College World Series: Lexington Super Regional

Monday, June 10, 2024

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Kentucky Wildcats

Coach Nick Mingione

Cameron O’Brien

Nolan McCarthy

Devin Burkes

Robert Hogan

Postgame Press Conference


Kentucky – 3, Oregon State – 2

NICK MINGIONE: My heart is filled with gratitude. So proud of these players, coaches, staff, former players, former coaches, former staff members that have just poured so much into this program.

Thankful for our fans. Big Blue Nation was unbelievable these last three weeks. Even dating back to the last regular season series of the year, just absolutely incredible. Our fans really showed out. This is my plea to get them to come to Omaha, create that same environment.

Our players, they’re unbelievable. They have true grit, true toughness, unbelievable belief, real belief in one another and each other. And their true love for one another really showed. It really showed — not only this weekend but really all season long, just truly amazing.

And I want to spread a special thanks to our other coaches and staff members. There’s no way this happens without them. So just so thankful for these group of men and what they’ve been able to do, what they’re going to continue to do. Gave us all an experience we’ll never forget.

Q. Three hits all weekend, could you talk about what was the game plan? What were you guys thinking going into this?

ROBERT HOGAN: Just making our pitches. Biggest thing was just throwing strikes. They haven’t seen us before. So that’s to our advantage. They haven’t played us all year. We haven’t played them. So we get to learn every day. And so just making our pitch, see what happens. And that was the best outcome for us.

CAMERON O’BRIEN: Once again Coach Roszel called a great game. He’s been nails in the postseason. So we’re just going out executing quality pitches, trusting what he calls. And Dev has us back there behind the plate. We’re just going on the attack and executing quality pitches.

Q. Devin, you go back to media day, there were a few of us crowded around you. I think it was (indiscernible) asked you if the goal is Omaha. You said yes. You said already looking (indiscernible) — how surreal is it now?

DEVIN BURKES: It’s crazy. You always, you know you’re going to get there. You know you’re confident in getting there with your squad. But, man, when it actually happens, it’s like you look around and you’re like, we’re going to Omaha. You know what I’m saying? It’s crazy. It’s crazy.

We all couldn’t have done it without the coaching staff, Mr. Mitch Barnhart, all the higher-ups, everybody. Everybody is all hands on deck when it comes to this. Yes, sir.

Q. Nolan, could you take me through the play where you scored the go-ahead run? Tell us where you were at.

NOLAN MCCARTHY: Yeah, I was on second, Coach Ming was telling me to be balanced on my skips. Don’t want to give that pitcher anything like that. It’s a big run.

I saw it squeak by. I was running to third. I immediately saw their pitcher wasn’t covering. I think I ran through a stop sign, but it ended up working out. No one was covering home, so might as well take what they’re going to give you.

Q. Were you worried you dodged too soon?

NOLAN MCCARTHY: No. I told Robert I was going to Pete Rose dive today and it ended up happening.

ROBERT HOGAN: This guy’s crazy so —

Q. Could you talk about the at-bat with Bazzana, where you guys (indiscernible) huge play in the game? What were you trying to do? And how did you get him out?

ROBERT HOGAN: The biggest thing, just thank Roszel. He’s, like, dude, just trust your stuff. They can’t hit it. I mean, everyone behind me had my back. And it was, like, you have the best stuff here.


ROBERT HOGAN: I did that, I was I’m going to trust my stuff, throw it. If he hits it, he hits it; if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. He’s one of the best hitters, and he’s a Golden Spikes finalist. I knew I had to throw my best stuff to get him out.

Q. With the fans being there, I know Coach mentioned it, few of you guys mentioned it, but how does it help at times just getting behind you guys, getting loud when you needed it? I think (indiscernible) said yesterday it was like having an extra man out there. Can any of you guys elaborate on that?

DEVIN BURKES: Just sometimes you have to look around in the game. I’m fortunate enough to be behind the plate so I get a decent amount of time to look around and enjoy the environment.

And I’ll never forget, after he threw that ball, the slider behind the dude’s head, I looked back at Mr. Brian (phonetic) behind the plate. And he just looked at me and started to laugh. I was, like, it’s loud, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s loud. They did the most for us, and we appreciate them.

NOLAN MCCARTHY: We could totally feel them all week. I was sitting on my couch with my roommates this morning, it was like, it’s a 9:00 p.m. game. Do you think they’ll show out?

This is the craziest atmosphere I’ve been around. And we played in is the super regional at the Box last year. Just absolute support from those guys. And it’s amazing. It’s amazing that BBN showed out. And it was absolutely a home field advantage. Whether it was a neutral site, it was a home field advantage. It was awesome.

ROBERT HOGAN: That was the coolest thing ever. It’s 9:00 p.m., you’re looking, seeing if people are showing up. 7:25, you see people running to their seats. It’s like, holy cow. It’s kind of surreal coming to see us play.

I mean, it’s something, it makes us want to play for them and play for this state even more because having them there, it means a lot. It shows that they’re here for us. And that just makes us want to do better.

CAMERON O’BRIEN: It’s awesome.

We’re looking at a (indiscernible) nine (indiscernible) on the mound mentality, and you have Dev back there fist pumping. But nothing like BBN getting loud when you get two strikes or get a big out. It’s really special and really helps us out on the field.

Q. Can you describe what you were thinking when Nolan was running around third base on that play? And how much did that play sum up the team’s mentality (indiscernible) all year?

DEVIN BURKES: I knew he had it. He’s like always being crazy. As soon as the ball went by and the pitcher was — I don’t know what he was doing, he was looking around or something, I, like, I hopped over the fence, and I was, like, Nolan, you’re going.

And he was already on it. He was already at home sliding. I was, like, let’s go.

ROBERT HOGAN: We were in the bullpen. I was, like, I was watching. We were, like, oh, my gosh Nolan’s doing it. The pitcher is not covering, go. All of a sudden I see him dive. I was, like, oh, my gosh, he just did the Pete Rose dive. That was awesome. I remember that.

It just shows how gritty we are and how we’re willing to do everything it takes to win. He’s also, he’s crazy.

Q. Devin, you probably had the best view of this, but Mitchell Daly’s ball down the line, what did you see and (indiscernible) for any of you other guys?

