For Texas Tech’s players and coaches, it’s ‘on to the next one’, while Arkansas eyes a fresh start next season. Here’s every postgame quote after the Red Raiders’ 5-4 victory over the Razorbacks.
Texas Tech postgame quotes
Tim Tadlock: We had a hunch these guys were going to be fun to watch with their backs against the wall. We really hadn’t been in that position throughout the year. Played really good baseball pretty much, and we try to approach each day and good win that day and play the game the right way. Caleb Kilian gave us an opportunity today that the way he pitched gave us an opportunity to come through late in the game. Cam got on with a walk and Cody ran the ball out into right center. There was a lot of really good at-bats throughout the day. And again, we just kind of had a hunch after the other day these guys — they’re going to be fun to watch with their backs against the wall. They like playing baseball, and they like preparing. It’s just one of those deals, it’s going to be fun to watch them.
Q. Caleb, how would you assess your start? Seemed like you had a lot of success with that breaking ball, especially against the top of their lineup?
Caleb Kilian: Yeah, I think it improved throughout the game. I don’t think it was that great at the beginning. But I felt like I had good command with all my pitches for the most part, and I think that’s what really helped me out.
Q. Cam, more fun to hit one out of the park or get to show off your wheels there?
Cameron Warren: It was probably more fun to hit it out. I’m still kind of tired still probably a little bit.
Q. Caleb, how much of a lift does it give you personally, or the team in general, when Cam runs that ball out there like that because at the time Arkansas had put some runs together against you and you guys had really had to get it going offensively?
Kilian: Yeah, that was huge. That gave me a ton of confidence. Man, that was awesome because I was kind of just grinding it out, out there, hoping for some run support, and then Cam comes through with that. I kind of knew it was coming. I had a feeling about it, so when it happened I was pumped and that got us going on a little roll, and then our hitters started getting some hits, so it was good.
Q. Caleb, what helped you settle in there after that third inning when Arkansas got up 3-0? Seemed like after that you retired seven of the next eight. What helped you settle in?
Kilian: Honestly I didn’t feel like I changed a whole lot. I just felt like I was commanding my pitches from the very beginning, so I just kept doing the same thing. I didn’t let it get in my head that they were hitting me or anything, and I just kind of flushed it real quick, kept doing what I was doing, and it seemed to work.
Q. Cameron, how long did it seem, feel, from first base around to home, that distance?
Warren: Pretty far. Honestly whenever — I didn’t see that I was stealing. That’s the first time I’ve stolen in so long, and I didn’t even look in, and it got so loud and I heard it off the bat, I was like, I think it’s gone but I was like I gotta run. Then I saw J-Bob at third base telling me to go, so I was like, come on, big boy, you’ve got to score. (Laughter).
Q. Cody, just going into that spot, what was your just mentality going into that, especially in that big spot?
Cody Masters: Prior to that, didn’t have many good at-bats before that, and so whenever I was stepping on deck, just kind of took a deep breath, tried to forget everything and tried to come through for the squad that’s always come through for me when it mattered. Just basically flushing it, I guess.
Q. Cody, Scroggins obviously was having a lot of success with that slider. I think he threw all sliders to Jung. Were you expecting him to attack you with the fastball and were you sitting on that pitch?
Masters: All day I was kind of getting myself out on the changeups and sliders. So early on I was kind of looking to hit that, I guess, and I got up 3-1, so I kind of scooted up. He was missing away a little bit, so I figured he’d go there again and I got ahold of a low-and-away pitch, I believe.
Q. Coach, I’m curious the thought process on going with Easton in the leadoff spot. That’s a big spot for him, for a guy that hasn’t been in this position a whole lot.
Tadlock: Yeah, we’ve played two years with the same leadoff hitter. Gabe Holt has been very dynamic for us. It’s not really up for debate if he’s healthy who’s hitting leadoff. Really wanted to give our lineup the same look and wanted to get a left-handed bat in there, and you’re really looking at there’s some guys that have hit leadoff on our team, Dylan Neuse, Max Marusak, Dru Baker, and I’m talking about in their career, and Easton Murrell is the other one. Really just felt like the left-handed bat was the right thing to stick in there. And then the advantage he has by he’s seen everybody out of their bullpen, the older guys. He’s seen them a number of times. So a little bit of both went into it. But really we’ve played — let’s see, we played opening day here and then our third game of the super regional, those are the two games we’ve played without Gabe Holt. So we’re going through some changes, and we’ve got to try to be as competitive as we can be 1 through 9, and just felt like Easton is a guy that’s handled that.
