THE MODERATOR: We’ll introduce from left to right in his 12th season at Vanderbilt making his second trip to the College World Series, head coach Tim Corbin. In his eighth season at Louisville, making his third trip to the College World Series as a head coach, Dan McDonnell. Our next coach is in his seventh season at UC Irvine making his fifth appearance at the College World Series, including winning the title in 2001 with USC, UC Irvine’s Mike Gillespie. And finally, making his 15th appearance as a head coach at the CWS with three national titles with Cal State Fullerton and two with Texas, Longhorn Skipper Augie Garrido. We would ask each of you to begin with an opening statement, and I’ll ask first Dan McDonnell to begin.
DAN McDONNELL: We’re going youngest, I guess, in order. That’s sort of a joke. We’re honored to be here. Obviously want to congratulate the other seven schools here. We know how difficult it is to get here and how much parity there is in college baseball. But really proud to represent the University of Louisville and our great fan base. Got a great group of kids playing hard, great coaches, and a fabulous administration. This is an honor for us, and we’re really excited to be here again.
TIM CORBIN: Likewise, we’re very excited to be here. It’s our second time. We were here in 2011 with a new group, and this group is new, too. We have two kids who were on that team that were red shirted, so they didn’t get to experience this, but we’re certainly, after going through the SEC season and going through the tournament, thankful and fortunate to get through teams like Oregon and Stanford. We’re playing well, and hopefully continue to do so.
MIKE GILLESPIE: I feel like we’re the party crashers but glad to do it. UC Irvine I think as probably everybody in the room knows was here without me in ’07 I think that was, so only a couple of our coaches were on that team, none of our players, of course, were here at that time. We’ve had an interesting road to get here. It’s been exciting. We feel like we’re a team that, like I suppose most coaches would feel if we pitch it pretty good and we catch it, then we’ve got a chance. I will tell you this, that Omaha, the College World Series, is dramatically different place from the last time I was here, and this event, which was great then, I can promise you, has blown up by 500. It’s a spectacular opportunity, and I’m really, really glad our players get to experience this. This is sensational.
AUGIE GARRIDO: I think our story starts
with the end of last season and when Mark Payton,
our senior center fielder, and Nate Thornhill, the
senior pitcher, decided to forego their opportunity
for another year in professional baseball for the
sake of the team. We had a rough year during that
period of time. I was reminded that the team had
finished last in the conference since 1956, and so
they came back, and I did ask the question, I don’t
know what happened in ’56, but what happened to
them in ’57, and they said they went to Omaha.
And Mark and Nate paved the way for this to
The other great thing that I think both of
them taught the rest of our players, and we do start
three freshman position players, what they have to
give up to be able to move forward as a baseball
team. All of teams in this tournament have found
the oneness that it takes to be able to execute and
trust that their teammates will depend on each
other to get the job done, or they wouldn’t be here.
But Mark and Nate are the ones that set the tone.
I heard several of our players talk during their press conferences about how much that
impressed them and made it mandatory for
everyone on the team to be unselfish, and that’s
how we got here.
I’m also thankful for the fact that those
freshmen, Mark and Nate, are the only two that
were here in 2011, and now we have probably six
freshmen on the team that will be able to provide
invaluable leadership to create their own journey to
Q. First of all, coaches, congratulations
for getting here to Omaha. I asked this
question to the other coaches earlier. Just
your thoughts on the style of defense that you
play, speed in the outfield, arm strength, and
your inner diamond, as well, shortstop, second
baseman, catcher and center field as far as
your defense and what that means to advance
here and get to the two out of three.
MIKE GILLESPIE: Well, I really don’t think
that we’re unique with any defensive philosophy. I
mean, I think, again, like everybody, it’s certainly a
goal to limit extra opportunities for our opponent.
They get three outs, it’s not just about outs, it’s
about extra bases, it’s about balks and wild
pitches, and it’s not always just theirs, it’s about
extra chances that people get.
When we’ve been successful while we’ve
been able to accomplish that, that doesn’t always
Our outfield play I think is solid. Our
center fielder can go get the ball in center field,
and certainly — and I do think that the two guys that
play left field and right field are skilled and capable.
They’re not guys that can really fly, but they run
decent, and in this park it’s pretty evident that you
do need to be able to go get it.
Our junior shortstop, Chris Rabago, has
been a real good player for us for two years, and
he typically is very, very, very consistent, and he
provides leadership around the diamond for us
The second baseman is solid. That’s
Grant Palmer. We play a couple other guys there,
depending on substitutions and that kind of thing.
And our catcher, a fourth year junior, Jerry
McClanahan, is certainly the guy that kind of runs
that pitching staff, and he’s done very well for us.