DEVIN BURKES: As soon as he hit — called the pitch. It was supposed to be expanded away, he would have got chewed out if that ball went by because it was right down the middle. And he hit it. And as soon as it came out of his hand it was, like, one of them pitches you want back. He ended up hitting it on the ground. We got basically Gold Glovers, we got all Gold Glovers around the infield.

NICK MINGIONE: Including you.

DEVIN BURKES: And then he made it. And as soon as he made it I was, like, he got him out. I didn’t even need to watch the throw. I was already yelling. I was, like, let’s go.

NOLAN MCCARTHY: Mitch is one of the best club house guys you can have. And he’s the guys who played shortstop for three years before this. And he turned into a third baseman this year. It’s super impressive to see what he’s done this year. You can hit it 110 miles per hour. He’s keeping it in the field. Just one of the hardest workers I’ve been around. Just awesome to see it come through in a big moment.

ROBERT HOGAN: He’s got a heart of gold. He’s there cheering everyone on. He wants everyone to do good. We love him to death. He’s a brother. He’s selfless. And like every time he’s in the box, he’s always pounding his chest because we know he’s got us.

Q. What’s it do for a pitcher when you see that?

ROBERT HOGAN: It makes pitching a lot easier, I’ll tell you that. I mean, knowing that you have Gold Glovers at every single position and you have a guy that will block every ball behind the dish, it makes it easy to pitch. You don’t have to worry about giving up a dribbler or a hard hit; if it’s on the ground or in the air, it’s an out.

CAMERON O’BRIEN: I was squatted down in the corner of the dugout trying to keep it cool. But I saw Mitch dive and Coach always says you can’t let the ball get by you down the line. Seeing him lay out, I knew he stopped it. And seeing him hop up and make the throw, it was incredible. I knew then we were going to win that game.

Q. Robert or Cameron, what is it like to have a guy like Devin behind the plate who can adjust to whoever is on the mound?

CAMERON O’BRIEN: He knows us more than we know ourselves sometimes. When he’s back there giving me fist pumps, hitting his chest when he needs to, gives me queues when I throw a bad pitch. It’s awesome to have support back there. When Coach calls it in the dirt, we are told to make Devin work, so it’s cool seeing him back there blocking those balls for us and being big.

ROBERT HOGAN: It’s awesome having him back there. It’s his energy that also helps you pitch. Seeing him fist pump and jump up, I mean you know he’s got it. It just makes it you, like, I got this too, having the guy behind the dish because he’s such a leader.

Q. I know you guys have unfinished business in Omaha. What’s it feel like to be the first, the first team to make it to Omaha, there can only be one first?

DEVIN BURKES: Come on, let’s go.

NOLAN MCCARTHY: This is something that Devin and I have been talking about since our freshman year. We were hitting down here more than anyone else. When they were on the road we were down here talking about Omaha in a couple years.

And Coach Ming, I think it was our freshman or sophomore year, we had to read a book called “The Energy Bus.” We started calling it the Omaha bus because we were going to get to Omaha.

Just seeing the way it’s built the last couple of years, it feels like we’ve really kicked the door down now. We have unfinished business. It feels amazing to be the first ones.

CAMERON O’BRIEN: It’s special. I think when I was in the transfer portal, a lot of things Coach Ming was telling me, you’re going to come here and do something that’s never been done before. So to sit here and be doing something that’s never been done before is pretty awesome. And we’re definitely not done yet.

ROBERT HOGAN: It’s honestly surreal. It’s probably the best thing that any of us could have asked for, being in this position. And so we’re going to go to Omaha and we’re going to do our thing because we ain’t done.

Q. Robert, you were chatting with Darren (phonetic) at yesterday’s game, and how you felt like breaking pitches would be a key this weekend against a Pac-12 team. Did that give you confidence, play out the way you thought it would?

ROBERT HOGAN: It goes to say, we all have really good stuff, everyone up and down the staff. And being able to throw it in there for a strike makes it 10 times easier.

Look at Johnny. He just did three breaking balls to end the game. That just kind of helps. Especially when you have guys that can do that, it makes it easier. Like I told you, breaking balls against these guys, all they’ve been seeing is fastballs. Being able to have stuff they haven’t seen before makes it easy to get them out.

Q. You guys always think about Omaha and you’ve never done it before. It’s the pinnacle of the sport. What have been your thoughts about Omaha, just your dreams, once you get there you’ll see it, but what have those dreams been like in your head and what are you expecting them to be?

DEVIN BURKES: I swear I could smell it the last — when we got two outs, I was, like, oh, my goodness, we’re going, come on, baby, we’re going.

But it always feels like untouchable. Because it is it’s the road to Omaha is so long. So we come out every day. Just don’t expire. 12:00 hits, it expires. Come out to practice the next day or if you have an off day, go lift. Just keep going, keep going, keep going.

And you finally achieve this and it’s, like, it doesn’t even feel real. Feels like you have unfinished business. Just keep going.

NOLAN MCCARTHY: I was probably 10 to 15 years old in summer ball at a hotel somewhere just watching the College World Series. And it’s just amazing. And it’s been my dream ever since then being able to have this opportunity. It’s just awesome.

And going into that ninth inning, I knew Ryan was crazy. I knew he was crazy. He would get us an out. You’re talking about with breaking pitches, I’m sitting with two guys with some of the best breaking stuff in the country. And Johnny Hummel’s slider and curveball are unreal. I could taste it too. It was crazy. I was on my knees just waiting for it. And, man, they delivered.

CAMERON O’BRIEN: I think that picture over there at TD Ameritrade it’s been my header on Twitter since senior year of high school. It’s been a goal of mine. To be able to go there, it’s going to be awesome but we’re still focused on the game on the field.

ROBERT HOGAN: I would say being able to go back with guys that I love means a lot. And doing something that UK has never done before means even more. Just like it’s almost speechless. I don’t even know how to put it. I don’t know how to put it. That we’re going.

NICK MINGIONE: Hogey’s story is pretty amazing. If you guys ever get a chance to just find out where he was, just a year ago mentally, not making road trips, not pitching, just down and out, is that fair?


NICK MINGIONE: And to do what he’s done here is truly remarkable and it’s a true testament to the type of man that he is. And I’ll let him tell you the story at another time, but it’s really amazing what he’s been able to do.

ROBERT HOGAN: Appreciate you, Coach.

NICK MINGIONE: Nolan and Devin, these are redshirts. They didn’t make road trips. They just waited their turn. They just waited for their time.

