College World Series: Lexington Regional

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Indiana State Sycamores

Mitcvh Hannahs

Brennyn Cutts

Postgame Press Conference


Indiana State 13, Illinois 2

MITCH HANNAHS: Obviously when you get to this point of the tournament you need to get good starts on the mound. That is imperative. I thought Brennyn was absolutely dominant today. I thought he commanded the zone both sides, threw three pitches where we wanted, when we wanted, and I thought he was the difference.

We had some opportunity offensively. I felt like we took advantage of it, which has plagued us a little bit through the tournament, conference tournament and this one so far. So overall just really pleased with the effort.

Q. Brennyn, in your own terms, speak to what was working well for you and what felt comfortable out there?

BRENNYN CUTTS: Just getting ahead of hitters. Getting that strike 1 really works and then just moving on from there. And then what Coach said, throwing three pitches for strikes whenever, moving the fastball in and out.

Q. How does your confidence expand on itself as you’re going well to start the game, especially after some outings that haven’t gone as well?

BRENNYN CUTTS: Yeah, just getting that first inning, second inning under my belt and then coming in, that third inning after all those runs, I didn’t feel like I could throw it over the plate and just kind of let them get themselves out and kind of work from there.

Pretty much just attacking the zone really. That’s all it comes down to.

Q. You go out there and the rain comes down then go finish the game. Take me through the delay.

BRENNYN CUTTS: Yeah, I was pretty loose. Obviously I was a little bit gassed, but I just kept staying within myself, not trying to do too much, and then just kind of let stuff play.

MITCH HANNAHS: He was busting my chops for calling 2-2 fastball to Moreman there.

BRENNYN CUTTS: That’s all right. We were up.

Q. You also got three double play balls, and that one in the seventh inning was important. To get something out of that, it becomes a different game. Talk about the defense behind you today. You were able to reduce those ground outs but they did some work, too.

BRENNYN CUTTS: Yeah, that’s another thing that gave me that confidence. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. You can just kind of work the corners but you can just kind of let it play a little bit more and then let them pound on the ground because I know our defense is one of the best defenses in the country.

I know that for a fact. It just gives you all the confidence in the world.

Q. Talk about just the satisfaction of when a team needs a start like this, there’s no margin for error and you delivered.

BRENNYN CUTTS: It feels great because I’ve been preparing for this all season, all fall, all winter, and I didn’t want to come out of the game. I knew from that first pitch, I was like, I don’t want to come out. It’s big for the team, and we’ve just got to keep it rolling into the next game.

Q. Brennyn, when you face an Illinois team that’s just so based in power in the home run ball, does it change your game plan on the mound or what you’re trying to accomplish, especially early on?

BRENNYN CUTTS: I don’t think so. I think I just let things work a little bit more, let me body work, let the pitches work, don’t try to do too much. And it helps that, like I said earlier, the runs, getting those runs early, and then you can kind of just attack them a little more.

It’s not going to hurt you, so you can pretty much just throw down the middle and just let it work.

Q. Did having that book on Illinois, having maybe seen them before in your career, did that help, that it’s not just video that you’re looking at?

BRENNYN CUTTS: Yeah, I don’t know how many times I’ve faced them in my career just on the mid-week. But just doing my thing really. I know Coach has a good game plan going into it, so I’ve just got to execute.

Q. Coach, not many teams today have the luxury of throwing a fresh conference pitcher of the year on Sunday. What does his performance mean to you when you’re trying to win two more games after this one and he eats nine innings for you?

MITCH HANNAHS: Sure. I think the ammo of our team, you go back and look at the conference series that we won, what we’ve tried to do is get better as the weekend goes on the mound.

It’s well-documented that we’ve lost Friday plenty of times and we’ve lost that first game plenty of times. But it’s really good to have him back there.

I think the really big thing for him, he made an adjustment about two weeks ago, he was getting his hands really tight to his body and was pulling off everything, and he got his hands up off.