He’s been one of the key players for us.
We feel reasonably good about our
defense, and certainly we all realize how critical it
is, so it had better be good.
AUGIE GARRIDO: I can say almost the
same thing that Mike just said. We made a rule,
and we hope they follow it, get your outs on time.
It doesn’t matter how, get your outs on time. But I
think Mike described what our team is like, as well,
TIM CORBIN: We’re pretty new
defensively, actually. We have a new outfield, a
new second baseman, a new first baseman, and
the catching has fallen in the hands of two
freshman kids right now. I would say we
progressively have fielded the ball better during the
course of the season. We play a lot of games on
turf, so we should, no mystery in that hop, but
we’ve handled the ball relatively well. We’ve got
some pitchers that get off the mound well, too.
I like our shortstop play. It’s a kid who’s
only made four errors all year, and the second
baseman is very athletic and probably could play
shortstop for us, but he’s kind of grown into that
second base position, so I’m pleased with how we
DAN McDONNELL: We’ve got two senior
catchers in Gibson and Crain that got to play in
Omaha last year along with a talented freshman in
Will Smith. Our middle infield, Sutton Whiting and
Zach Lucas, two juniors that I think are very
talented. The impressive thing about Sutton
Whiting, he went through a slump about a month
ago where I didn’t realize it was like an 0 for 30
slump, but you would have never known that.
Played great defense. That’s tough for amateurs,
not take their bat to the field and not expose their
struggles. Alex Chittenden, senior third baseman,
has played great. I’ve got two first base mens in
Danny Rosenbaum and Grant Kay, and in the
outfield Jeff Gardner is the left fielder, but our other
five guys who run around the outfield are center
fielders, Cole Sturgeon, Corey Ray, Colin Lyman,
Mike White and Logan Taylor. The emphasis of
defense has been increased in our program with
the change of the bats, and I’m not a big fielding
percentage guy, but to me it’s when you make
errors as opposed to when you make plays is what
really matters. So hopefully we’ll continue to play
Q. Curious if you guys in both
matchups feel like you play kind of a similar
style of play as your opponent here. Obviously
you guys are familiar with each other from last
year and you guys have a long history together
I think as coaches. Do you feel like there are
similarities with your styles, and if so, how
does that impact these matchups?
AUGIE GARRIDO: Mike is a lot more
daring than I am. He’ll push the envelope where I
won’t, and I think that’s what kind of separates it,
and what I mean by that is the squeeze bunts that
he uses and the other things that he uses to
manufacture runs goes beyond the types of things
that I do. Outside of that, it’s about the same thing.
MIKE GILLESPIE: One of my not so fond
memories was in 1995, the college team that I was
with lost to Cal State Fullerton when Augie was the
head coach there, and I distinctly remember that
Mark Kotsay was on that team, and I also
remember that as outstanding a player as he was
and outstanding of a hitter as he was, he hit
second in the lineup and sacrificed, and he
sacrificed in the first inning. And what I came to
realize about that was that it was an immediate
valuable contribution. Any player that executes a
skill that moves a runner comes to realize and
feels, actually, I think a sense of accomplishment
with that immediate execution of a skill.
It really for me was a valuable lesson in
unselfishness, and it’s something that I’ve always
kept in mind because if Mark Kotsay, who was at
the time the best, the best, player in college
baseball could accept those roles, hey, listen, he
got his at-bats, he got his swings, he hit his home
runs, and he was, I think, in my view, of course he
was Augie’s player at the time but I’ve become
familiar with Mark Kotsay over time and he’s an
exceptional person, so it doesn’t surprise me that
he would be that unselfish, but I’ve often thought if
a guy like that would be accepting of those kinds of
team values, well, it was a good lesson for all of
So our players are really made to understand that this is what we have to do. It has to be on anybody to, if a sacrifice is needed and certainly move a runner, give us a productive out,
give up yourself for the sake of the team. I think it
was a great lesson for us, and it’s something that
we’ve had in mind over all these years.
TIM CORBIN: I think when you’re looking
at Louisville, and we’ve played them a bunch
during the past five or six years, there’s some
similarities in pitching staff for sure, always strong
bodied kids who throw the ball well that know how
to execute pitches. From an offensive standpoint,
very athletic, can put pressure on you by the way
they run the bases, the way they steal the bases,
and their kids have a good skill set. Their hitters,
from power hitters to gap to speed guys have the
ability to do a lot of different things, so they can
soften the defense. It becomes difficult to play in a
lot of ways. They force pressure, and as you
know, pressure in this game is very valuable when
it’s applied to the defense and you can’t handle it.
So you do have to be able to pitch to
spots, and you have to contain the running game
in order to keep them down.
