Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan and LSU coach Paul Mainieri following Monday night’s 4-3 win by the Gators in Game 1 of the best-of-three College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s opening statement: “Well, it kind of worked out the way we kind of hoped it would. Brady (Singer) would go deep in the ballgame and we wouldn’t have to extend Michael Byrne, he would still be available tomorrow.
“But Brady was outstanding. Obviously that one inning I think with two runners on with nobody out and struck out the side was huge. Get 12 strikeouts tonight. Threw seven. I think it was probably similar to Alex Faedo’s start the other day where there was some tense moments where he had to make some big pitches, and he battled and gave it all he had.
“And Michael Byrne did what Michael Byrne always does, throws strikes, change speeds. And I think the key play there obviously was when we got Smith at second in the relay play and then the pinch-hitter when he fell behind 3-0. Obviously offensively the big hit was Jonathan India’s double to centerfield with two runners on and Austin Langworthy hits the ball in the gap, we brought him over, we get him in and we hit a short fly ball there with 2-0 count, end up scoring a run there.
“Once again, we do just enough to stay ahead. I think that’s maybe our 20th one-run (win) of the year, I don’t know how many, but there’s been quite a few. And it’s been a long time since we played LSU. And it’s a really good lineup, a really good lineup. I forgot how good it was.”
Q. Brady looked like he was mixing things up after the first time through the order. LSU guys say he started throwing some more of those backdoor sliders. Was that part of the plan going in? Is that something you guys recognized mid-game?
COACH O’SULLIVAN: “Yeah, you know, the unique thing about Alex and Brady, they can do a lot of different things with their breaking ball. They can backdoor it to lefties, backfoot it to lefties.
“I just thought that the LSU hitters were really on time for fastballs tonight, and it was the one inning where (Antoine) Duplantis got on and (Greg) Deichmann got on and they were on some pretty good fastballs. And at that point we just had to slow the ball down a little bit.”
Q. I know that obviously haven’t finished yet, but just the significance of this historically first College World Series Finals win and just what it means for this program going forward?
COACH O’SULLIVAN: “We’re here to win this thing. You know, that’s the message — we’ll talk more about it tomorrow. We’re going to have to play better if we want to win this thing. And this thing is not near — it’s not nearly over. We’ve got six hits tonight. Brady had to pitch his tail off.
“We have a freshman going tomorrow against the winningest pitcher in LSU’s history. We’re going to have to play better. So is it exciting to have Game 1 under our belt, yeah, but tomorrow we’re going to have to play better.
“And that’s the message. And we’re going to have to swing the bats a little bit better. And we’re going to have to get to (Jared) Poché in the first part of the ballgame, and we’re going to have to get a special start from Tyler (Dyson).
“He’s certainly capable. But, you know, we’re close but we haven’t finished.
LSU Coach Paul Mainieri’s opening statement: “Well, great game. It was a close game. Great game. My feelings are that we went up against who I believe to be maybe the best pitcher I’ve seen in the SEC for an opponent since I’ve been the coach at LSU. He reminds me so much of Aaron Nola it’s scary.
“He was good. Tough pitcher. I know he had a lot of strikeouts but I thought our guys battled him and battled him. I don’t know how many hits we had against him. Had to be about seven, eight, nine, I don’t know, nine hits against him. We had a couple of situations if we had been able to take more advantage of, we would have been able to overcome it. But when you think about we went against one of the best pitchers in the country, I think the guy will be the first pick in the draft next year, and we were having to piece it together with our bullpen guys, it was amazing we were right there and had a chance to win. Our kids played their hearts out. I think we played well in most areas. We had a couple of mistakes and probably hurt us a little bit.
“But our kids left it all out there on the field, played their hearts out and we just came up a little bit short tonight. It’s comforting to know that we still have Jared Poché going tomorrow fully rested. If we’re fortunate enough to win tomorrow night, we’ve got Alex Lange waiting. We don’t think the series is over by a long stretch. We’re excited about playing tomorrow (Tuesday) and hopefully we can have a little bit more luck on our side tomorrow.
Q. The play in the bottom of the eighth where you got (Josh) Smith thrown out at second base, I assume that’s not a reviewable play, and also did you think he was safe?
COACH MAINIERI: “You’re correct. It’s not a reviewable play. You know, the ball beat him. I don’t know if Josh with his swim move got around it or not. I haven’t seen the video of it.
“But I think a lot of people thought he was safe. But I couldn’t tell from where I was.”
Q. Coach, to get three really strong innings out of Russell (Reynolds) there to start the game, I’m sure you felt pretty good. What was your plan? How far were you hoping to ride him and obviously kind of escalated there quickly?
COACH MAINIERI: “Okay. You know, Russell did a really great job there the first three innings. And, man, obviously hindsight is 20/20. If you would have told me before the game we would get three shutout innings from him to start the game, I would have been pleased. I got a little greedy there and tried to get an extra inning out of him, and we still had a long way to go and not a lot of options coming out of the bullpen. And I just thought, if nothing else, Russell is a strike thrower, and he ends you walking three guys in a row.
“In hindsight I probably would have started the inning with (Nick) Bush. I’m sure everybody would have disagreed with that because we had shut them out for three innings, but I knew in my heart if we got three good ones out of him, I should have been pleased. I’ll take the blame for that. I tried to stick with him for too long and it backfired.”
Q. Talk about in the fourth inning where Florida just scored, your first two batters singled and Singer was able to come back and strike out the next —
COACH MAINIERI: “Yeah, I think Antoine’s kind of kicking himself a little bit for not taking third on that ball. I think he just felt that he didn’t want to get thrown out at third base with nobody out. I think if he had to do it all over again, he would have taken a shot and taken third base there.
“I think the centerfielder was actually conceding third base and was throwing to second. Antoine hesitated for a slight second. He thought the prudent thing to do would be to stop. Who knows what would have happened if runners were first and third. Anything could have got us one run there.
“But he raised his game, Singer, and he got out of it, and give credit to him. I can’t say it enough. He’s tough. I respect him as much as any pitcher out there.”
Q. Can you just speak to this team being in the situation, been in the situation recently, had to beat a really good Oregon State team to get here. Can you speak on that?
COACH MAINIERI: “We’re not going to hang our heads tonight. I thought our kids competed as hard as they could and they left it all out there on the field. And we were just a hair short.
“And like I said going into the game, it was a tough matchup for us, and we knew that. And our kids didn’t give up. They believed that they could do it.
“And we just came up a little bit short tonight. Going forward, tomorrow, our kids, they’re confident. They’re going to go out there and play hard. We respect the University of Florida, but we feel like we’re right there with them. And we’ve got one of our guys going tomorrow. Jared Poché has been a warrior for us for four years.”
Quotes courtesy of ASAP Sports