Vanderbilt-Virginia Postgame Quotes, Game 1

June 22, 2015

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Representing Vanderbilt, head coach Tim Corbin, third baseman Will Toffey, shortstop Dansby Swanson and starting pitcher Carson Fulmer. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH CORBIN: It was just a heck of a pitcher’s duel there to start off with, especially deep into the ballgame. I thought Connor Jones did an outstanding job of just containing us, keeping us off rhythm. We left the zone a few times in the first few innings and we were a little bit snake-bit at times. We had some base-running breakdowns that may have cost us a run early. Whether that would have happened, I don’t know. The first one would have, we would have scored a run there. And then we had some well-hit balls with guys in scoring position. But the one inning that broke it open was Toff’s hit driving, obviously, just staying on the ball and driving it the other way. We did a very nice job the inning after of hitting the ball the other way with two strikes and two outs. Ellison got the inning started, but those key hits by Swanson and Reynolds were big. The effort by Fulmer was just outstanding. It’s such a great memory for him just to pitch his final game — will probably want the ball tomorrow — but pitch his final game here and go deep into the ballgame. I think in that eighth inning it was the right time to get him obviously. But personally I was glad to be able to do that so he would be able to address the crowd, and the crowd would be able to address him. But just a good effort by him and we played some good defense behind him as well.

Q. Carson, in that eighth inning when Coach came out to get you and you’re walking off the mound, fans are standing and teammates greeting you, what’s going through your head and what’s that moment like for you?

Carson Fulmer: Well, obviously, I mean, when I see Coach walking out, I know that’s it. And you have to put all frustration aside. And what made it big for me was not only did I have Coach there but I had the whole infield. And I consider those guys my best friends, and along with the other guys on my team. And for me being able to spend that moment with them and just look back on the brotherhood that we created, and I’m on top of it with a win at the end of the game. So it’s definitely a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and I couldn’t have asked for it to happen any better.

Q. Tim, I guess kind of assess what you kind of thought was working for Carson. And also kind of early after the game here, but kind of reflect on just his legacy that he’s leaving here at Vanderbilt?

COACH CORBIN: Speak about the game first. I just contained the strike zone. I just thought he hit the strike zone all night. The times that he didn’t, a couple of breaking balls got away from him, but even with first and second and one out, that’s really where you see him compete factor. It’s almost like he’ll band but he’s not going to break. He did such a nice job of pitching out of those innings. As the game progresses he just gets stronger. I’ve used Joe Frazier, the fighter, as an analogy because he keeps coming and he keeps throwing punches and he’s just looking for you jaw, he’s not trying to maneuver around you. As a kid, we just haven’t had many like him. He’s one of the most special kids that we’ve ever had on our campus. I mean, this kid’s, like, a 4.0 student. His last term here, when everything — the focus — could be anywhere but on academics, but he just does such a good job, like Dansby, on centering themselves in the moment and containing whatever they have to do. But he’s a special, special competitor, and he’ll go down as one of the greatest pitchers to ever pitch at Vanderbilt. If not the. I don’t want to say the, because we’ve had some good ones, but I’ll tell you what, he’s a special guy.

Q. Will, how confident are you guys as an offense when you have Carson pitching especially when you get those first runs on the board?

Will Toffey: We’re very comfortable when he’s on the mound because we know he’s going to give us opportunities to stay in the game like he did tonight. Just kept putting up zeros on the board and gave us the opportunity to finally crack there like we did.

Q. Dansby, we’ve talked a lot about the value of the experience this team has of last year. How valuable is that experience now with the perspective of still needing to win another game and not looking too far ahead?

Dansby Swanson: I think the thing that we’ve been preaching the past couple of years is just staying in the moment, worrying about what we can control right now. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to worry about tomorrow when it gets here and our preparation when it’s time for that, and then the game when it gets here. Just like we do, try to win innings frame by frame.

Q. Will, your at-bat where you hit the double, were you looking to go left field or was it just a split-second decision whether it was a pitch in the place and it just happened that way?

Will Toffey: It was just a pitch and a place. It just happened that way. It was just an elevated fastball that was out over the plate and up, and I did my best to shoot it that way, and that’s all.

Q. Tim, obviously Carson has pitched a lot of great games at Vanderbilt, but given the circumstances and what’s at stake tonight, is this the best you’ve seen him pitch in three years?