In a day and age where people just run and leave because they don’t get their playing time that they want, these guys waited their turn. They watched the bus leave week after week. They just stayed here. And all they did was make themselves better and believe in this program and do everything they can to help Kentucky.

And this is a perfect example of exactly what’s gone on in our program, a bunch of selfless guys that have just waited their turn and for their opportunity to help Kentucky. These two guys on the end, literally when you asked them in the portal what are you looking for, I want a place I can win and develop. That’s what they wanted. That’s what they wanted. Now here they are. They’ve won and they’ve developed and they’re better than they’ve ever been.

Truly remarkable. Maybe when this season is over — who was the show where it was like the rest of the story, who is that — Paul Harvey. When this whole thing is over and this season is over, you guys will know the real rest of the story and it will blow you away. It will blow you away the sacrifices that these guys, not only them, the rest of the people in our program have made to be in this position. It’s really remarkable.

ROBERT HOGAN: To go off you, Coach, we all believe in you because you make us better, the type of man — you always want us to, like, be great human beings. We just look up to you and we believe in you and everything you’ve done. That shows — Nolan, Devo and even me, the first conversation you and I ever had we connected on faith and I knew I wanted to come here because of the type of person you were.

NOLAN MCCARTHY: Shout-out to Coach Ming. Devin can attest he’s been the same guy since the first day I stepped on campus. And we had some seasons we didn’t do what we wanted to do. And I mean he’s just held the course. And he’s been an amazing coach and amazing leader and I can’t thank him enough. Devin can back me up on that.

DEVIN BURKES: I’ll go after him. Coach Ming has gave me — coach (indiscernible) actually recruited me, but Coach Ming is the big dog. He’s the final say. He gave me a chance to come here, not only me, but my family.

I don’t come from very much. He gave my mom a good opportunity for me to come here and be able to afford this place, and just really enjoy my time here, not make it stressful on me and my family.

I just can’t appreciate him enough, man. Like he said, a lot of guys, they tuck their tail and run whenever they don’t get playing game. But you can’t do that when you get to pro ball. My mom was big on that. Redshirting — the portal opened up. She said, you can’t go nowhere. Coach Ming gave you an opportunity to be there and you’re going to earn it. I said, yes, ma’am.

Gave me a shot. I’ll never say enough thanks to him. Man, he made me into half the man I am today. So I appreciate you.

NICK MINGIONE: I remember the story about when we decided that it would be in Devin’s best interest to redshirt him. And his mom came and picked them up. They were driving home. And I ended up talking to Ms. Denise. And I just said, hey, I just want to make sure that you understand, like, we believe this is the best thing for Devin. We believe he’s going to be a great player for us one day. But where our current situation is this is the best thing.

And I’ll never forget what his mom said. She said, “Coach, whatever you decide I trust you. I’ve given you my son and I trust you.”

Come on, who says that? What mom — like, really? Really? I just said your son, you’re investing all this money send your money to come and not play for one inning? And she said, Coach, I trust you. Whatever you think is best for Devin. Come on, what an amazing woman. I’ll never forget that. I’ll never forget that.

Q. Did you decide how long you were going to be able to celebrate?

NICK MINGIONE: I haven’t. What do you guys think? I think I might give them until tomorrow. I guess it is tomorrow. I haven’t told them. I haven’t told them. Midnight, is this already Monday? Monday at midnight. Tuesday morning.

Q. Devin said he had already said it’s after midnight so talking to him Monday.

NICK MINGIONE: Good thinking.

Q. The moment that you shared with Reeves was pretty amazing. I told you before — I’m not a UK fan and I’m not from here. I felt the emotion in that entire place. That moment when you picked him up and you were just screaming to the heavens with Reeves, that was an amazing moment. Could you speak —

NICK MINGIONE: What did you think, Reeves? Tell them how you felt.

REEVES MINGIONE: Amazed and very happy. I never felt anything like that in my life. I’ll never forget that moment.

NICK MINGIONE: This is going to be hard, but I want to get real with you guys. I cannot do this without Christen. She’s my rock. And coach’s wives do not get enough credit for what they have to go through.

2022 was a really hard time for me. It was a really difficult time. And I want to share some things of why. And maybe you’ll see a side of me that you haven’t seen.

Cole Stupp and Darren Williams both go down. I have as much as respect for Cole Stupp as any pitcher that pitched for me. He loved this place. He loved it. He goes down — and so does Darren Williams.

And I can tell you that one of the worst feelings as a coach is to have one of your players get injured. It crushes me personally and it crushes this woman to my left.

It’s like these are her own kids. And we lost them for that year. And we really believed that we had a regional or super regional type team.

And I’m going to tell you this, we went on this great run. We were one win short. We were one win short. We finished fourth in the SEC Tournament first time ever. It was the best finish, but we were one win short.

But earlier in that year, I had dark nights. Devin, or Nolan paid me a compliment and I did the best I could holding it together. But I was really crushed as a coach. I was hurting like I’ve never hurt before.

And I can be hard headed and I can be stubborn. Ask this woman. She’ll tell you. And I was beat down. I was a beat-down coach. And God taught me a valuable lesson. I did something that I’ve only done two other times in my life and I surrendered. I just finally said, Lord, I’m done. I’m done.

I cannot do this on my own anymore. I’m hurting for those two boys. I’m hurting for our team. I just felt like, man, and I was trying to do it all by myself. And the Lord put it on my heart that I was not using my spiritual gifts that he’s given me, and he basically — we have to make changes. I had to make changes.

One major change we made was we brought Nick Ammirati from coaching third base to the dugout to be with the players. And it put me at third base.

I started coaching third base on May 15th of 2022. I started coaching third base and I put Ammo in there. You can’t make this up. I surrendered. I surrendered. I said, Lord, I can’t do it. And that’s what he led me to do. I want to play you a song. I want to play you a song and this song, describes perfectly how God changed my life that night.


That’s what I did. I said, Lord, I’m done this battle belongs to you. From that day, on May 15th, you can check the stats. In the regular season only, we have more wins than any team in the SEC since that day.

You can’t make this up. Only God can make this up. And people told me it would be impossible for Kentucky to make it to Omaha. I literally had people tell me that. And that day I surrendered, and this is what the Lord has done.

Reeves knows a bible verse for every letter in the alphabet. I’m a proud father of that. Reeves, what’s your J bible verse?

