College World Series: Lexington Regional

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Indiana State Sycamores

Mitch Hannahs

Randal Diaz

Dominic Listi

Postgame Press Conference


Indiana State 6, Western Michigan 4

MITCH HANNAHS: Obviously this time of year it’s survive and advance. I thought we did a really good job coming out of the gate offensively. I thought we did a poor job down the stretch of putting them away when we had opportunity.

But I was really pleased with what Cam Edmonson gave us out of the back of the pen.

Thought Luke Hayden was good at times. You look up and they got three hits and three runs. I just thought we walked too many guys, hit a few guys and gave them every opportunity to stay in the game.

Q. Dom, talk about the approach early in the game. Offensively you guys barrelled up on a lot of Vlcek’s pitches. What was the general approach you guys took?

DOMINIC LISTI: Yeah, yesterday I thought we had a pretty poor approach, so today I was just trying to be simple to the baseball, hitting line drives, having good at-bats from our whole team 1 to 9, and I think we were able to do that from early in the game, like Coach said.

Q. Randal, you were able to get a single right off the bat. How much do you think that helped? On the other side of things, Western Michigan made a few pitching changes; offensive momentum slowed down. What do you think got you going, and what do you think kept you from keep going?

RANDAL DIAZ: After last night I knew I had to come today. I knew I was the first hitter. I knew I had to start leading off my team. I had the responsibility the whole year, so I knew I had to make an adjustment right away.

Q. What made it tough later in the game as Western made some pitching changes?

RANDAL DIAZ: They had good pitchers. This time of the year, everyone is good. I think there were a couple times we did a good job at the beginning, so that helped us later in the game.

Q. Randal, after last night’s game you said that you were going to bring the energy and make sure you guys started out hot, and you did. What did you tell the team to get them going early in the game?

RANDAL DIAZ: I mean, for me, it’s an everyday thing. I always try to make everybody just laugh a little bit, keep the energy all the time. Sometimes it can bring up crazy or something like that. I just need my team to be live wires all the time, so they can’t think about what’s going to happen after or not. We live in the moment. Let’s keep battling the whole game.

Q. For both of you, as Cam comes in and he’s throwing strikes, what does that do for you guys defensively when you know a strike is coming, it keeps you on your toes, as opposed to Luke was good, flashed good, but there was walks hit by pitches and that takes you defensively out of the rhythm a little bit.

RANDAL DIAZ: I mean, that help us a lot to just with positioning, all that, so obviously it’s going to make it easier. We’re a team we work a lot on the defensive stuff so if he’s spotting the spots, obviously it’s going to be easier for us.

DOMINIC LISTI: He did an outstanding job just attacking the zone today. Like Randal said, we’re a good defensive team, and it gets us into the game, gets us talking. Gets us ready to make plays, and I think that will carry us over to the offensive side because I don’t think we’ve played our best baseball yet.

Q. Dom, when you’re riding out a tense game like that late in the game and then you get an interference reversal on the baseline, the line-out, double play, what are those types of plays like when the momentum of the game is kind of in the balance and you can feel them coming at you a little bit? What do those types of plays mean in the dugout?

DOMINIC LISTI: Yeah, I think you just have to settle down and have poise in those situations and understand there’s going to be swings of momentum in playoff baseball and just baseball in general.

That’s going to happen in these good games. It’s the fine details. Things like that are going to happen, but how are we going to be able to get the momentum back on our side.

And I think when we’re going well, we do a very good job of maintaining our poise and being able to attack the next pitch in the right mindset.

Q. Dom, you touched on it you guys haven’t played your best baseball yet. How do you use this going into tomorrow?

DOMINIC LISTI: Definitely. I mean, like Coach Hannahs said, it’s survive and advance right now, so we were able to advance. We get another opportunity tomorrow and have to come ready with the same mindset and try to enhance our capabilities and be ready to win another ballgame.

Q. Mitch, (indiscernible) what do you think was the key to that, and what do you think kind of went away as the game went along?

