Here is what Louisville coach Dan McDonnell and players Brendan McKay and Devin Hairston had to say after today’s 8-4 win over Texas A&M in the College World Series in Omaha.
COACH MCDONNELL: Well, very happy to be 1-0. It’s the first time in the history of our program even though it’s something we talk about often, you know the 1-0, 1-0 game, but we’re mostly alluding to the regionals. So I’m obviously very happy, very proud of these guys. Knew Texas A&M was not going to fold. You put up a 5 spot with Brendan McKay, you know some teams will cave, they were not going to do that and battled back. Had a lot of great at-bats against them. Fortunately our bullpen stepped up, as it’s done all year, and we trust our bullpen, and Brendan handed the ball over to Sam and Sam to Lincoln and then offensively we kept competing.
It wasn’t the best game of the year, but we understand now as we’ve seen two on TV and played in one, these games aren’t always the cleanest. There’s too much competition. Everybody is playing too hard. It’s not supposed to be smooth and easy. You just gotta grind it out. And I thought today our guys did a really good job of grinding it out.
Q. Colby, what is going through your mind when you’re at the plate and there’s two outs, how do you keep yourself in the zone?
COLBY FITCH: Really just thought about staying really short today, not trying to do too much with it. Like I say, I got down early in some counts on some really good pitches. And then just shortened up and try to do as less — as least as possible and try to move the baseball.
Q. Brendan, how did you feel about your stuff today?
BRENDAN MCKAY: Early on it was working well. First hit of the game 11 or 12 pitches and probably 90 to 95 percent of them were quality pitches, and he was just making good swings to keep moving the count and keep working the count to get a pitch to where he could handle, and he finally got one he could handle a little more. And he got on base.
But outside of that I worked out of a lot of jams. It’s hard to pitch effectively when you’re in jams like that. But I think throughout your career you learn how to pitch and how to minimize, which worked today.
Q. Brendan, obviously you’ve had a lot going on this week with the draft and all these awards and interviews and all that kind of stuff. Was it nice for you just to be able to get out there and play baseball today? What was kind of your mindset and your comfort level out there?
BRENDAN MCKAY: Yeah, absolutely. Since the moment we landed here in Louisville on Thursday or in Omaha on Thursday it was kind of nice just running around, Coach Mack and I went to dinner with the Dick Howser Award Committee people and press conferences on Friday and Saturday, a rush of doing stuff. And today you wake up you’ve got that feeling in your heart, wow, you’re going to play in Omaha again and finally play somebody else since last Saturday or what have it. So it was a good feeling to wake up and know we were playing today.
Q. Devin, just talk about the experience coming out in Game 1 and what the whole environment seemed like for you guys when you were taking the field?
DEVIN HAIRSTON: It was exciting for sure. I remember when the guy hit the double down the right field line for A&M, I’d never been in a stadium that was that loud before.
But you know it was just exciting. This is what we live for. This is what we’ve worked so hard for. And we got to kind of manage that excitement and turn it into focus, I guess, for nine innings or however many innings we have to play each game and make sure we get the job done.
Q. Devin, you guys have had a couple of teams try to come back and take away early leads from you this postseason, I think Radford did it and maybe one other team in the regionals as well. How do you maintain that focus? Like you said, you have this atmosphere added to it as well. So how did you guys do that today?
DEVIN HAIRSTON: I think we’ve had a lot of preparation for moments like that. You know, we practice hard, have controlled scrimmages all the time which kind of mimic the situations that we face in games like that. So I think we’re just prepared and we have the confidence and we trust in all the preparation that we’ve had. And so when those moments do arise, we’re prepared for them.