REEVES MINGIONE: Jesus looked at then intently and said, humanly speaking it isn’t possible. But with God anything is possible.

NICK MINGIONE: And God taught me a lesson: It’s not what you’re playing for; it’s who you’re playing for. And I got done chasing this dream of Omaha, and I just said I’m done. I’m not chasing that anymore, Lord. I want to play for you.

It’s not what you’re playing for, it’s who you’re playing for. And that’s what God taught me.

So here we stand today. I give him all the honor and glory, to God be the glory, amazing. Amazing, and I hope you appreciate my transparency because that was real.

Q. What was going through your head in those last three pitches. What were you saying to God?

NICK MINGIONE: I was just like, Lord, please bless these kids. I really was. Especially when Hogey was out there, with all he’s been through. I was just like, Lord, please bless these players, please. And that’s your will be done.

Aaron Hoag (phonetic), a good friend of mine, he sent me a text a couple days ago. He just reminded that God was on his throne and that we would be fine regardless. And God already knows the beginning and end. Haec already knows the whole story. It’s already been written. And I just trust him.

Q. Could you talk about the pitchers mentality, the toughness, three hits all weekend against one of the best offenses in the league?

NICK MINGIONE: Mason was rolling today. He was rolling. And he got into trouble in the fourth and they did a great job just grinding him, Their two-strike foul balls. They did all that without a hit. They scored all those runs and got him for a ton of pitches. And it just got to a spot where he threw too many pitches in that inning. We had to make a change.

Dan Roszel has done a remarkable job with our pitchers from day one. He gets them to be pitchers, not throwers. That’s what our guys did. For the last however many weeks, we’ve been pitching. We haven’t been throwing.

So I give our players a lot of credit too for even recognizing the job that Dan has done just calling the game. I mean, they had two hits today. Offensively, you guys know all the statistics where they led statistically.

In the country now there’s 305 Division I schools, and they’re leading the country in a lot of, top 10 a lot of offensive categories. You only do it with really good players, a good game plan and coaching staff like Coach Roszel. He’s had him ready. Had him ready.

Cam was fantastic. The job that Hogey did awesome. Ryan Hagenow came in and we were going to use his change-up. That’s how we were going to try to get their lead-off guy out. And James made a good play, got the ball in immediately. And next thing Johnny came in did what he does, just pumped a ton of strikes and got a huge punch-out. But pitched and really defended at a super high level.

Q. Expanding on Johnny, he didn’t even pitch in the Regional. How big is it for him to kind of get his moment come in and finish that role?

NICK MINGIONE: Our starters did such a good job the last two weekends. Our starters did amazing for the most part. Cam has been our fireman. He started throwing the ball as good as he’s thrown. And same with Hogey.

But he’s waited his turn. And, boy, was he ready for that.

I mean, Cousy, Austin Cousino, I’m so happy for him, a guy that loves Kentucky, to come here in the first year. And when we were bringing Johnny in, he came up to me in the dugout. And Cousy comes up to me and says, do you remember what you told me about Johnny Hummel when we recruited him?

And I said, yeah, I do. I said do you remember? He’s like, Coach, you told me that that guy for the last year, at the school he was at, he pitched with the game on the line. Every time that opposing coach gave him the ball it was his job to hold it and stop it.

I said, yeah, I do remember that. He goes, he’s going to get this done right here. He’s going to get it done. That’s what Cousy said. And sure enough we did.

Q. You talk a lot about experiences these last two weeks. Starting with the selection show, Reeves told us got baptized, the team came. And crowds at the park, and now you’re going to Omaha. Can you even describe it all?

NICK MINGIONE: I can. This has been the best two weeks of my life. Yep. I mean, I don’t know how you can make it better. We sat in this room — is it Monday? Two weeks ago. There we go. Two weeks ago we sat here and we had the whole team and they did the selection show and we were the No. 2 national seed.

And this little dude stands up and he invites the team to his baptism on Thursday.

So then the whole team voluntarily, they didn’t have to come. I told them two different times, guys, don’t feel like you have to come. They show up.

This dude gets baptized. Christen and I both did it. And then we played Friday, we win. We play Saturday, we win. We play Sunday, we win. Then we have a great week of preparation and practice.

We play Saturday, we win. We play Sunday or Monday night and we win. It’s just, I don’t know, I don’t know how you could have a better two weeks.

As parents, for him, to make the greatest decision he could ever make in his life, and then to give our fans and our players an experience they’ll never forget.

And Christen was born in Omaha. When I first met her at Mississippi State, I realized we share the same faith and she was beautiful. And I said where were you born. She said Omaha. And it was, it’s meant to be. It was meant to be.

So the joke has always been to take her home. She was born on the Air Force base there. I’m taking you home. Taking you home.

I’m also really happy for Mitch Barnhart. The guy’s done amazing things, not just for our baseball program. I hope you guys have — he’s the second longest tenured athletic director in the Power Five conferences, second longest.

There’s teams in our league that have been through seven athletic directors. He has stood the test of time. I always say he’s been under a bunch of attacks. And I say his skin is so scarred over you guys can’t get him anymore because he’s just so tough.

But he built this place. This room you’re sitting in, this facility. This is long before Nick Mingione ever came. He built this place and invested in it and just envisioned this could be possible.

And what he’s done for all of our sports has been truly remarkable. I’m really happy for him. I’m really happy for him.

Q. Can you just walk us through what you saw in Nolan’s play from your vantage point, did you give him the stop sign?

NICK MINGIONE: I’m going to quote the players. They said he’s crazy. Coach Ming didn’t say that. Nolan is, like, super aggressive, and the guys call him crazy. And Nolan is the guy that wants to make the special play. I was telling him to stop verbally, okay, not physically.

But the game was in front of him, and I’m happy he went because he saw something. And we allow our players to make decisions on their own. This was different than like a base hit or something.

The play was actually in front of him. When there’s a play in the outfield the play is behind him. But this was a play in front of him.

I said this in the ESPN interview after the game, that easy coaching is just sitting there doing nothing. You don’t bunt. You don’t steal. You don’t hit and run. You don’t do anything. Really, that’s actually easy coaching.

It’s hard coaching to try to get guys to do the fake bunts, the slashes, the hit and runs, the hit home runs, the battle with two strikes, to put plays on. It’s hard.

