Clemson vs South Carolina CWS post game notes and quotes (Game 2)


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THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Clemson players Mike Freeman, Casey Harman and Coach Jack Leggett. Opening statement, Coach.

COACH LEGGETT: Obviously, this is a press conference you want to try to avoid, but I will tell you this: I'm 100 percent extremely proud of our baseball program and our baseball team and how our kids battled. And this whole season, from start to finish, shows the character of our team and the toughness of our team.

And I'm extremely proud of how we battled tonight and last night. And we got beat, but we hold our heads high. We have a tremendous group of young men. I'm very proud that I can call myself their coach. And once we leave this room, we're just going to start building on next year and try to get ourselves back here in the new stadium and continue to keep working at it.

But I'm just very proud of my team.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Jack, this is a game of momentum. When did Clemson lose its momentum?

COACH LEGGETT: I don't know if you can say we lost our momentum. South Carolina played a very good game last night. I think anybody would have come out of that game thinking they lost a little momentum. But we played well tonight. We couldn't quite string together a big inning, but we battled all night long. It was heck of a game. Both teams are very good baseball teams. So I'm not sure there's any time where anybody lost any momentum.

Q. Jack, could be off by one. It's either 31 hits and 29 were singles or 30 hits and 28 were singles. And there's talk on the TV monitor about the fact that it's tough to advance the championship series here when you're basically not hitting the gaps, not knocking it out. Could you talk a little bit about the lack of power?

COACH LEGGETT: We didn't get a whole lot of pitches hit last night. And the kid did a pretty decent job tonight for a while. And that's not something I think a whole lot about. Like to bang a couple of balls out of the ballpark, put a few more in the gap in certain situations.

But we hit a lot of singles in the first game against Arizona State and won the game. So it's just a matter of getting people on base and getting people on at the beginning of the innings and being able to move runners around. I think that has more to do with it than anything else.

Q. Jack, just thoughts on the way that they pitched for two games after kind of having to come through the loser's bracket to still have something left for you guys for the last two.

COACH LEGGETT: They pitched well last night, I know that. For sure, that kid did a nice job, their relief pitcher. And he did what he had to do. That's when people have to step up and he stepped up for them tonight. I thought we had our opportunities. I saw some different times in that game where I thought we had a chance to get to Dyson, and he held it together pretty good.

And the relief pitching was pretty decent. So, you know, they had some good depth. They've been pitching pretty well later in the year, I've ben noticing, anyway. Our kids did a great job, Casey did a great job. He battled out there. Our kids hung in there and did well.

Just two good teams banging it out, that's all there is to it. At this stage when you get to here, to me it's about playing to try to get into that national championship game and it doesn't matter who you're playing. It's not we're not in the state of South Carolina right now, we're on the national stage. And I think that's how it has to be looked at.

I think the STATE should be proud of both teams. Both teams played well and both teams are banging away at the end and that's something to be proud of, I think.

Q. Mike, obviously the season didn't end quite the way you wanted but it was a very special season. Talk to us a little bit about your feelings as a senior, about how special this season was for the Tigers.

MIKE FREEMAN: I mean, it's definitely a special season going into it. It's exactly how I didn't want it to end in Omaha. I would have liked to have it end Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

But getting here is something special. The whole event is something special. And then to share it with the guys on our team and such good friends and brothers that I've made along the way, it just makes it that much more special. And with this coaching staff, as much as they care about our players, it's awesome to come here and experience Omaha in its last season at Rosenblatt.

So it's a special season, and coming to Omaha made it more special. It's tough to have to go away early, but it's a special season, nonetheless.

Q. So same thing, Mike, can you describe the contrast in emotions from how up you guys were 2 0 at that practice the other day to the way that you guys feel right now, just how quickly things change there?

MIKE FREEMAN: Yeah, I mean, it's a contrast from winning and losing. And, I mean, after we win, of course we're going to feel good. After any loss we're going to feel bad. So regardless, if it's the last loss in the season, any loss we don't feel good after. And we kind of feel the same way.

So it's tough to not many teams can end their season with a win. So other teams feel this way, and the guys that are coming back, it's nice for them to experience this and know what it's all about.

And there's a lot of really good players coming back, and they've got a really good chance to come here next year. So I know they're excited about that opportunity of getting started on next season after today.

Q. Casey, talk a little bit about your outing tonight and what was working for you and how you could continue to battle out there. And if, Coach, if you could say a few words about what Casey brought for you guys tonight.