To have someone come and tell you, hey, this is what you’re doing and then to be able to take it and make the adjustment and get back on track, that’s not an easy thing to do, because I know from a confidence standpoint he was really fighting himself.

It was a simple mechanical thing that he and Coach Hancock went to work on the pen, in the pen, and I think that really, really helped him.

We didn’t know what we would get. We saw flashes of it then in the NBC tournament, but that’s the guy that we watched all year. So it was great to see him have a day like that, and it was obviously something that our team needed.

Q. Complementary baseball, Mitch, a seven-run third inning didn’t help his cause. Obviously they go hand in hand, but how much that really helps Brennyn to go out there and have a leader.

MITCH HANNAHS: Well, it’s extremely important, and I think what happens, and we talk to our team about this, we’re at a point now where opportunities are few and far between when you play good people, and when you get them, you have to take advantage.

I thought our offense got some opportunity there in the third inning and we took advantage, except for the two-out, two-strike base hit that we got thrown out on at the plate that I wasn’t overly pleased with, because obviously we should’ve right on the swing.

But for the most part, I think taking advantage of that and getting a guy that has struggled a little bit somewhat of a comfort zone.

But the other thing is, yeah, we are familiar with Illinois and we know how quickly they ignite and we know how good offensively they are. Fortunately when they had some opportunity, they hit some balls right at us and we were able to get some double plays, and I think that was really important to him through those middle innings, and then obviously in the seventh, the comebacker was huge.

Q. Considering where you are on the weekend, it’s not bad going into the final one or two games. What is the pitching plan for tonight?

MITCH HANNAHS: I’m not 100 percent sure yet. We’ll talk about it when we get back out there. Obviously I’ve had some ideas of who we would go with and how we would play the game. If it’s something that we try to shorten the game, I don’t know yet.

Obviously strong candidate would be Gilley to start, but other than that, I’m just not 100 percent sure.

Q. After yesterday’s game you expressed some frustrations with getting to an early lead, not being able to put them away. Today there might have been some breaks in scoring in the middle innings but you applied pressure and kept your foot on the gas the whole day. How do you feel about the offensive performance?

MITCH HANNAHS: Well, even those innings where we didn’t score, I thought we were getting good barrels. I thought we were swinging the bat very well. This is a momentum-driven sport, and when you start seeing guy after guy after guy starting to put good swings on, you feel really good. Even though we weren’t scoring, I fill felt good about our offense today.

I thought yesterday when we went into the lull a little bit, we weren’t barreling anything. It just seemed like we were giving away at-bat after at-bat after at-bat. I thought today we did a better job of maximizing our at-bats.

Q. I was going to ask you how you guys were able to flush the opening game and win two in a row and especially to do what you did offensively today.

MITCH HANNAHS: I think obviously we’ve been through it a lot during the year. I think that helps. I think the other thing is you have to have — I look back at our season, and I think in February and March, and we talked about this after the Game 1 loss, I thought we played solid baseball in April. I thought we played really well. I thought we had a really good month in April.

I thought the only thing that kept us afloat in May was our toughness, our grit, and I think going through some of those struggles in early May really helped and helps in a situation like this.

Q. You likely will face a pretty charged atmosphere tonight. Does last year’s experience at LSU have any value?

MITCH HANNAHS: Absolutely. I think obviously when you’re playing in these type of atmospheres similar to TCU last year, you can’t let someone go on a run. You can’t let them electrify the crowd. You’ve got to do anything you can to minimize it. Obviously there’s a home-field advantage 7,000, 8,000 people in and they’re loud, which we found out at TCU last year.

Thank goodness there are no metal bleachers here they’re pounding their feet on right behind us. And it helps to have a veteran club, because the communication becomes very difficult from the dugout.

Q. How good is it for the conference? You guys have pushed this far and Evansville have had —

MITCH HANNAHS: We knew Evansville were good. I think the only people who didn’t know Evansville was good were on the committee. We knew Evansville was good. They’re as good as anybody we’ve seen. They can absolutely swing it. They can pitch it. They’re going to be a tough out.

