NCAA Los Angeles Regional
Saturday, June 2
University of San Diego Toreros
Rich Hill, Head Coach
First of all, give credit to Creighton for the way they came out. They really swung the bats and I think their pitcher (Liska) did a good job keeping us off balance. They’re a well coached team. Very fundamentally sound and they’re at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to team defense just about every year. Their shortstop made a couple of nice line drive snags and overall they did a good job. On the flip side, it’s hard to summarize our season. Anytime you can win 40 games on the West Coast it’s an excellent season and a milestone season. We had a great group of seniors led by the guy on my left, captain Paul Sewald. The leadership was just unbelievable all year long. We fought through a lot of adversity, had some great moments and had some tough moments. But again, phenomenal season. You never like to end it this way but there’s only one team that’s happy at the end of this deal. I’m real proud of our guys.
(on what the season being finished)
Well, it’s the NCAA Tournament. It happens in basketball and in baseball. There’s just a feeling of elation on selection Monday and we had a great week of practice and then it can be over in a cloud of dust. So there’s a wide range of emotions that happen with that. Like I said our culture at USD baseball is built around just being in the moment. The future doesn’t really exist, the past is the past and the best is yet to come but it’s a pitch by pitch deal. When you have that ice water splashed in your face, this thing’s over, seniors are moving on, juniors going to pro ball, it takes some time to digest.
(on the last month)
I think that we just weren’t firing on all cylinders. We haven’t really examined a rhyme or reason for any of that. We’re just immersed in the moment, trying to get better each day. I think it’s a combination of playing some really good teams. The opponents in the NCAA Tournament are outstanding. The West Coast Conference was as good as I’ve ever seen it in my 19 years. So a combination of the opponents and guys just not feeling a rhythm that contributed to the last month.
(on how this season met his expectations)
I go into the season thinking of it as a blank canvas. It’s a dry erase board with nothing written on it. That first weekend against Sam Houston State, I had butterflies because I just didn’t know what we had. This season was a mystery going in and like I said guys like Paul Sewald willed this team to gel. We really didn’t play defense all year. Our starting pitching was solid, if not spectacular and our offense was up and down. The leadership, the intangibles, the chemistry is what Torero baseball is all about. I think that we just willed ourselves to that 40 win plateau.
(on how he feels going into next season)
I love the word hope. It’s one of the best words in sports. I’m extremely optimistic. When you have one of the best position players in the country coming back, in your program, with potentially guys like Mike Wagner, Dylan Covey and three freshman that are on the All-Freshman team and a great recruiting class coming in while opening up a new ballpark, the sky is the limit for Torero baseball. We have a lot of traditions, it’s not just about baseball. When you lose that last game, you find out what people are really all about and they share and talk. Seniors get to just go and it’s pretty powerful. But the one thing that gets through is that there’s one place you want to end your season and that’s Omaha, Nebraska.
Kris Bryant, So., 3B
(on what went wrong at the plate)
Swinging at bad pitches among other things, but sometimes it just goes that way. You can’t go out there and mash every single game. Sometimes teams just go into a slump and we went into one at the wrong time.
(on whether he felt the team pressed as the game went on)
I don’t feel we were pressed at all. We’ve had games this year where we’ve come from behind and one that comes to me off the top of my head is UC Riverside. We came back in the eighth and there’s just something special about this team this year. There was always a chance we could come back and it just didn’t happen today.
Paul Sewald, Sr. RHP
(on his start)
Obviously it’s not how I drew it up. But you know what, I went out there with a good game plan and it just didn’t really work for me. I kept making pitches where some were good and some got hit and some were bad. That’s what comes with pitching. Obviously I’m disappointed but I went out there, had the right game plan and I just didn’t get it done. It happens.
Ed Servais, Head Coach
One thing we wanted to do today was get off to a fast start. Obviously last night we did not, getting down 3-0 after two. I thought it was very, very important to get off to a fast start. Sometimes it’s a tough game for both teams to play. We understand that it’s a long road to get to a championship-type situation. I think it started with our leadoff hitter. He had a tremendous at bat, got on base and then we took off from there. I’m very pleased with how the team played today. I think this is what we’re capable of doing more so than what we did last night.
(on responding after last night’s loss)
This is nothing compared to what these guys went through in April. For them to have another opportunity to play in a Regional setting like this, there’s no doubt in my mind that we played well and I think they played even better than I anticipated. It was a tremendous start and I think we took the wind out of San Diego a little bit with our start. It was exactly what we needed.
(on the progression of Shane Liska)
You know we needed someone to step up in that rotation. I can still remember that first weekend at Arkansas Little-Rock and it was Sunday and we wanted Shane to have some work so we asked him to throw one inning, and look at how far he’s come from pitching one inning on a Sunday, to being our Saturday starter who gives us five, six, and in some cases seven quality innings. That just shows you that if you stay the course, keep working and keep believing in yourself that opportunities are going to take place. Then when you get an opportunity, you seize it. Shane’s opportunity really came against a Missouri State, the first weekend of the conference, and he threw three quality innings that day. Ever since then he’s been a big part of our pitching staff. So he deserves a lot of credit for just plugging along and doing what we ask him to do.
(on the defense)
I think the defensive stuff is there. I don’t even worry about it. When we commit an error it’s like a newsflash. The last seven games I think we’ve committed one error, and these are critical games. These aren’t games that don’t mean anything. They’re conference tournament, regional playoff games. So I don’t worry too much about what we can do defensively. I know they’ll be there.
(on the offense)
Offensively this is what we’ve got to do. We have to continue to attack the ball. We had fewer strikeouts tonight. We had some two-out base hits. These are all things that we’re missing so much in our tough stretch in April that we seem now to be doing now over the last several games. This is what they’re capable of doing. A lot of people think that our hitters are just playing above themselves a little but I don’t believe that. I think it’s what they’ve been capable of doing from the get go and it just took us a little longer to get going than any of us wanted to.
Anthony Bemboom, Sr., C
(on the first few innings)
Brad’s (Brad McKewon) at bat started the tone for us, having him see a lot of pitches allowed us in the dugout to see more pitches from that starting pitcher. Those first two innings were huge for us. Having good at bats, staying flat to the ball and limiting our fly balls as compared to last night.
(on focusing more on hitting line drives)
Yeah that was definitely our approach. To not put the ball on the ground and hit hard line drives. That was our approach today and while it’s our approach every day, we emphasized that a little more today.
(on how the team has built confidence at the plate over the last few weeks)
I think that just stringing good at bats together. I think everyone’s feeling pretty comfortable at the plate these last couple weeks. It’s definitely good to put a lot of runs up on the board consistently and I think last week helped out a lot. To do that today again was huge for us.
(on how this win sets them up going forward)
I think we’ve just got to take it one game at a time. Not look too far ahead but I with a win like this today I think it gives us a little more boost and a little more confidence going into tomorrow.
Shane Liska, Sr., RHP
(on his success today)
A lot of that was making pitches. I usually rely a lot on my cutter but I was able to get a couple of changeups and breaking balls over. Kind of at the end there, I was able to throw fastballs a little more consistently and keeping them off balance, that was the biggest thing and letting my defense work.
(on getting an early lead from the offense)
Whenever we get the lead, it’s pretty crucial to throw zeros up there. That’s my only goal. Go out there and throw zeros up. I don’t care how I got it but I just want to keep throwing zeros up to keep momentum in our dugout. The hitters are doing a great job of getting on base and getting runs so I feel like that’s my job to go up there and throw zeros up.