Arizona baseball opened the Tucson Super Regional with a 9-3 victory over Ole Miss Friday night at Hi Corbett Field.
Our full game recap can be found here and below are some key quotes from postgame interviews.
Arizona coach Jay Johnson on overcoming a poor first inning two Fridays in a row: “We were totally poised. I thought Chase (Silseth) really wanted to come out and set a good tone. I actually thought he pitched pretty good to be honest with you. There was a couple mistakes. It never really got off the rails for him though. So I’m really proud of him. I’m proud of the team’s response. With that being said, again, I’m not surprised. We want to play in character. That’s something that’s really important to me, and I thought it was just another example of the character of our team.”
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco on Silseth’s performance: “He pitched well. In the first inning we were able to get some good swings off, but I thought after that he mixed well. I think some of that was our doing. I think if we went back and looked at the tape, we took a few fastballs early in the count. Put ourselves in some bad counts. The split finger ball and the breaking ball, whatever you want to call it, gave us some difficulty I think when we got behind in the count.”
Arizona third baseman Tony Bullard on Silseth making it to the middle innings: “That’s definitely huge having Chase go those extra innings because we don’t have use many other guys out of the bullpen.”
Johnson on Riley Cooper’s scoreless relief work: “That’s two and a third in the middle of the game right there, just like he did last Friday. I thought it got the momentum back in our dugout, allowed our offense to do our thing, win the middle innings.”
Cooper on his mentality in high pressure situations: “Just to play like it’s just another game. Not try to put anything too much on it and just go do what I’m supposed to do out there. I really trust my defense behind me so it’s just all about executing pitches and just everything that (Nate) Yeskie calls for us.”
Johnson on how the suspensions of Randy Abshier and Gil Luna affected his gameplan: “It didn’t really change in terms of how we were going to match up. I think you maybe look at going to a different guy than maybe we would have if those guys were available. We didn’t have them, so we went to a little bit different plan and really credit to Chase getting us a few more outs than it looked like he was going to get us. I can’t state how important that was.”
Johnson on Bullard’s postseason surge (four homers in four games including two Friday): “When he wasn’t in the lineup for a period of time this year, there was no moping, feeling sorry for himself. He knew he had to get better, put in the right kind of work and I can’t remember if I believe it was against Utah or USC, there was a couple of bats where it looked like he found something. And all that work had started to click, and then he realized he’s as good as I think he is. And now he carries himself that way. He takes those types of at bats. I’m the least surprised person probably of anybody.”
Bullard on his approach at the plate: “I’m just trying to swing at good pitches, see the ball up and put a good swing on it.”
Johnson on the offensive output: “I liked the sustain pressure. I thought we took really quality at bats. I thought we took at bats in character tonight and really didn’t let up. We only had two innings that we didn’t score in.”
Bullard on playing in front of a packed crowd at Hi Corbett: “It’s electric. The fans are like another teammate, you could say like the 12th man the Seahawks have. So yeah, it makes us want to play more and it gives us great energy to keep moving forward.”
Johnson on facing Ole Miss All-American pitcher Doug Nikhazy Saturday: “He’ll be the third All-American pitcher that we’ve seen in the NCAA Tournament. Doug’s a great competitor, a great pitcher. Features four pitches at times. It’ll be a good competitive battle, and we’re gonna have to be on it and be focused and competitive like we were tonight.”