They got us in the conference tournament in a good game. We lost and got into that losers’ bracket. But I think sometimes you watch clubs that you see every week on TV and you don’t see a lot of the clubs like our league.

But I can tell you Evansville is a very good team. If they end up winning that and whoever draws them — I think it would be Tennessee in the super — tune in, because it’ll be a good series.

Q. I’m sure you’ve been asked this all year, but for Brennyn coming from a small town in Illinois being able to go from a freshman to midweek to where he is now this year, did you see that when you were recruiting him or has he made a leap that you didn’t see coming?

MITCH HANNAHS: I think when you play in our area of the world, you have to have four quality starters. You have to have somebody to win those midweek games. A lot of times those are huge RPI games, so I considered even last year our midweek starter more important than our three starter in conference.

He’s thrown a lot of those games against a lot of good teams, a lot of good offenses, whether it be Illinois or Indiana. Vanderbilt, he’s thrown there a few times.

I think he came in with really good command, and he came in with really good poise, and I think that’s underestimated today. These young people that were raised right and they come in with a really good package to build on, I wish I could say we’ve done a lot to enhance his career, but the reality is he came in with a really strong foundation from his family. He had a brother that played Division I baseball, and even though he was in Cumberland, Illinois, which no one here has ever heard of and grew up in Illinois, unless you’re from Illinois.

He had a really good foundation at home and was raised right and was taught the game correctly. So he came in throwing strikes and hitting spots.

If there’s one thing that I think Coach Hancock has really enhanced with him, it’s the slider. He really couldn’t spin it much when he first got to us but that would be the biggest difference that I see.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini

Dan Hartleb

Ryan Moreman

Postgame Press Conference


Indiana State 13, Illinois 2

DAN HARTLEB: Obviously a difficult day for a number of reasons. One, you come in hoping to get back into a championship game situation, and we weren’t able to do that. Then the fact that your season is over makes it that much more difficult.

I thought we competed well. Just made some mistakes today and couldn’t overcome them.

Q. Ryan, you’ve had a great season, a championship season. Obviously you didn’t want it to come to an end like this, but what was it like to play here this weekend with a lot of people from Champaign that made the trip here watching you on a big stage?

RYAN MOERMAN: Yeah, it was a ton of fun. It was some of the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys that we have to do it with and enjoy it with. We had a bunch of fun.

I mean, we didn’t end the way we wanted to, but that doesn’t take away from everything we did this year.

Q. What was Indiana State’s starter throwing that kind of kept you guys — they’re a potent offense — kept you guys quiet today? What were you seeing throughout the course of the game? Then talk about your home run in the ninth.

RYAN MOERMAN: He did a good job commanding both sides of the plate. He had multiple pitches working for strikes. He did a good job.

Q. Were you sitting on the fastball there in the ninth?

RYAN MOERMAN: Yeah. I wasn’t trying to do anything else but homer.

DAN HARTLEB: Maybe you should try that more often. (Laughter).


Q. Ryan, Dan said last night that he felt a lot of guys were scuffling just because they were trying too hard. Did you get that feeling that guys were kind of pressing and needed to come out loose today?

RYAN MOERMAN: Yeah, we probably did press a little bit. I don’t know, we just kind of got cold, I guess. That happens. We couldn’t — not saying we couldn’t hit, but we didn’t hit to our full potential.

And it sucks that it happened at this time of the year, but like I said, it doesn’t take away from what all those guys did the whole season.

Q. As a leader on this team with eligibility remaining, how do you build upon this for next year with the guys?

RYAN MOERMAN: We talked about it at the end of the game today. I think a lot of the younger guys can learn by what we accomplished this year and what the older guys did as leadership. I think we’re in a great position for next year with the younger guys seeing what it takes to win at a high level and what needs to be done on and off the field.

Q. There was a lot of talk in preseason this year about trying to do a little bit better than you have the last couple years. Looking back at what you guys were able to accomplish, how special is it to know that you guys flipped that and got it back on track?