But we have allowed our players to play with what I would say brains and guts. It takes brains and guts. And we allow them to make mistakes. You’ve seen it all year.

How many times have they tried to take an extra base and get thrown out. How many times have they tried a ball in the dirt and they get thrown — but we allow them to play aggressive. And we believe that when you do that you put pressure on 18- to 24-year-olds you’re going to get them to make a mistake eventually.

It’s hard on them. And I’m glad he went. He did the Superman dive. He was going to do something that it was going to be, like, it was a Nolan McCarthy moment. You know what I mean? I was telling him to stop, but I actually had my back — it was actually roles were reversed; I saw the catcher catch it. But I didn’t see the pitcher but he did. I thought it was a great play.

Q. QUESTION; is he okay? I know he came out —

NICK MINGIONE: I give him a lot of credit, too, because he kind of tweaked his hamstring on that and he basically during the pitching change, he said, Coach, I’m getting tight; I can’t make a play.

He took himself out, which is really smart and unselfish. He’s, like, I can’t make the plays that the game’s going to demand. I was like, okay, you want to come out. He was like, yes, I do. Ty Crittenberger was ready. He’s always ready. He was prepared for the moment and always ready. He was honest with that I was proud of him for that.

Q. You mentioned earlier that someone earlier told you can’t make it to Omaha through Kentucky. Looking back on that, was there ever any thoughts that crossed your mind that maybe they’re right and how did you overcome that?

NICK MINGIONE: I fell in love with this place in the summer of 2005. John Cohen gave me the opportunity to come here. And I came from Embry-Riddle. We had been in the College World Series three years in a row. We had come from a program where you just won. That’s what you did.

That first year, we won the SEC. And it was an amazing experience. We hosted our first-ever Regional. I saw how the people rallied. Didn’t have big crowds originally, started winning, and people started coming to the games.

That’s when I fell in love with Kentucky. And this is the place — you’ve heard me say this over and over — this is the only place I wanted to coach. And Christen will tell you — tell them what I told you when we first met.

CHRISTEN MINGIONE: When we were first married, we were sitting on our coach, 725-square-foot condo, and he said, “Christen, I’m going to be the head coach of the University of Kentucky one day.” I was like, “All right, let’s have big dreams. Let’s keep going.”

And here we are. And to add to that, when people told us we couldn’t make it to Omaha, I said, “Challenge accepted. Let’s do it. Let’s do it.”

NICK MINGIONE: See where I get my toughness from. This is a tough woman. Coaches’ wives, they just don’t get enough credit. They live and die on every pitch, every recruiting phone call, every game, every injury, they’re in it. She’s in it with us.

In 2022, I told you I had some long nights, and she was right there for me. How did I handle it? Just through prayer.

I’m going to share something with you guys, since you asked. I’m going to miss some people, but I believe in the power of prayer. And three years ago Coach Madison challenged me — I’m so happy for Coach Madison, by the way. 25 years to this program. He’s been leading our staff in a coaches’ bible study for eight years. Eight years. And three years ago he challenged me and the other coaches to find seven people to pray for you every day.

So I was like, okay. So I found seven people that have been praying. I believe in the power of prayer. But I went through my phone and I typed in the text messages. Prayer. Okay. And all these text messages came up. Listen to all these people that have been praying for this moment and for our players and their hearts and souls. Christen, Reeves. (Listing names).

Clayton McKinnis sent me a message, this is one of Clayton’s. At the time he was 13 years old. “Dear Lord, for some reason we’re praying for the Kentucky baseball team. I don’t know why but please be with them.” That’s what it said on my phone. I loved it.

(Listing more names)

That was 87 times. The Lord put on my heart last night — I woke up at 5:00 this morning — and I created that list at 5:00 this morning. I was like, all right, Lord, I’ll give you the credit, all those people.

So when you ask, did I ever have any doubts, and there were doubts, but I just believe in the power of prayer. And to God be the glory, all those people did it.

Q. When you open up and you talk about your players and the love for one another. How does that manifest itself, number one? Number two, why is that so important? Because teams have won fighting (indiscernible), why is that so important for your guys?

NICK MINGIONE: We believe that feedback is the breakfast of champions. And our guys, they do love one another, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have internal conflict sometimes. And I’ve explained to them that that’s okay.

If we’re truly a family — I don’t know about your family but our family was far from perfect and there was internal conflict — but when you love someone, you care enough to give them feedback and you challenge them sometimes.

You have to. That’s what the great teams do, is they communicate at a high level and they hold each other accountable. The hardest part is to get them to hold each other accountable.

That’s the hardest part. We often say in our program, the standard is the standard, regardless of what it is. If someone is not meeting the standard, they need to be told about it. Eventually, when you get to the spot where you trust one another enough and you love one another, you can handle that and you don’t get your pride in the way.

It’s okay. It’s okay. And you need to ask yourself, is someone telling me this because they’re trying to be a jerk, or are they trying to help me? And if you can take a step back sometimes go, no, he’s actually trying to help me. Well, our team would do that to each other.

They would check each other. We have a saying in our program, there’s six things we are not. We don’t whine. We don’t complain. We don’t make excuses. And we’re not soft, lazy and selfish. Those six things aren’t allowed in our house. You aren’t allowed to do those things.

They call each other out. You can’t do that in our house. “Excuses. Palms up. Palms up, hey palms up.” It’s like, no, they hold each other accountable.

And after you do that enough and you realize, like I always tell them, I want to check your heart. If your heart is right, then we’re good. But if your heart is not right and your intentions are not right, then we’re not okay with that.

And this team, and the teams in the past — you could see it coming — but they genuinely, like, love and trust and believe in each other. If you check them, they’ll say yes.

Mason Ward could tell you a story about Grant Smith not saying a nice word to him and calling him out at Missouri and Mason thanking him after, just challenging him. Like, a real true man challenge.

That’s what we’ve done to this team. Every time we challenge them — we call it a man challenge. We call them out, try to get them to step up, this team responds. And they respond to each other and they respond to the coaches.

I thought Nick Ammirati did a good job of that tonight. Ammo called the guys up. He did amazing. I told you what’s happened ever since we put him in the dugout. He’s an amazing coach. He called him up in the fourth, scratched out a run.

It was like everything we could in the fourth. He was just working so hard to put them, I would say, on the fish. And did a great job. But they respond. They respond. They respond.

