back from a couple of big 5-2, and of course I didn’t want that fifth run to score, but when I saw it, I’m like, maybe we’ve got one more magical run in us, and it didn’t happen today.
But, sure, that was a moment, and we didn’t get anything out of it. We got three consecutive hits. If you look, we got 13 hits versus their seven there, and you wind up scoring less runs, so that’s what I meant.
We just didn’t — they were much more opportunistic. They walked four guys, we walked five guys, but they sure got more done, especially that fourth inning in the rain yesterday. That was three walks, and then we didn’t dominate a routine play in the rain. I still go back to that being a big moment in the ballgame because this was part of that game.
Q. You talked about the rain. Just what was that like yesterday, and how tough was that for you guys out there?
BUTCH THOMPSON: Same for both. You just play — you’re trusting umpires to make the best decision for our student-athletes, period. I hope that’s what we’re doing, not for anything else.
Q. The way Edouard bounced back and had four really good at-bats today, what was his state of mind heading into this thing, and how proud are you of him?
BUTCH THOMPSON: Yeah, very proud. Steven Williams is still swinging it great. He ends this year, and he squared up a bunch of balls, last ball down the right field corner. He’s been doing that.
Julien’s 10-pitch at-bat yesterday, first inning, first at-bat or second inning, whatever he hit, he had a 10-pitch at-bat and then a single up the middle. He’s okay. You know why? Because he plays for Auburn. And if you listen, I think that was the loudest ovation I heard yesterday.
So I compliment my fans, and we’re trying to build a baseball base of fans. It’s going great, and how they responded yesterday, I was just like, yes, because they lifted him up before that first at-bat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s how I know from — when things are being built the right way and people are getting behind our players the right way. It’s not surfing the internet, it’s actually seeing organically what’s happening with our crowd and the connection to our best players.