DAN McDONNELL: Seems like a lot of
similarities in our lineups. I think when you look at
Vanderbilt and Louisville, I think the balance is
there. They always seem to have a few guys with
power, can hit home runs. They always seem to
have some high stolen base threats in the lineup,
they always seem to have a few guys that can
bunt. Just seems to be 1 through 9 there’s
balance. There’s never really a hole in the lineup
or they’re never one-dimensional in one area.
They seem to be multi-dimensional, and they can
do a little bit of everything, whether that’s try to hit
the doubles or the home runs or maybe even
squeeze or steal a base or just seem to do a little
bit of everything.
Q. When you have guys, players, 18,
19, 20 showing up, seeing this ballpark for the
first time, this environment, any insights just
by you observing them, aha experiences or
words they said that kind of got you excited?
Your thoughts about just observing your team
show up here. They’ve all been on the field
now, too, practicing.
AUGIE GARRIDO: They start trying to hit
home runs. Just can we hit one out of here and
that kind of thing. I don’t think there’s anything
wrong with that. I think they’re having fun, and I
think they know what their hitting plan really is, and
we’ll get back to that when the game starts.
I think the biggest thing that we’ve
established between each other is trust. That goes
a long way in teamwork. This whole thing is about
TIM CORBIN: Well, I just think they’re
kids. There’s going to be a little bit of a tourist
mentality if they’ve been here for the first time. I
don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, either.
But after some hours, maybe 48 hours, you get to
the point where you become Gene Hackman and
you get out the measuring tape and you say this is
the foul line and this is the basket, and it’s the
same all the way around.
I think 18, 19, 20 years old, they just have
to be able to contain their emotions a little bit. But
they are kids, and they will do what they do,
regardless of what you say and how you train
You just hope that they’re able to execute
MIKE GILLESPIE: Well, there’s no
question about the fact that in the case of our
players, they are dazzled by this ballpark and
they’re loving it. They’re excited by it. I think we’d
all be stunned if that was not the case, as both
Augie and Tim have said, and I’m good with that. I
really am. It would be difficult to believe if they
weren’t really drinking it all in. They are. They are
loving it, and naturally I am concerned that once
we see the burnt orange on the other side of the
field and we see the numbers of people in the
stands, I am concerned about can they harness
their emotions. There’s just no question about it.
I’m going to trust that they really do know
who they are and that once the game starts that
they’ll be able to settle down and deal with it and
play to the level that they’re capable of playing.
DAN McDONNELL: I was fortunate to
work with Mike Bianco for six years at Ole Miss,
and of course he’s from the Skip Bertman family. I
was able to watch and learn, hosting regionals or
super regionals. I used to talk to him about the
media attention, and he had such great wisdom.
So we tried to create an atmosphere where we call
it controlled chaos. We’ve got seven little kids on
our staff. I shouldn’t say little because a couple
are in high school, but kids running in and out of
the dugout during the season. We have great
media outlets and support in a city like Louisville,
Kentucky, so you try to create as much of a crazy
atmosphere as you can, but obviously it’s just not
at this level. I do like how both coaches use the
word trust, and the fact that we just keep telling our
kids, keep the main thing the main thing, and let’s
enjoy this and have fun, but at the end of the day,
it’s trying to play good baseball, and hopefully the
experience of coming here last year, still, you’re
going to be impressed and aha’d by everything as I
am, but hopefully you just — you’re a little more
comfortable with it, a little more relaxed, because
at the end of the day, you want to play good
Q. Mike, are your pitching plans to start
MIKE GILLESPIE: Yes. They are.
Q. And as far as the finish of your
season this year, was the team just so loose
and relaxed going into the regional that it
played so well, or was it just so focused to
prove themselves, being one of the last four to
MIKE GILLESPIE: I certainly don’t think it
was a matter of being so loose and relaxed. On
the subject of the way our season ended and our
conference, what I’ve tried to explain, because this
question has come up a lot, and the conference
that we’re in, and Augie has a history in this
conference, so I think he would be familiar with all
these people, that conference is an underrated
conference, and in my experience the conference
this year was maybe the best that it’s ever been
from top to bottom. There were no gimmes in
conference. We knew going in, however, that the
toughest part of the conference was going to be at
the back end because we would play Cal Poly,
Fullerton and Long Beach State, all three of whom
are really good, and all three are capable of having
been here and done well here. We lost eight in a
row to those three teams, and in five of those eight
games, why, we had a lead in the eighth and/or the
ninth. The point of that is that they’re still losses,
but they were dogfights of games. We competed
very, very well with people who were going good
and were good.