Q. Asked a couple of questions of Nolan’s go-ahead run. I want to talk about in the bigger picture ask you, you’ve never been a program that leans on the home run. So grand slam, et cetera, could be something to send you to the College World Series. But is that play for you the perfect kind of identity of what your program is, that is the way you guys end up going to Omaha, with a guy staying aggressive on the base path and what you’ve also said, allowing your players to make plays?

NICK MINGIONE: You know, I hadn’t thought about it that way. Did he hit the double? Is that what he did? He hit the double. This team is so awesome. They did the double celebration.

Q. 100th career hit.

NICK MINGIONE: So he hits the double. The team celebrates. He gets excited. And then we know that they’re going to throw breaking balls, there’s going to be a chance for him to try to get to third base. Mitch Daly actually did that earlier, but the fact that he attacked with zero hesitation, zero, I mean, he — here we go. Oh, yeah!

The fact that he was and felt comfortable enough in his own skin to do that, I’m good with that. I’m good with that. When we attack, that is us at our best, and, guys, I’ve been doing the same pregame speech for almost a whole year.

And that’s the third thing that I tell them. I tell them, “The strength of our team is?” And they say, “The team.” And I say, “Victory must be earned when?” They say, “Every day.” And I tell them, “You know what we’re going to do tonight, we’re going on the attack? On the what?” “On the attack.”

That’s the third thing I tell them. The strength of our team is our team. I reminded them of that every game. Tell them the second thing, victory must be earned when? Every day. This is a new day. We have to earn it today. This is how life works. You’ve got to get up and go to work every day. It doesn’t stop.

And the way we’re going to do it is go on the attack. Now that you say that, that was just a beautiful way for us to go to Omaha, a guy attacking, and maybe you can just show the Superman picture of him flying right through there. That would be a cool pic. Cats on the attack.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Oregon State Beavers

Coach Mitch Canham

Dallas Macias

Gavin Turley

Postgame Press Conference


Kentucky – 3, Oregon State – 2

MITCH CANHAM: Heck of a ball game. No doubt our guys came out and put up a big fight responding from yesterday just like they always do. I can always count on these guys to battle and be there for one another. And to played down to the wire like that at the very end, incredible fight, big heart.

Obviously the tough part is not being able to see some of these guys for quite a long time. I know how much they poured into it since they showed up on campus and how much they love going out there and competing for one another. It’s very painful. There’s only one goal every year, and if you don’t win that very last game, it hurts.

But looking at these guys and how much they care about one another and how much they care about representing this Beaver family, it’s big. And I can’t say enough about, looking at each of these guys, how much I love them, how I’d do anything for them anywhere anytime, and I trust them with my life.

It’s going to be tough not being able to see some of them. But I know what they’re going to do. The guys that are moving on and going on to play pro ball have exhausted their eligibility. I know they’re going to do great things in life. They’re going to be good men.

And those that are still young and have time, I know this is going to fuel them to go achieve something that they’ve never done before.

They’re going to push, especially these two guys next to me, just a prime example of big hearts, selfless, doing the right thing, always building on their process and having fun along the way and fun is the journey.

Whether it stings right now, it really does, I know how they’re going to respond to this in a big way, and it’s going to change their lives.

Q. Could you just talk about your offense in the last two games? Can you pinpoint why it was so hard getting hits and how you were handcuffed?

DALLAS MACIAS: I mean, obviously, I think, each one of us are up there competing the way that we always do. And I think obviously we struggled to find a little bit of a rhythm.

It sucks because we all want it so bad, and I know each guy wants it really bad and is out there competing as hard as they can.

But it’s hard to pinpoint. I think we kind of got potentially a little swing happy and was playing into some of the off-speed instead of being a little more patient. But that’s all I’ve got there. But it’s just tough.

GAVIN TURLEY: I think Dallas knows that — big moment, it felt like every AB for every guy in every situation. So living up to that and being prepared for that mentally, I think we can do a better job at.

But I feel like we went out there and we competed like we always compete. I didn’t feel many of us took a pitch off. Their pitching staff was really great, made a lot of really, really good pitches. But I feel like Dallas said, we competed very well.

Q. I saw everybody gathered in the dugout afterwards. I know Mitch was in the middle. What did you take away from what he said? What was the enduring message there for both of you guys?

GAVIN TURLEY: I feel like what Mitch said at the end is why I’m here. It’s a family. Not something that you can really explain with words, but it runs deep. It’s a special thing to be a part of.

I mean, like I’ve said a few times now, I understand why people come back and talk so highly about this place. It’s because of people like Skip.

DALLAS MACIAS: Yeah, I agree. Same thing as Gav said. Just hurts at the end. You see all the guys around you. And everybody loves each other so much.

And I think that that starts with Skip and kind of the culture he’s built around us where everybody really takes the time to know each other. And it just means that much more when you’re out there because you’re just playing for each other like you’re brothers. And it hurts obviously at the end when you can’t pull through for each other.

Q. How much, if any, for both of you guys did you feel the crowd was a factor in the last three nights?

GAVIN TURLEY: It’s different, but also playing at Goss, I feel we’re kind of conditioned to it. We have a similar crowd, I would say. The speakers were blaringly loud all night, it felt like.

But the crowd definitely played a part in the momentum, you could say. But I feel it’s nothing new for us.

DALLAS MACIAS: Yeah, I agree. Similarly to what he said, definitely not something that I would say derailed us, but definitely something to learn from when you have a big crowd like that. And an opposing team, instead of fighting fire with fire, taking the low pulse route and being a little bit easier with it and taking it the other way.

Q. The way this ended, obviously short of what you had hoped for, how might this fuel or motivate you? Or what will be your response heading into next year?

GAVIN TURLEY: I feel like last year we came up short at the regional. This year short at the super regional. I feel like going into next year another year under our belts with more experience.

Really I know what I have to do, I know what role I need to fill for next year. I feel like I know myself better as a part of this team and where I have to be at as a part of this team much better going into next year, which will most definitely help in the long run.

DALLAS MACIAS: Yeah, I agree with what Gav’s saying. I think it really fuels the fire. Coming up short like that and watching the other team celebrate, it’s just something that I think that we’ll be able to use to get us even going more next year and it will be good.