CASEY HARMAN: It was a tough game. It was a battle. And they did a good job putting the ball in play. They got that run in the 1st inning, and after that it, was feeling it out. And kind of got in a little groove and the kid hit the home run.

It was a good, good fought game. It was a pitching battle. It's tough to go out like that in the last time of the season. And I don't even know what to say. Just let it go and just move on from it. You know, it's been a great season, special season, and I'm proud of everyone on the team.

And the guys going away, you know, it's always a sad day to end the season. And there's only one team that's going to be happy at the end of the year. And unfortunately it's not us this year.

COACH LEGGETT: Casey's meant a lot to us all season long. We wouldn't be here without him, that's for sure. And he's always pitched in big games. And I expected him to pitch like he did tonight because he was ready to have the ball. He did a great job for us. I wish we could have gotten him a few more runs along the way. But he battled for us.

It wouldn't have been the game it was without him competing on the mound like he did.

Q. Jack, playing in the 7th inning, runner trying to steal second. Looks like there could have been interference with the plate. What was your vantage point to that and what did the umpire tell you?

COACH LEGGETT: It was strike 3 if I'm not mistaken. He went across the plate, and anytime that happens, it makes it difficult for the catcher to make a clear throw to second. You don't have to make any contact for it to be interference, but he saw it differently than I saw it.

Q. Players, you have an awful lot to be proud of and every season has to end at some point, but is it just a little bit more disappointing, a little bit more bitter to lose twice in a row to South Carolina here and given the stakes and the intensity of the rivalry?

MIKE FREEMAN: I don't think it matters who we lose to to end our season. We lost to a really good opponent, that's the bottom line. Regardless of who it is, it's never fun to lose. So it doesn't make it any worse. They're a really good team. They're going to represent our region, represent our state well.

All we can do now is cheer for them in the end and hope they bring it back for South Carolina. And just the fact that there were two South Carolina teams in the College World Series speaks about the quality of our baseball.

So we lost to a good team. They played really well. They played well enough to advance. So we can't hold that against them. And we wish them the best of luck.

Q. Coach, you and Ray Tanner obviously faced off so many times, and I noticed there was a little moment at the end. Could you share what you guys said at the end of the game there?

COACH LEGGETT: Well, we both, I think, have a lot of respect for each other and for each other's programs. And every game we play it's a very tough game. Top to bottom. And it's well fought, well played, both teams played hard.

I think he was relieved, I think, and I was disappointed. And we see each other. We can be friends and we respect each other. We see each other around town and so forth and stop and speak to each other and families talk.

And so it's always tough. It's always tough. Somebody's going to walk away happy. Somebody's going to walk away disappointed. And I think when you have respect for each other like that, it's always tough to deal with that on either side, probably. And I think that's probably where he was. You can ask him.

But I want to congratulate them. They played well. They did what they had to do. We both have had great seasons. We both had difficult times during the course of the year and ended up in the top three or four in the country, and I think that's something for both programs to be proud of. And I'm going to be extremely proud of my baseball team. And that's the way I'm going to remember the season.

Q. Jack, I know it's tough for a loss but this is saying good bye to Rosenblatt. Even though you've never walked out of here with the title, you guys have had some good times out here. Could you say a few words about this place?

COACH LEGGETT: I'm glad you asked that question because I want to tell the people of Omaha and the people that are associated with the College World Series that this is a first class championship. Our kids are treated first class. The people are outstanding in the way they cheer for all the teams. They appreciate good baseball.

Will Boyd's catch in the 8th inning, whatever inning that was in right field, everybody appreciates good baseball and how kids hustle. And I've been telling these kids what the experience at Rosenblatt is all about. I've been here as a player 30 years ago or so. And I've never forgotten what it's like and I try to portray that to our players.

From the player's standpoint and from a coaching standpoint, I've been here six times now. And it just keeps getting better and better. And everybody treats you like it's every bit what I built it up to, I think. And I think the players will tell you the same thing. Everything we talked about, how exciting it is and how people treat you and the autographs and everybody wants to touch you and everybody wants to get a piece of what your program's all about.

There's no better championship. There's no better place. Rosenblatt's been an unbelievable I've got memories as a player and as a coach. But the people are awesome. The people will take their show from here, a couple miles away, to the new stadium. There will be another awesome situation in a new stadium. And I hope we can be one of those teams that plays in the last games at Rosenblatt and the first games at the new stadium. That will be our goal, what we'll focus on. But the people here are awesome, and I want to thank everybody in the city of Omaha and all the volunteers and all the people that run the championships, awesome, awesome situation.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.