COACH CORBIN: I’m not going to say the best, because he’s had so many. The Florida outing at home was special just because of how that game played out and at the time that game was very important for us. He’s had so many good games. The first game against Louisville last year to open up this thing. And just to come back on short rest against Virginia in Game 3 last year. I mean, you go on and on about him. And I think what is so consistent about him is kind of like Will said. He just gives you a chance to win every single time. The game never gets away from him. And the mentality is so consistent. And he takes such pride in gathering his teammates all the time. I mean, his legacy is the fact that every pitcher from this point forward for us will probably, won’t get off the field until the rest of their teammates do. And that started from him. He just serves other people. He’s just different.

Q. Tim, what were your feelings about Will coming up in that spot in the sixth inning with a couple of runners on in a scoreless game? And also, Dansby, can you address your confidence in the freshman in that moment?

Dansby Swanson: Toff’s been great for us all year long. At this point in in the season you can’t really consider him a freshman anymore because of all the experience he’s had in the fall, going to the Dominican, and then this whole season. He’s got close to 100 games under his belt now, and we trust him in all types of situations whether it’s defensively or offensively. When we saw him come up there we knew he would come through.

COACH CORBIN: Dansby mentioned the Dominican, and we did have him hitting up in the order all the way back to the fall, so we knew he was a mature hitter. What you saw there is his ability to go back and forth on both foul lines, for a young kid is a special skill. He’s got good hands, he’s got good eyesight. He contains himself well at the plate and a very competitive kid.

Q. Dansby, as much as you and Carson have done together over the years, that moment there where he’s coming off the mound, what’s going through your head?

Dansby Swanson: Honestly, well, Coach came out and it was just like, this is probably it. And it’s just special to be able to see him be able to get acknowledged by the crowd and by the guys on the team, just because he’s meant so much to not only me but this team and the university as a whole. And to be able to see that recognition is something special. And I love him to death. He’s my best friend. So I’ll always stand by his side.

Q. Tim, after the base-running slipups earlier, kind of ironic that Zander Wiel beats out the infield single to get the things going in the sixth with the two-out single?

COACH CORBIN: Yeah, we did have some base-running miscues, but Zander’s ball that he actually hit down the line towards the first baseman was well struck. And as I told the kids in the dugout after the game, this game has a way of circling around and coming back and creating fair opportunities for you. And although it wasn’t struck well, it was in the right spot of the field, and these things sometimes do happen. It’s an erratic game. But that other ball could have been over the first baseman’s head but it was caught. We built an inning maybe in an awkward fashion with that ball, and then Bryan walking and of course Will’s great at-bat.

Q. Tim, when was the decision to go with Kyle in the ninth? Was that just a predetermined thing that he’ll be my guy in the ninth or was it something with the particular matchups there?

COACH CORBIN: We were either going to go Sheffield or Kyle Wright. We chose to go with Kyle because he’s been in that situation before. It’s 5-0 so the game is still close, and we just wanted to put an end to it if we could. It got a little bit interesting there towards the end, but he did a nice job of pitching out of it. But I think we’re in pretty good shape, bullpen-wise, with what we have coming back tomorrow.

Representing Virginia, head coach Brian O’Connor, starting pitcher Connor Jones and left fielder Kevin Doherty. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH O’CONNOR: Yeah. That was certainly a great ballgame there. For the first six innings certainly a pitchers’ duel — Connor and Carson really were buckling down and making a lot of big pitches. I was really proud there of Connor, and I thought he really battled and gave it his best out there and gave us a chance. Certainly there in the sixth and seventh inning, Vanderbilt was able to punch a few through and open the game up a little bit. But from their standpoint, Carson Fulmer certainly was tremendous. He pitched the bottom of the zone, did a nice job of changing speeds when we did get a chance to get a few guys on, just didn’t allow us to get that big hit and certainly he’s worthy of all the accolades that he’s received and he’s a tremendous competitor. But I’m proud of our guys. We’ve been in this situation before this year. Certainly we were in this situation going into Saturday against Florida, that if you win, you get to continue your season on, if you don’t, it’s over. So this team has handled that kind of adversity all year long, and I would imagine tomorrow night would be no different.

Q. Kevin, looking at Fulmer, what did you kind of think of his performance? What was he doing? And what adjustments did you guys try to make to kind of counter him a little bit?

KEVIN DOHERTY: No, he did a great job of starting off with the breaking ball for a strike. To me, he started me off with fastballs, which I knew just to get right after him if I was going to see fastballs in the zone. But through Kenny and the middle of our lineup, he did a phenomenal job of getting ahead with the breaking ball and then working in from there. But he did a great job with all of his pitches.