Q. Did you feel like a genius when he ran that ball out of the ballpark against his old team?
Tadlock: Well, what’s funny is I was talking to Matt and we were talking about the next inning, and really — no. I mean, no, it didn’t surprise me at all. He’s put together really good at-bats over the last month, maybe even the last six weeks. He hit some balls in Oklahoma City just like that, that went for outs. The ballpark was playing a little bit bigger. So I mean, I’m just really proud of him and thankful we’ve got him.
Q. Did you see anything from Caleb in the first couple of innings that would be easy in an elimination situation that you guys were down — did you see something specific that you wanted to let him have another shot out there?
Tadlock: He was commanding the ball. The pitch to Kjerstad was a fastball away, and we just didn’t — we really thought it would be a hard fly ball to center or left, and he just got every bit of it, back-spun it and the ball went out of the ballpark. And then the other two runs scored in that inning, ball barely lands in front of Kurt. You’re talking about a foot, maybe two feet from being out of the inning. And then the other one is supposed to be an elevated fastball, and it’s a ground ball in the 6 hole with a left-handed hitter. So we thought he was executing pitches for the most part, and Caleb is a guy that’ll battle. He’s a guy no matter what happens he’s going to keep trying to execute pitches and shows a lot of his maturity as a pitcher.
Q. I don’t know if you’ve answered this already, but just that last inning where Caleb was able to get out of there to maybe save Taylor from having to go to an extra batter at some point, how big was that for him to get out of that, just kind of really end —
Tadlock: It was huge. Martin had had really — he’d been seeing the ball really good on him, or we’d be missing location and really just felt like Caleb was locating at that point and felt like if he located the pitches, we were going to be in good shape, and he did, thank goodness.
Arkansas postgame quotes
Dave Van Horn: Well, obviously it was a tough loss. Pretty well-played game by both teams. For the most part, there really wasn’t too many mistakes. Just kind of who got the big hit and who didn’t. Give credit to Kilian. I thought he did a good job of battling and finding a way to get through some innings. Kept eating up innings. I think one time maybe Coach Tadlock might have been going out there to take him out, at least that’s what it looked like and he promptly got another out, and got them through that inning and gave his bullpen a chance to rest a little bit more. But just some big hits. Texas Tech took advantage of a couple of things, and tough loss, two tough losses here for us. Two one-run losses that really could have gone either way.
Q. Casey, you had a couple of hits off Kilian but you also had a couple of strikeouts against that breaking ball. Thoughts about how he approached you and the lineup?
Casey Martin: I thought he did a good job. Like Coach said, he kept us off balance. He had really good stuff. He stayed strong throughout until they took him out. He threw me a lot of curve balls. I think maybe I was pressing a little bit too much, kind of in a gotta win situation, and that’s on me being an older guy. I should know not to press, and I did. So I had a couple of bad at-bats, a couple good hits. That’s just baseball. But I thought he did an outstanding job. He’s a good pitcher, and he took advantage of it.
Q. This is for Casey: You obviously had a really good day with a double and a triple, but with the top of the order up, two guys on, no outs, were you pretty confident you guys would score there? How tough is it the way the ninth inning went down?
Martin: Yeah, I had a lot of confidence top to bottom, doesn’t matter who came up. I know our guys, they’ve battled all year and done an outstanding job competing in the box. Just didn’t fall our way, and like I said, that’s baseball, and it’s a tough situation, but sometimes it just comes down to that, and we just didn’t get it done.
Q. This is for both Heston and Casey: Heston, what was the pitch you hit on the home run?
Heston Kjerstad: Fastball middle away.
Q. After the way you guys got shut out, how good did that feel to break the ice?
Kjerstad: It’s always good for someone to get the team rolling. We kind of feed off each other; once one guy starts hitting, other guys start to follow. So just to be able to get that rolling a little bit for us was good for us as a team.