MITCH HANNAHS: Well, I think with the first guy, obviously he’s a top of the zone guy, likes to throw to the top. I thought we did a really good job of staying on top of the baseball at the top of the zone. I thought that was the key to getting him out of there. I thought as they moved down the line a little bit, I thought the approaches were a little poor. I thought we had guys trying to pull a baseball that was soft and moving away from us. I think that comes from being a little anxious.

Then I thought there were some moments we had some pitches to hit and missed them. There in that last inning when Mike took the walk, he got that hanging breaking ball and normally that’s a pitch that he doesn’t miss.

I think it was good to get the lead, but I still felt like we’ve got a few guys trying to do a little too much in some of those situations.

Q. Some momentum plays really as the game went along, the double play, the runner’s interference call. You hate to have it come down to that, but you’re thankful when they happen. What was the mood in the dugout when those occurred?

MITCH HANNAHS: Well, I think obviously the running play, I think if we had the other base out there, I think that’s an out.

I think he’s over there the whole time, and I think that throw can get to our first baseman instead of running inside the line, and I think that’s a really dangerous play inside the line, and I think that’s a really dangerous play. We’re fortunate no one got hurt in that situation. I think the other thing is Luis Hernández made a great play on that line drive. I think sometimes someone thinks they’re making plays that really diminish innings and really take the wind out of another team, and I think we had a play or two like that today.

The one was the baserunning thing. The other was just a really good play by Luis at first base, and I’m not sure early in the season with him learning first base if we make that play.

Q. What was the key to Cam battling his way through those four and two-thirds innings? None of them were easy, but he did manage to fight his way out of some trouble.

MITCH HANNAHS: I think the key, he got a couple strike out lookings when he crossed the plate inside, and I think his ability to get on the inner third once in a while really helped him. I think we called the fastball in there to Richmond, thought we had him sitting slider, slider, slider because we had thrown a bunch of them and he left it out over the middle of the plate.

Credit to them. It seems like every time that we didn’t locate we got hurt by that front four or five guys. But I think his key was just getting ahead, and then when he wasn’t always ahead, he could still land a strike. 2-1 he could still throw whatever pitch.

I think that’s important in college baseball right now with everyone turning up the velocity and trying to strip fastballs. You’ve got to be able to grab any pitch 2-1, 3-1. I think that’s the key to keeping people in the park.

Q. Only using two pitchers today, talk about that.

MITCH HANNAHS: That’s one of the things you sit there as the coach and you think, man, I want to push him through, but then you let it go and in the last inning you’re really kicking yourself for going to your pen.

So I think you’re on a balancing wire right there. Do you leave him in — he’s throwing well, but at the same time we kept calling down to the bullpen because I wanted velocity for Richmond. We got Cole Gilley sent down there, 93, 94, that if anyone would have been on base he would have been coming because I wanted velocity to those next three or four guys. I didn’t want to take our chances with 89, 90. I wanted mid 90s.

Q. I think it was the fourth inning Luke started getting in trouble. Hit a guy, has two walks, bases loaded nobody out. Pitching coach goes out there. What were you guys seeing in the dugout, and what was said to Luke? Because he got out of the inning relatively unscathed.

MITCH HANNAHS: Well, number one, we told him he loaded the bases. That’s first and foremost. I mean, make somebody hit you. He gets in that mode where he starts trying to do too much pulling off. When his fastball starts taking off and you see that front side pulling out, it’s been detrimental to him.

But credit to him. Again, I don’t know early in the year that he works out of that. I think that’s something he’s growing a lot. He’s gotten a lot better at being calm.

I think again, the only thing — we’re 3-2 with a five-run lead and he shakes and throws another slider. Again, that’s a young guy chasing, trying to fool guys when his fastball was good enough just to get out there and throw it at guys and make them beat you.

I really felt like Justin went out and the message was, hey, you’re beating yourself, man. You’ve got to settle in and get some strikes and try to get a ball right now on the turf for a double play to work out of this.

Fortunately for the most part he worked out of it except for the walk to make it 6-2. That’s part of his growing as a pitcher. Last week he didn’t have any traffic and did a really good job, but sometimes when guys get on with him, he wants to throw 100 instead of just pitching, which is what I thought Crowder did really well last night. He was pitching at that velocity, not throwing.