So I kind of feel like had we played those
three teams at the very beginning, I’d have a hard
time saying the result wouldn’t have been the
same at the beginning, and if we had the same
result with the people we played at the beginning
at the end, then shoot, we would have been a
strong finisher. Everybody would have said, that’s
a great club the way they’re coming in.
Our players knew that they could compete,
and while it was well-known that it was anything
but a done deal that we would get in, I really felt
that that conference warranted five teams being in,
and certainly four. However, I knew that what
might be right and what might be true might be two
different things, that it was certainly right that we
would get in. I felt we deserved to be in. I don’t
think we have to apologize for being in.
But on the other hand, there was no
denying the truth of the way the last three weeks
went. So we could not by any means take for
granted that we would get in.
Once we got in, we didn’t feel like we were
just playing with house money and let’s just let it all hang out and see how it goes. I think everybody
was genuinely convinced that we’d be able to
compete well, and if we followed the formula that
everybody has, which is pitch and catch it and try
to scratch together some ways to get a few runs,
we might have a chance to really succeed, and
that’s what happened.
Q. For any of the coaches, Texas Tech
against certain barriers will use some dramatic
defensive shifting, put three guys on one side
of an infield, et cetera. I’m wondering how
often you’ve seen that from opponents this
year and whether with your own, maybe using
spray charts or your own scouting whether you
use it yourselves.
TIM CORBIN: I see way more of that on
TV from a Major League standpoint than I do at the
college level, maybe because of the information,
and maybe really because of the unknown of what
our pitcher is going to do. But we don’t do a lot of
dramatic shifting. We don’t overplay too much.
We try to balance the field as best we can based
on the pitcher and based on what we think the
hitter is going to do.
Q. Coach Gillespie, I was wondering if
you could share some insight for us on Andrew
Morales, had the pleasure of seeing him pitch
last year in Stillwater and hearing his
comments and then visiting with him earlier
today on the field. He comes across as a very
appreciative young man, really feels like he
grew up and matured a lot. Wondered if you
could give us some insight, 42-3 in his career
in college baseball. That’s hard to do when
you depend on defense and bullpen and
offensive sport. What’s some of the secrets to
MIKE GILLESPIE: Well, the Reader’s
Digest version is that while he was a successful
pitcher at the high school level, and then went to
community college because he was not recruited,
and not by us, either, by the way, he was always
thought to be too little and didn’t look like they look
and really didn’t have the stuff of a Division I
winning college pitcher.
He was a right-handed 5’11”, 5’10”, high
school probably closer to 5’9″ kid, 150 pounds.
While he could pitch, he was too little, at least he
was perceived to be too little. He went to
community college in Los Angeles, where he just
got gooder. He was better. He won and he kept
winning. His junior college team had a real
successful year his second year, and of all the
wins that he talk about, well, 21 of those were in
Still he was not recruited. He was 5’11”,
he was 87 miles an hour, threw strikes, but the
truth of the matter is he just got missed, and we
missed, too. Actually one of Augie’s former
players, Andy Nieto who coached with me at the
former school where I was had coached against
him in high school and really recommended him,
really pushed him. But it’s one of those deals, your
scholarship money is gone and there’s nothing you
can do so we floated along and had some contact
but there was nothing we could do. Fortunately for
us he was available late, and very late. I’m talking
at the very end of his second year. That’s how we
fortuitously came to have him.
Came to us at still 5’11”, he’s still 5’1″.
He’ll lie to you and tell you he’s 6’1″, but he’s 5’11”,
but the 165 has turned into 192 or 195. This
increased strength has brought with it increased
velocity, increased everything, increased bite on
his breaking ball. He’s always been a very, very
competitive guy, very bright guy, and intensely
competitive I think I should say. He’s been a great
story, he really is.
And I think what you described and what
your conclusion was when you met him today is
really right on. What you saw is what he is. He’s a
special kid, and what’s so — for us what’s among
the really gratifying things is that he was always
too little. He didn’t match up, didn’t look like they
looked, and so he’s always been undrafted.
So it was believable that he would be what
we call a senior draft this year, one of those
money-saving, 10th round kind of guys that would
get $2,000 and go out and play in Staten Island
and maybe get released. But the fact is he pitched
himself above that, and consequently here he is
today as a second-round pick, and even though
he’s a senior he’s going to get himself a nice little
paycheck, and that’s good to see.
Q. Mike has already announced his pitcher for tomorrow, but could the other three coaches announce their starters?
TIM CORBIN: Yes, right-handed pitcher Carson Fulmer. He’s a sophomore.
DAN McDONNELL: Sophomore, right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser.
AUGIE GARRIDO: We’ll start Nate Thornhill. He’s a senior, and he’s right-handed.
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