I think we’ve got some younger guys that have more experience, like Gav was saying. And I think they’ll be ready to step into that role. And like Gav was saying, him and I with another year under our belt and ready to lead some of the other guys and get ready to win it next year.

Q. You guys had a hard time producing hits yet you produced a lot of traffic. Seemed like you were one swing away. I’ve got to think that added to your frustration. How are you feeling with that?

GAVIN TURLEY: Yeah, it’s very rare, I feel like as a lineup, when we get one hit or two hits. I can’t remember the last time it happened. Feels like Dallas, behind me, has three to four hits every night.

So the fact that that’s happened, I think, goes to show what a competitive environment this tournament is. But not much to talk on that, to be honest.

DALLAS MACIAS: Yeah, I’d say, like you said, it felt like we were always one hit away and kind of right on the edge of just blowing it open a few times. I think that’s where, one thing I’ll definitely take away from this is not try to make it happen too much and just letting the game happen.

And I think that that’s obviously moments like this, I choose to use it as a learning moment. And that’s what Skip always tells us about. You can take it as a failure and a loss and not learning anything from it. But I think that what we’re going to do is take this moment and learn from it and be battle tested for next year.

Q. Watching Trav and Micah, those guys, it was very emotional. How would you describe seeing how they processed it as best they could?

GAVIN TURLEY: Seeing those guys, they’ve been, it feels like, one step ahead. I like to think of it as an older brother where they can kind of guide you in the right way. So them being such huge parts of my career and everyone’s career, I assume Dallas, they’re always talking to us every day about something. And seeing it be the last pitch for them, last pitch we’re going to get to play with them, it was very emotional.

I feel like Lattery, he’s almost like a dad to me at this point. But Bazz and Micah and Brady, all these guys, seeing it’s going to be the last time I’m playing with them, potentially, it’s kind of like, you’re on your own now, Gav. It’s your time, which it’s emotional to me.

I’m sure Dallas could say the same thing. But those guys are a huge part of this team, huge part of my career and a lot of kids’ careers on that team.

DALLAS MACIAS: Yeah, exactly what he said. It just hurts because you treat them — like I have my own older brother, Gavin has his older brother, and it feels the same way. It always hurts seeing your older brother like that, knowing they’re potentially not going to be back next year.

And it’s just a painful part of it. And it is what it is, but I think that we’re going to miss them a lot. And that’s part of what, like you were saying earlier, fuels the fire a little bit of wanting to get back there next year and win it for them and be able to get their back.

Q. What did you say to the team in that huddle?

MITCH CANHAM: Something I need to tell people more often, that I love them. I could see it in their eyes how much they care and how much it stings. But really just getting to bring them all in one more time together.

As I called them up, I wanted to make sure they were real close. I yell at them enough about a million other things. I didn’t want to yell when I was telling them how much I loved them.

And that I’m just proud of them. Going through and giving those guys hugs, guys don’t always like hugs because then you start getting emotional. I know that’s what they spend a lot of time doing right after the game was telling each other how much they cared for one another, how proud they were of one another.

I could look at each of those guys that are going to be moving on, I know they’re going to be in a great spot. They’re going to have a wonderful family and they’re going to overcome adversity. And I look to them like I’m excited to go to their wedding some day and see them raise kids and teach others, you know?

That’s been the cool part about coaching, why I probably love it more than ever playing, is you don’t have any stats. You just focus on those other people and making sure they’re in a good space.

I wanted to break the huddle one more time. We say a handful of different things, and that was the appropriate time to bring them up and get a “family on three.”

Didn’t have a lot to say, but I know when my mom and my dad told me they loved me and they were proud of me, it wasn’t all the time or anything like that. Guys can be a bit gruff so we don’t always say as much as we should. But I think they know that about them.

Q. I know this probably isn’t in the front of your mind at a moment like this, but was there any point where you guys were the last Pac-12 team (indiscernible) to be standing? Anything (indiscernible) that it ended with you today?

MITCH CANHAM: I guess I don’t think too much on that one. I focus on Oregon State and our baseball family, our athletic department, our university, our community in the northwest.

Outside of that, I mean, as a Christian, I love everybody and I want to see everyone succeed. I know there’s always change. It does stink, and I think for those of us that grew up around that conference, it means a little something. It hurt a lot of people, but at the same time my responsibility is taking care of this baseball family.

I know we’re in a good place going forward for what we have planned out in our near future with our schedule and everything else.

But I love the sport. I love collegiate athletics. And I respect those that go out there and coach and put their heart into it because that’s what God put us here to do is to transform others in a great way.

So I think of this platform and the way the sport is growing, it’s such a beautiful thing, when you get to go out — a lot of the kids here locally are staying out way past their bedtime. People are going to call in tomorrow sick to work. And it’s because people love watching the game.

We have a lot of our family and friends that came out and watched, are watching back home on TV, and you don’t take that stuff lightly, the platform that we have, how special it really is to wake up every day.

Everything that you do is going to change people’s evening and tomorrow and the whole week. I know it’s not just the guys; it’s everyone back home that’s hurting right now. And I’m sure I’ll get a lot of emails letting me now how I need to fix some things on my end. Again, it’s just being able to take the punches, being humble.

I always say I don’t know if there is anyone who loves this place as much as I do because of what it did for me and my life. And I just owe the rest of my life to give it back to our student-athletes, to the community, to my wife and kids when I’m not home — and our coaches, Dor and Gip and Wong, you name it — Z.T. and Gorty, all those guys, Jeremy and Mike, they work their butts off and they love those kids.

I know how much it hurts. They’re passionate. I hired them all because they’re extremely passionate and love this place and would do anything for it. And how much — shoot, when I hired Dorman, I called a lot of his former players, and I coached with him before, I called his former players. And they all still stay in touch with him from years back. And they appreciated everything that he had given to them on and off the field.

I know people always have opinions on things, but my opinion on those guys is that they are extremely special. And there’s no one else like them in the country. And, again, I love sharing the office with them. They probably are harder on me than anyone.

I would say if we don’t get on each other at least once a week then we’re not doing our job. But, like, that is the special piece, the Beaver family as opposed to the conference. You still care about all that stuff. I want baseball to continue to grow. I want kids to play sports.

I want them to go out there and compete. When it’s game time, be rough. And my dad always said in football, you knock the guy out, you pick him back up and go on to the next play.

Q. Oregon State, rich baseball tradition, multiple national champions. This is the first time Kentucky’s made the College World Series. What does it mean to a program to get there, to get to Omaha?

