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What they said after Arizona’s extra-inning loss to Vanderbilt in the College World Series

arizona-wildcats-chase-silseth-los-angeles-angels-mlb-debut-2021-mlb-draft-oakland-reid-detmers Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

OMAHA—The Arizona Wildcats lost their opener in the College World Series, falling 7-6 to Vanderbilt in 12 innings on Saturday night at TD Ameritrade Park.

The loss drops the Wildcats (45-17) into the loser’s bracket, where they will face Stanford at 11 a.m. PT Monday in an elimination game.

Our full recap can be found here. Below is what Arizona coach Jay Johnson, starting pitcher Chase Silseth and Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin had to say about the game:

Jay Johnson

On Vanderbilt’s offense: “Continued to put pressure on us. Felt like we were on the ropes every inning, doing everything we could to get out of it. Just came up a little bit short. But they did just enough offensively where it seemed like we were on the ropes every inning. The lead-off guy was on seemed like the last three, four innings for them. Again, I thought our guys competed well. I thought they got a string of quality at-bats one more time than we did and that’s why they are who they are.”

On if playing Vanderbilt affected Arizona’s demeanor: “I don’t think the opponent had anything to do with our feel or our approach. I think we have mature players, players that have had success, players that know what it takes to have success, players that know what their best character is. And I thought we came out very well and in character. Sometimes the game is hard when you’re playing a good opponent and a good pitcher like we did tonight with their starter and a few guys out of the bullpen. And then they put a lot of pressure on you with the speed and athleticism throughout that lineup and force you into a fast-catch situation. I’m comfortable with how we competed. There’s nothing relative to that that I have any disappointment about.”

On if the offense was pressing, striking out 19 times and walking only once: “No, somebody’s going to give that dude (Kumar Rocker) $7 million here in a couple of weeks.”

On the decision to go to RHP Preston Price as the first reliever, to face two left-handed hitters: “We liked what Chase (Silseth) had done against (Enrique) Bradfield and (Carter) Young the first couple times through the order. And he was the most similar. And obviously being a fifth-year guy, we thought he’d be poised and come in and throw strikes and pitch down in the zone. And he left the fastball right over the middle of the plate and Young hit it.”

On Silseth’s performance: “Chase did a great job tonight. I think he ran out of gas at 105, that was his pitch count. Competed extremely hard. And we didn’t make it easy on him. I don’t think it went as an error but we should have made that play in the first inning in the outfield, which he had to make more pitches there to get out of an inning with a runner in scoring position. I thought he competed great. I’m very pleased with what Chase did, and I think he showed his character, his ability tonight in terms of how he executed and made it hard on them.”

On the defensive alignment in the 12th with the bases loaded and one out: “The problem is the runner at third. They have a very fast team all the way through the order. If it’s hit slowly, we’re not going to have a chance to turn it. Nik (McClaughry) has got to be able to come in and be able to get the force at home to keep the game going. Just credit (Jayson) Gonzalez. He got inside it and hit it just enough to punch it through there. We wanted to give ourselves a chance to win. And so we were playing to win.”

On not being able to hit Rocker much after the first inning: “Credit to our guys for coming out ready and in plan. And then he kind of kicked it into another gear. Breaking ball got a little bit sharper. Actually held had his velocity pretty well. And, yeah, I mean, when you gotta get started when it’s up there at 96 and 97, he can make you chase. As detailed as we put work into it, as good as our guys have been at that, he kind of found another gear. And so you tip your hat to him and it’s why he’s going to be a very valued commodity and why he gets the attention that he gets.”

On if Silseth’s last pitch, which resulted in a walk, was a strike: “Yes.”

On having experience coming out of the loser’s bracket in 2016: “I think it’s a baseball game against Stanford and Arizona on Monday. And we want to win that game. And we want to play our best in that game to give us an opportunity to win that game. I think if you look too much further beyond that, it complicates Monday. And these guys love playing together and we want to continue to play together. And we want to keep going. I think we have enough pitching to work our way back through it. But it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is Monday. And so everything will be about Monday.”

Chase Silseth

On what was working best for him Saturday: “I thought the fastball command was really working for me really well, being able to locate that pretty low, lower part of the strike zone to get a lot of ground balls as you saw today. And I felt really good about my performance. I was just battling out there, competing, to give my team a chance to win. And I felt like I did that. So I did my job. And always have trust going to the bullpen with my guys. And I’m backing them full after that. So I thought I gave my team a chance to win and I did my job.”

On giving up the home run to Jayson Gonzalez: “That was the one pitch I would take away from the whole game. I thought that’s the one bad pitch I made. Left it up in the zone for him to hit out of the ballpark. So on that pitch I just take that one away. Other than that, we were sitting pretty solid.”

On going up against Kumar Rocker: “You see all the talk and hype on (him) and it’s awesome what he’s doing. It was awesome. I was just trying to enjoy the moment. I thought I was going to be a little more amped up. But I kept my cool and I just enjoyed the moment. It was fun going up against Rocker himself, what he’s done this year is awesome to compete against him and Vanderbilt was a dream come true. And hats off to those guys. But it was really fun, really fun.”

On if he was nervous: “Oh, not at all. Coming in waking up I thought I was going to be. But it was just another game. With all these fans and everybody, they’re just coming to watch us play our best brand of baseball. That’s what I was thinking. So what’s there to be nervous about; we’re just playing a game.”

Tim Corbin

On what his pitchers did to slow down Arizona’s offense: “I think as far as Kumar (Rocker) was concerned, I thought he landed the breaking ball. I thought he was more attacking after the first inning. Those first innings are difficult on any pitcher first time here. The game as a whole is a very difficult one in this tournament. But I thought Kumar just started landing his pitches. We only walked one hitter. So that says a lot about the pitching staff. I thought they were efficient. Kumar had to be in order to get deep into that ball game, into the sixth. (Nick) Maldonado was landing his breaking ball. But I thought we elevated the fastball pretty well in certain situations and threw it just off the plate enough where it ran off their bat.”

On Jayson Gonzalez, who had the game-winning hit: “It’s always good to see a good kid come up for your team, any of them. I’m always happy for them. Jayson is a team guy, always has been. Regardless, whether he’s in the lineup or out of the lineup, he never changes his personality. He’s a phenomenal kid. Will be one of those guys I’ll always be close to. But it’s just good to see what he did throughout the game. He was just very consistent in his at-bats and his approach, drew a walk, a tough walk in the seventh, before Carter (Young) hit that home run, when (Enrique) Bradfield hit him in. Of course the home run and then the hit at the end. Just had a good night. He had a professional night. Happy for him.”

On getting out of the top of the 12th after Arizona got a leadoff double: “I thought (Chris McElvain) contained himself so well and pitched well. That is, to me, that’s a Murderer’s Row right there. Jacob Berry is just such a special hitter, got him to pop up. And after that it was the tough strikeout on (Branden) Boissiere who is an outstanding hitter, and then getting the next out. But that lineup, particularly in the top four or five, is just so devastating. I mean, they’re just good.”