Q. For both you guys, you’re going to come back and be the heart of the team next year. How good do you feel about the season you had getting here, because a lot of people didn’t have you doing that before the season? And how good do you feel about the guys you’ve got coming back, even though you’re losing a lot of good players, too?
Martin: I thought we had an outstanding year, being counted out from the beginning. We bring in some new guys, Trevor Ezell did more than outstanding for us, and he’s a competitor. Without bringing guys in like that, true leaders for this team, I guess you just could say such a young team we have, that it shows these younger guys what it takes to get here. So they’ve experienced it now, and they know what it takes. We needed that, and I think we’ll be good if we can build off that.
Kjerstad: We had a spectacular year getting back here for the second year in a row, but it shows a lot about the incoming guys that came in and replaced a lot of the starters and experience we had from last season, and it took everyone on our whole roster to get us here, and it was just great to be back, and we’ll look back on the season and realize how good we were for the whole season, how good of an experience we had. But for now it’s obviously a little bitter once the season is over.
Q. Kind of building on that, the character and the fight of this team, you had the early lead, they came back, take the lead. Trading blows, how much do you think that says about the heart that this team has played with all year long?
Kjerstad: We’ve been that way all year. There’s been games to where we’ve been behind and our offense will keep striking back and our pitchers will keep us in the ballgame, and I don’t think there’s too many games this year that we didn’t feel like we had a chance to come back and take the lead for our pitchers, and then our bullpen to come out there and shut them down again.
Martin: I mean, I think it just says a lot of what Coach here has done for this program. He goes out and gets competitors, the guys that want to compete, and that’s awesome. That’s big time for this program, and I think that’s why we’re pretty successful is because he surrounds this team with guys like Ezell and Zay (Campbell) and Scroggins, and man, it’s been awesome, and I think it just says a lot about our program.
Q. Dave alluded to it in his opening comments, but you come here and two one-run losses, could have gone either way. You guys could have been 2-0 with a couple of breaks instead of 0-2. How tough is that to contemplate?
Martin: I mean, sometimes the ball bounces a little funny, and it didn’t go our way, but that’s just baseball for you. Just tells you it could go either way, and yeah, it’s tough, but like I said, that’s baseball.
Kjerstad: Yeah, we just — you know, one swing of the bat in either game for how close they were could have changed the outcome. You know, it didn’t happen for us, but we’ll get back after it.
Q. I don’t know if it’s realistic for anybody to go to the World Series three years in a row, but do you guys feel good that you have a shot next year to be back here?
Martin: I mean, honestly this program that we run at Fayetteville, I don’t see why not. Coach has done an outstanding job recruiting. We have a lot of good young talent coming in. So you know, like I said, they know what it takes to get here, and I think this experience will be good for them, good for the older guys coming back, and I don’t see why not. But I think our program is good enough for it.
Kjerstad: We have good coaching and great players that come in every year, our program is never out of the running. You’ve just got to keep playing and we’ll get back after it in the fall and improve and be back in the spring.
Q. Dave, you got the first two guys on in the ninth, you have the top of the order. It was looking pretty good there. What were you thinking, and I guess, the job their guy did of getting you guys out?
Van Horn: Well, Floyd came in and did a great job. He had an opportunity to let that thing slip away, and he didn’t. I think they thought we were bunting with Franklin; we weren’t. And I just wanted to see if we could draw them in a little bit and maybe he could slap the ball by him, and it worked. Then Ezell obviously coming up, one of our best hitters, switch-hitters, he had an option to bunt for a hit if they stayed back. If they were up I wanted him to swing. Looking back at it, I wish he would have hit the first pitch. It was maybe a ball low but it was probably the only fastball he got, and the third baseman is way up, Warren is way up, and they started backing up a little bit. But I just didn’t feel good about bunting one of my best hitters with first base open, then they’d have an option to either walk Casey, set up a double play, or the other thing is there’s a lot of swing-and-miss there in the 2 hole, and I just felt like that the key at-bat was going to be Trevor. Trevor needed to hopefully advance and maybe drive them in, and he made some really good pitches to Trevor. You know, but it was looking good, but you’ve got to get them over and in, and we didn’t.