Q. Connor, the Vanderbilt lineup obviously has a lot of threats. And you got through what was kind of the teeth of that in the sixth inning and got to Toffey — maybe a freshman who, I don’t know if you’re expecting him to be able to come up with a hit like that. But what was your approach to pitching him in that situation with two on and two out?

CONNOR JONES: I was obviously going to try to get ahead in the count early. But I was going to try to get after him. It’s not like there’s a place to put him or anything. I thought I made a pretty good pitch, and he just got ahold of it. And you’ve got to credit him for that. He squared up and hit it well, and unfortunately it found a hole for us. But credit him. He squared up and got a hold of it pretty good.

Q. Brian, were you in this situation last year after Game 1, you came back with Brandon and he gave you that complete game. Who do you hand the ball to tomorrow?

COACH O’CONNOR: I don’t know yet, Jeff. Coach Kuhn and I will certainly talk this evening and decide what the right thing to do is. It will not be Brandon Waddell. But we’ll decide. We’ve got some good options and we’re certainly going to need to piece it together tomorrow. We knew that coming into this three-game series that that was going to be the case. So I don’t really know right now.

Q. Brian, kind of echoing off that, obviously you used Josh tonight, how much of an option will he be tomorrow starting or out of the bullpen?

COACH O’CONNOR: I think he’ll be a little bit more of an option tomorrow than he would have been tonight coming out of the pen. I don’t anticipate him being an option to start. I think it will be somewhat limited with him tomorrow.

Q. Brian, kind of the follow-up before of Ro Coleman, Will Toffey got the hit. How tough is it to get through the entire lineup when it doesn’t seem like there’s a weak point in Vanderbilt’s order?

COACH O’CONNOR: I thought Connor did a great job there for five innings of making those big pitches against a good lineup. I think what makes Vanderbilt good from an offensive standpoint, they have three guys there in the middle of the lineup that have proven that they can hit the ball out of the ballpark. They’re athletic. They have five guys in their lineup that I would consider one-runners, which are very, very good runners. And that puts pressure on you. They’ve got a lot of guys that can steal a base throughout the lineup. That said, Connor was close to being able to execute it to get us through 6 or 7. But they did a nice job. They’re tough. They’re competitive at the plate. You have to make your pitches.

Q. Connor, seemed like you had some success mixing I guess four different pitches tonight. What was your approach against those hitters and what do you think you could pass on to the rest of the staff here going forward?

CONNOR JONES: Personally I always just try to go right after guys. But I felt really confident in my split tonight. I thought that was really good. I kind of struggled to find my slider for a while, but it came around. But the guys moving forward, you’ve got to go right after them, and you can’t help them out by falling behind in counts and stuff like that. You’ve got to get right after them and don’t let them beat you.

Q. Kevin, when you’re going that ninth inning, you have done this a lot before. When you kind of get that run and you start to gain some momentum at all or did this feel different than any other times in this tournament?

KEVIN DOHERTY: No, it felt just getting traffic on the bases. We did a great job of that and Jack Gerstenmaier doing a great job with his hit to score the run. But unfortunately their pitcher made some really clutch pitches, sliders out of the zone that I’ve chased on — got us on. But he did a great job of managing with men on. And I think previously sometimes they leave pitches up and we’d create more traffic and you kind of keep going.

Q. Brian, I guess looking at Carson Fulmer, he’s a guy you’ve seen a couple times in your career. I guess putting your baseball fan hat on here, what’s your impression of the guy just overall, after facing him twice in your career?

COACH O’CONNOR: I’m impressed. I saw Carson pitch in high school and he’s continued to develop. I like his competitive spirit. Certainly he’s going to come at you and give it his best. He’s aggressive. He’s certainly proven that he can make big pitches. So you can see why I think maybe he’s won 13 or 14 ballgames and you can see why he had success here in Omaha last year and had success this year. So I would imagine that the guy’s going to be pitching for a long, long time.

Q. Brian, Ernie made a couple of big-time plays in the field tonight. Did you think he would have the impact defensively that he’s had this year at the beginning of the year?

COACH O’CONNOR: Well, when we recruited Ernie we thought he was a really athletic player. Five days before the season I didn’t know that he’d make an impact for us defensively in center field. And here he is playing great defense at second base. This guy, when we turned him into a center fielder five days before the season started and played in center field for a number of games early on until we got a little bit healthier and were able to move him to second base. I like Ernie. He’s aggressive at the plate. He is very athletic defensively, and so he’ll continue to improve and he’s certainly been very, very clutch for us here in the postseason.