MITCH CANHAM: I believe that’s going to be more the questions you’re going to ask those guys after me.

Q. But it’s a program with the experience in getting there, what does that say?

MITCH CANHAM: It’s an amazing accomplishment. Kentucky’s got a great team, obviously. The way they’ve played all year long. They’re playing the small game. They’re playing the speed. They’re pitching the heck out of it. They neutralized a good offense.

We stung some baseballs hard. Trosky hit one down the line, that puts a guy in scoring position there. Weber smashed a ground ball to shortstop. Anyway, that was not what the question was.

But thinking back when we made it to Omaha in ’05, and having that feeling, winning out at supers and going to Omaha. That first year we went 0-2 real quick and got sent home. It felt like a burr because you had never experienced it before. But it made you hungrier to go out and do that.

In ’06 we started off losing 11-1 to Miami with some rain, then came back with fire and never looked back. It was obviously a lot of confidence and momentum that can be built from that belief.

The relationships you build, every game you get to play with those guys around you, your relationships get stronger and stronger.

I know I go check my phone after this and there’s a text thread of a lot of us from ’06 and ’07 on it and they’ll be saying some stuff on there to pick us all up. It’s a life-changing thing when you’re able to accomplish those big moments and move on. And even how you handle the tough moments, I think, can bring you a lot closer too.

Q. Touched on it briefly there, but the play by the third baseman on the slash down the line, with the game kind of hanging in the balance there, that kind of pressure, just what did you think from your perspective?

MITCH CANHAM: I would have liked if he didn’t catch it. Yeah, just to see it from my viewpoint too, made a great read on it. Worked bottom up on it. And then gathered himself and fired a strike across the diamond.

It’s a two-outs situation. I’m going to go ahead and review it and maybe slow things down a little bit. Who knows, maybe he slid his foot off. Fight for anyway you can to get on base right there.

But huge for Jabin to come in off the bench. He’s a middle infielder playing the corner while TC was out this year. And he’s done a phenomenal job. It’s not easy to play as a middle infielder tall, and then go to the corner and have to do that stuff too. TC made a really nice play as well on a hot shot at him.

But that’s the thing. Sometimes the ball, 1 inch this way or scoots a little faster or whatever. And those are hard throws to make all the way down the line with the backhand. It’s a long throw in a big moment.

There were a few of those like that today. Balz ripping one down the line. Some contact over at first where he’s pretty stinkin’ fast and he’s probably going to be ripping for second on a ball down the line like that and the throw’s coming home. We thought he should have been awarded second base there. But when obstruction happens, you have to be a little conservative on that.

That puts second and third, winning run’s on second right there. A lot of big moments in that game.

Again, I was just proud of how well our guys responded from yesterday to come out and fight. May not have a lot of hits in there. Loved where Brady was at in pregame. And you could see from some of the swings that they wanted it real bad, maybe just a little too much.

But resilience coming in off the bench, putting a bunt down, being ready for those moments. Dawson Santana has been, like, told him he’s a bit of a captain for a freshman who hasn’t had much playing time. And to come in, run the bases, and be a part of that game — he’s a part of it whether he’s in the game or not.

There’s a lot of special kids you may not see in the lineup every day that are doing big things to make others better, which is what you want.

Q. What did Nelson tell you about the bizarre go-ahead run? Did he forget there was a man on second? What did he describe to you when you got a chance to talk to him about that?

MITCH CANHAM: I didn’t go talk to him about that one. I think we know when the ball gets by you have to go cover home. He just did not — had a little brain fart or something on that moment. And it was loud enough that you couldn’t say, hey, cover home.

But those are like little mistakes like that can be bigger things, but I don’t think that was the game. I think it’s silly to pinpoint one play on the entirety of it. There’s other times when we had runners on third and less than two. Find a way to get them in. Do whatever it takes. Push. Slap it.

I like later on how fearless Macias was. We put on a hit and run on 1-0 count to protect him a bit. The guy was a 1.55 to the plate. Had a feeling he was going to throw an off-speed pitch, gets him in scoring position. And then we’ve got to slow the game down and find a way to get him in and not chase.

When we didn’t chase — and we walked nine times. When we expand a little too much we get in trouble.

But when there’s a runner on third, less than two, we talk about it all the time, be ready now. Don’t wait. Don’t miss the good one.

A little in between on some pitches here and there. But that’s baseball. And we know even going into the season how strong the offense is, top to bottom.

I mean, every day you go look at the lineup, you’re like, wow, there’s potential to score a lot of runs right now and often.

And for it to come down to the end where we just didn’t score runs, yeah, it’s a bummer it happens back-to-back days, but at the same time, hits may not have been there but we were still drawing walks and putting pressure. Just couldn’t find that one big one. We know how that carries into the next.

Q. It feels like it was just yesterday that the loud hyper kid from Australia was rolling into Corvallis, what are you going to miss most about Travis Bazzana?

MITCH CANHAM: My heart says I’m going to see a lot of him. I know I’m not going to get to spend every day with him. I know he’s going to be back and around and want to be around the guys and help out.

His heart for that place and those guys, it’s just tremendous. He’s going to be great. He’s going to go on, do amazing things. Whatever number he gets picked, that’s just the draft. He wants to go be a Hall of Famer. He wants to win championships and get better every day.

So I’m excited to hear the stories about where he’s going, what he’s doing, seeing his family and how proud they are of him as well and how he’s changing the entirety of that country, just from how he goes about his business and works hard and is so patient with everything. He’s giving people belief that you can come here and do this.

You trust him with everything he does. He sets a great example for others. He’s still learning and growing and wanting to be the best. You see him he fouls off a ball or something he gets emotional because he wants it so stinkin’ bad. It’s what’s going to lead him to being successful the entirety of his life.

He’s done so many great things for this place, more than just baseball. And I’m excited. We all are excited for what he’s going to do and he comes over for dinner and hangs out with my kids and play a board game or LEGOs. He’s going to other coaches’ kids Little League games and every event he can to get involved on campus. Who doesn’t want to be around him? He’s infectious. He’s fun.

I told him he’s like part of the .001 percent. Hard for people to understand him because he’s just so unique. I feel like he’s — I’d do anything for him. I’d do anything for all those guys, but Travis has definitely influenced my family in many ways.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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