General Notes:


*-Prior to this season, the last time that both brackets needed an ‘if necessary’ game was in 1988, the first year of the current two-
bracket format.

*-This is the 292nd meeting between Clemson and South Carolina, with Clemson holding a 167-123-2 lead after South Carolina’s
win tonight. South Carolina won the season series, 3-2.

*-South Carolina now takes the series lead in NCAA Tournament games, 4-3.

*-Since the inception of the two bracket format in 1988, teams that forced an “if necessary” elimination game are now 13-6 in such decisive games. Four of those 13 teams (most recently Oregon State in 2006) have gone on to win the national championship.

*-Neither South Carolina or UCLA have won a baseball national championship, ensuring a first-time champion for the third time since 2006.

*-Monday’s MCWS Championship Finals opener will be the first-ever matchup between UCLA and South Carolina.


South Carolina

*-With tonight’s win, South Carolina is now 21-17 all-time in nine trips to the MCWS, including a 15-8 record in elimination
games.

*-South Carolina is 4-0 in elimination games in the 2010 MCWS (the Gamecocks did not play an elimination game in either the regional
or super regional rounds). They will attempt to become the first national champion to lose their first MCWS game since Oregon State in 2006, and only the third team to win a title after losing the opener in the current two-bracket format.

*-South Carolina is now 101-56 in NCAA Tournament play, including two or more wins each of the past 11 seasons. South
Carolina improves to 9-1 in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

*-South Carolina, which has never won a national championship, has finished runner-up three times – 2002, 1977 and 1975.

*-South Carolina is now 29-4 when holding an opponent to three runs or less.

*-South Carolina has played in all three one-run games in this MCWS, winning two and losing one. They are now 8-7 this season in one-run games; five of their last six games have been one-run contests dating back to the super regional.

*-South Carolina’s bullpen is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, fanning 17 without a walk over 13.1 innings in the MCWS.

*-As a pitching staff, South Carolina has a 2.68 ERA in five MCWS games with 40 strikeouts and eight walks while holding opponents to a .202 batting average. The Gamecocks have held all five opponents in Omaha to four runs or less.

*-Jackie Bradley, Jr. extended his hit streak to 21 games tonight and is now 8-for-19 (.421) with nine RBIs and nine runs scored in the MCWS, the most RBIs and runs for any player in this series.

*-Christian Walker’s fourth-inning homer was his ninth of the season and third of the NCAA Tournament (two in this MCWS). His 2-4 performance boosts the freshman’s MCWS average to .400 (8-20) with two homers and five RBIs in the MCWS.

*-Walker is hitting .395 (17-43) in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

*-Whit Merrifield went 3-5 with a single, double and triple (his first of the year) in his first three plate appearances. The last player to hit for the cycle in a MCWS game was Minnesota’s Jerry Kindall in 1956.


Clemson

*-Clemson has posted a 12-24 record in 12 MCWS appearances. The Tigers’ third-place finish equals the school’s best, a feat they have now accomplished three times (also 1996 and 2002).

*-Clemson began both the 2002 and 2010 MCWS with two victories, but dropped consecutive games to South Carolina both seasons to be eliminated.

*-Clemson set a school record for most NCAA Tournament games played (11) in a single season.

*-The only ACC school to win a national title was Wake Forest in 1955.

*-The Tigers own a 108-77 (.587) all-time mark in 35 NCAA Tournament appearances.

*-Today (6/26) marks the latest date on the calendar that Clemson has ever played a game.

*-The Tigers have now scored in 137 straight games, dating back to 5/24/2008. The streak ranks fourth in Clemson history.

*-28 of Clemson’s 31 MCWS hits in four MCWS games have been singles.

*-Brad Miller’s 0-4 performance snapped a 20-game hitting streak. Miller had hit safely in 30 of his past 31 games and had gone hitless just one time since April 21.

*-Clemson starter Casey Harman, who suffered the loss and ends his season with an 8-4 record, went 6. 1 innings and worked five-or-more frames in 26 of his last 27 starts.

*-Clemson, which turned two double plays today, finishes second in the nation with 81 DPs turned on defense. Southern Mississippi (84) had the nation’s highest total.

*-John Hinson went 2-3 with a run scored tonight to finish the MCWS with a team-high .438 average.

*-Clemson hit .237 in the MCWS after hitting .349 in seven NCAA games before coming to Omaha. Clemson had 34 extra-base hits in those seven games.

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