I think that was the message, just settle in and relax and try to pound the zone here.

Q. Pulling on that thread a little bit, he obviously labored that inning. I think the next inning you got two quick outs on two or three pitches, you call an offensive time-out. Is that to make sure you’re getting some extra time?

MITCH HANNAHS: Yeah, just trying to give him some time. I felt like we went — I think it was first pitch, the foul out, and then we went 1-0, ground ball to second. It was so quick that we just used that as long as we could to get him some time.

Obviously he was laboring and we needed to at least let him catch a breath in between innings.

Q. Do you have an idea what the pitching plan is for tomorrow?

MITCH HANNAHS: Yeah, I think most likely, unless something changes, we’ll start Cutts tomorrow.

Q. Anyone from yesterday or today available?

MITCH HANNAHS: Pruitt will be available tomorrow, Gregersen will be available tomorrow. I think for the most part — and we’ll see how Spencer feels coming back. I think all of those guys are possibilities.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Western Michigan Broncos

Billy Gernon

Greg Budig

Randal Diaz

Postgame Press Conference


Indiana State 6, Western Michigan 4.

BILLY GERNON: I’ll just open with what I told our players at the end of the game, that new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings, and that’s what we’re experiencing right now, is a painful ending.

But I also reminded them that we’re going to get together here shortly, and these two guys will be part of helping us design our championship rings that we more than deserve and more than earned. So I look forward to that opportunity with these two outstanding young men that have been part of my leadership council for a couple of years.

I’ll personally thank them in front of you guys today for helping keep the outside out and the inside in, and in today’s world that’s even more tough to do, but these guys have been incredible ambassadors and will go on and be great Broncos and potential donors. (Laughter.)

Q. Greg, Coach talked about the leadership council yesterday, and as a catcher, it’s just intrinsic that you have to take on by your position. Talk about what this year has been like, winning the MAC tournament championship, running through that tournament, and then playing in a regional?

GREG BUDIG: It was a great feeling obviously the whole season. I feel like from a leadership position it’s great to be able to see a lot of guys grow over the years and to kind of help them through that, obviously along with the coaching.

But to see guys grow like that and then perform through the tournament like that and come here and play hard, that’s what we did. Just really proud, and like Coach said, the catcher you can see the entire field, so you kind of have to get put in that leadership position, and I feel like I’ve grown along with it and helped a lot of guys out this year.

Q. What were you seeing from the pitchers today, particularly Luke Thelan who threw very well today. What were you seeing from behind the plate in terms of him in particular attacking the hitters today?

GREG BUDIG: Him in particular, it’s just one of those guys that I’ve said has had tremendous growth. This is the first year he’s really completely dominated some guys, and it showed today.

But I mean, his stuff, when he’s on, he’s on. He’s going to strike a lot of guys out. He’s not off very often.

Just the growth that he’s had this year and the past few years has been great to see.

Q. Cade, you’ve been with this program and you’ve accomplished quite a bit individually and as a team. What has this season meant to you to get a MAC championship ring, to represent the region in the MAC and a regional?

CADE SULLIVAN: That’s been our goal for the last few years, we just wanted to get rings, and to finally come out with one was pretty amazing. I was just thinking only one team in college baseball goes out on top, and the rest are feeling like we’re feeling right now.

It’s just tough to go out with a group of brothers that you’ve been with the last four years. But I guess life goes on.

Q. Coach mentioned you didn’t come here, you guys didn’t come here to just have a good showing. I know you wanted to win, but two games in a row you fell down early, and what I was most impressed with is the lack of quit. What do you do as leaders to make sure you guys stay up? You were in both of these games until the last out. What do you guys do as leaders to make sure that that energy doesn’t fall behind when you guys fall behind?

CADE SULLIVAN: I kind of touched on it a little bit yesterday, just the attitude in the dugout that we’re never out of it no matter what the score is, 10-0, if we’re down 20-0. You’ve just got to treat every single pitch like it’s a 0-0 ballgame.

When you have that attitude, you can string together at-bats and get runs on the board and make the game close.