Q. Dave, Kopps has only given up two home runs all season and then he gave up two today. What did you see from him?
Van Horn: He made a couple of mistakes, got behind in the count. The first couple of hitters, three hitters he sees, he’s 2-0 before he knew what hit him. I think he went 3-0, came back, ended up getting the first hitter, and just kind of set a pattern that way a little bit. And then he goes out and gives up another home run in the second inning and then he’s like lights out. You know, a little confusing there for us what to do. I only have so many guys really available and we’ve still got a lot of innings to get. You know, you have a couple really good hitters and make a mistake. A couple of really good hitters and make a mistake, and you’ve got to give their hitters credit, when we made a mistake they hit it, and that was the difference in the game. Warren got a hanging breaking ball off Noland and it left the yard first pitch, and all of a sudden they’re down 3-2 and we were cruising a little bit and that spun the game, and the triple that gave them the lead was a 3-1 pitch. Cody got behind. Pitch really wasn’t a bad pitch, it was a fastball away, went out and got it and hammered it. But the problem was we were behind in the count. The run that ended up scoring to give them the lead was a walk. The run that scored the other night, a guy got hit in the back, got hit by a pitch. Then they got some big hits after it or a sac fly or whatever. That ended up being the difference. But we left too many runners on base here. We had eight runners today. Eight runners the other day we didn’t drive in, and that ended up being the bottom line. We just didn’t score enough runs.
Q. Dave, Caleb Kilian didn’t allow you guys to get in a groove offensively, nine strikeouts. What did you see from him, especially with that breaking ball?
Van Horn: I felt like he did a really good job with his fastball, not leaving it in the middle of the plate when he threw it, and then he pitched off of it with a lot of breaking balls. The fastball was getting up there 92, 93 miles an hour, maybe a little bit more every now and then, with some run, and they had to respect that fastball, and then he kept them off that breaking ball, which was really good. Just a good mix and really not leaving too much out there for us to hit.
Q. I know it’s a tough way for it to end, but kind of putting the season in perspective, considering all you lost, how do you feel about the season overall and the future because you’ve got some of your best players coming back. I know you lose one of the good ones, too.
Van Horn: No, I mean, you look back at fall ball and you start from there and you kind of try to figure out how you’re going to piece it together and how are we going to be good enough to compete in the western division of the SEC. We knew if some guys had a good year that we’d be okay. I don’t know that we knew we were going to get here but once the season started going, we started gelling a little bit, guys started getting better, and pitching started working a little bit. Guys then got over some soreness and some little injuries, because we had some of that in late March where we had guys missing weekends, especially relievers but we kept finding ways to win games. We felt like if we got to the best-two-out-of-three, weekend-type, super-regional series that we’d have a chance to get back here. You know, just really proud of the team. Told them that after the game. Told them to walk out of there with their head high. We were real close to winning two games. We ended up losing two one-run games; kind of hard to swallow. But overall it was a really good year, getting a part of the Western Division championship with a really good Mississippi State team, but throughout the year we swept Mississippi State at our place. And getting back here, just proud of them and appreciated the effort they gave us all year. Those guys showed up every day and worked hard, smiled a lot, and it made it fun to work with them. I just appreciate the effort. I’m going to miss Fletcher, that smiling, goofy center fielder. That guy can play with anybody. You know, you think about Trevor Ezell coming in and just really, really solidified our lineup. I’m going to miss that guy, his leadership, and it wasn’t all verbal, it was just by work ethic and toughness. Kenley had an incredible year and he kind of came out of nowhere and we had to have that. I could probably go on and on. A lot of the pitchers, as well. Campbell, you only get one or two of those guys every now and then. I’ve had one the last two years. We’re going to have to find somebody or somebody has got to try to become that guy if we’re going to have an opportunity to make it this far next year. It was a good year. I know there’s a lot of people back home disappointed, but probably like me, if they just take a step back and take a breath and kind of realize what we replaced and how we did after we replaced all those players, it was a pretty good year.
Scores, schedule and latest news | Updated bracket | Print your bracket
Predictions | CWS schedule | How often each seed makes the CWS
Latest highlights & features | Shop CWS gear
Full CWS championship history