RYAN MOERMAN: Oh, it was awesome. If you look at how we started this year and you would have told me this is how we would have ended up, I would have been smiling ear to ear. It was great. They had a ton of fun this year. So proud of all the guys and what we accomplished.

Q. Coach, you won the Big Ten, you don’t win seven out of eight Big Ten weekends by accident. What were your thoughts on the overall season? I know it’s not the way you wanted it to end, but it’s hard to count this as anything but a success.

DAN HARTLEB: Well, our guys do a great job. It’s difficult to win. It doesn’t matter at what level. As you said, we won seven out of eight weekends. We had to go into Purdue and win on the road against a good team to clinch a championship. Our guys handled it. They did.

You look at where we were a year ago, you look at where we were after 15 games, and then you look at the fact that we lost some pitching throughout the second half of the year and guys still found a way to win. Special group, so really proud of them.

Q. Overall just the idea of what you said last night, trying to get the guys loose today, short of the outcome today, did you feel like you were back to being loose a little bit?

DAN HARTLEB: I don’t feel like we were tight at all. When I say that, the entire weekend, because if you watched the way guys went about their business, they were laughing, joking, having fun throughout batting practice, breakfast, lunch. I didn’t feel like they were tight from the standpoint of — sometimes you get tight because you have so much apprehension, and I don’t want to say you’re afraid, but you’re looking at things that could go wrong.

I didn’t ever feel that way. You just get momentum at times, and we had a lot of momentum.

Then the last two weeks, who knows why that happens. To win late, you have to be hot. You can see that throughout this entire tournament. You see it in the Big Leagues. You see it in athletics. It’s the hot teams that win. For some reason we weren’t hot the last two games, so it came to an end for us.

Q. From a pitching standpoint, Dan, since the season is over, is Cooper going through something injury-wise that didn’t allow you to go to him today?

DAN HARTLEB: He’s had some soreness. We’ve had to manage that for a month. I guess five weeks, somewhere like that.

If you look at our history and my history, I’m not running anybody out there that’s not healthy. We’ll never do anything to hurt an individual based on my ego. That’s not going to happen. It’s unfortunate, but it was opportunities for others.

Our guys did a good job. I thought everybody competed. We had a terrible outing today, and that comes down to you walk a couple guys, you hit a guy, and the biggest play was the fact — we talk about this all the time — you have to get an out on a bunt. We didn’t get an out and it always leads to a big inning and it just snowballed on us.

You take away that one inning and it’s probably a much different game, but you can’t take it away.

I didn’t think those guys gave in at all. Just unfortunate the way it unfolded, and it’s part of the game.

Q. Coming into the season, knowing how many guys could possibly come back for you and what they accomplished this year, got some signees and transfer portal guys I know you’re excited about, to be able to build on this, is there positivity going back home?

DAN HARTLEB: Absolutely. I tried to stay it out there and I couldn’t get it out. Tough endings. But I’m excited about the guys that can come back. I think we’ll have a lot that will come back. We have some — the biggest loss that we’re going to have — there’s a lot. You have pieces. When I say the biggest thing, all those pieces with the leadership.

Guys like Ryan Moreman and Payton Hutchings, some of those guys that helped this year, they’re going to have to take a bigger chunk of that. It doesn’t matter what a coach does from a leadership standpoint. If you don’t have leadership in the locker room, you will not be successful.

That’s a piece that I don’t want to say I’m concerned about but that’s a piece that we need to get right. This group coming back is capable of doing it. A lot of different personalities that need to mold together. There’s going to be a lot of new pieces coming in because we lose some guys from graduation, and so they’re going to have to fit into a certain culture, and we’ll have to mold that.

But I’m excited. It’s something we need to build on. It’s been too long since we’ve been in the NCAA Tournament. It’s an expectation of mine every year and it has to become an expectation of the players. That’s when you get things accomplished.

I think we have a chance to be a good team a year from now, but we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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