GREG BUDIG: I would say it’s kind of the mentality we’ve had all year. Very few times are you just going to be able to come into a game and not going to get punched in the mouth and get hit hard.

Unfortunately the last two days it was early, but if you know it’s going to come, you’re always ready for it, and you get hit in the mouth and you’re going to have to punch back. That’s kind of the attitude we’ve had as a team the last few days and I would say the whole year, as well.

BILLY GERNON: Can I say one thing real quick about these guys? I don’t know that this guy has never not had a 4.0 and this guy is a finance major, and they exemplify what leadership is, what the student-athlete is, and academically they’ve led our team to a 3.5 GPA we’re pushing like 12 plus semesters in a row.

These guys for me — you get into coaching because you want to impact people’s lives, and just like anything else, if you give, you usually get more back. I want to publicly thank these guys for having such a profound impact on my life right here in front of everybody. So proud of you guys.

Q. You talked yesterday, again — similar question. You talked about not coming here to just put on a valiant effort. You wanted to win, and that showed. How do you feel about your performance here today or this weekend?

BILLY GERNON: Well, it’s bittersweet, right. It’s an oxymoron to be disappointed and proud, but I am those things because there was this expectation and there has been all year. We’ve actually been training just a lot of different things all year, and one of them was just the adaptability.

Sometimes we wouldn’t hang a practice schedule, sometimes we’d hang it and change it and just try to get guys used to the difference, because in the Mac and in the Midwest, it might be sunny on Friday and 50 and you might have four inches of snow on Saturday and you might hit inside, you might hit outside.

I think in the Midwest you really have to be adaptable and be adjustable and just fight through a lot of things, and what they’re saying when you ask about what do we do, well, we’re kind of conditioned and trained to that. We hung six straight zeros after we were able to settle the dust, and uniquely we’ve been hanging our hat on quality starts from Miller and Vlcek, and they’ve been doing it all year.

I’ve called these guys boys with beards for many years. They look like men because they’re bigger and physical, but they’re still young guys, and they make mistakes, and you saw it at the end.

You know how much pain C.J. is in because of that.

But they’re just such a special group. For me as a coach to know that you don’t have to go down there and light a fire or give a motivational speech in the dugout, that your team is calm and they’re poised and they can take punches but you know they’re going to be swinging, we did that.

If there’s a silver lining in this weekend, that their legacy — the words in our program are trust, unconditional trust now with the portal, legacy and championships, and their legacy embedded in my soul and on their teammates, and they’re going to pass that down.

That’s what helps manifest and keep a culture vibrant, when guys like this pass that type of attitude down to the players that are waiting, and that’s what makes me feel so good about the guys that I get to coach.

Q. Two pivotal plays in the game. One I think was the runner’s interference in the sixth inning, so I want to get your thoughts on that. Then there was a double up on a hard line drive to first base. Really kind of changed the momentum of the game. What were your thoughts on those plays?

BILLY GERNON: Well, even before that we had bases loaded and we were able to draw a walk. The big hit was elusive this weekend. It has not been all year. These three guys, and Greg has had a great offensive year, too, and Dylan, and the numbers we put up, you start to expect the big hit, and we didn’t get it.

To your question, though, that led into the L-3, which was a rocket into the double play, which was tough, but I thought the bunt for Harrity, you’ve got to trust the guy in the booth I think in Pittsburgh, but that’s not what we saw and that’s not how we had it, and Harrity was very adamant because this happened to us in the fall when we were playing a fall game and we were shocked by it.

So we spent time in baserunning because we got burned by it in a fall game, which is what you want to happen, right.

So we worked on that.

Like I told the umpires yesterday when they gave a sportsmanship warning about something that happened, I just said, I trust my player, and I trust my player on this, but they obviously saw it and they made the call, and it was a reviewable call, and that’s the way it sits. But that flipped the card big time, and so did the L-3 that C.J. hit.

Even though that kid made a tough mistake that he’s going to struggle to get rid of, I think these guys would tell you he’s a big reason why we’re here, and he’s a special, special young man and a great teammate and remarkably coachable. I’m in pain for him because he — a lot of guys dragged us here, but he was a monumental piece in why we’re here.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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