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Virginia Head Coach Brian O’Connor

Opening Statement:
“I would first like to say how honored we are to be hosting another super regional at UVa. I’d love to welcome Coach Gillespie and UC Irvine. They obviously have a very, very good ball club. We had the opportunity to play at their ballpark a few years ago and had success out there. But we had a really good understanding of the type of baseball the Anteaters play. We are excited to be playing in Charlottesville this weekend. We also know we are going to have to be at our best. UC Irvine obviously has tremendous pitching, they have a very good defensive club, and they hit .300. If you combine a club that’s hitting .300, fielding .980 as a team and an ERA below three, that’s a very good baseball team. The fans here in town who are going to come out to these games this weekend are going to see two great opponents going at each other. You’re going to see some really great fundamental baseball here at Davenport this weekend. We’re looking forward to it.”

On facing UCI’s Matt Summers:
“He appears to be very, very talented. Obviously he was drafted in the fourth round. It appears he has a really good arm and knows how to pitch. He has a very interesting story in that he was a position player who converted to a pitcher so obviously he is very athletic on the mound. His statistics are very good. The opponents’ batting average against him is very impressive and he doesn’t walk many guys. He has a strikeout an inning. He is going to be as good of a pitcher as we’ve faced all season, there’s no question. I know our guys are looking forward to the matchup tomorrow.”

On having respect for UC Irvine:
“I think our club understands what’s at stake. Obviously when you have a program of the level of Irvine, our players understand the high quality of play and what they are capable of doing. I don’t think there is anything two years ago that has to do with this year. I’m sure half of Coach Gillespie’s team is different that it was two years ago as is half of our team. I don’t know there is a whole lot either one of us can take from that. It’s going to come down to who can play the best fundamental baseball this weekend. Who does the job when they have opportunities. It will be pretty simple. I don’t think our guys are overconfident at all for what we accomplished out there in their ballpark. They ran into a hot Virginia team two years ago and that is what it’s about this time of year. It’s going to be a great weekend of two fundamental ball clubs that play the game the right way.”

On being hot:
“We are playing some of the best baseball that we have played all season long. That’s quite a statement. We haven’t lost many games this year. There have been a few games we have won this season like we all have where maybe we didn’t deserve to win and got away with a few things. The last seven ball games we’ve played we deserved to win. We have done the fundamental things that it takes to be successful all over the field. That being said, that was the last two weeks. This is a new weekend. The team we are playing has been playing really good baseball as of late. We are all in the same position all across the country. Hopefully for our case it can continue.”

On the six-day break:
“They are excited to play. I’ve said all along the game of baseball is meant to be played everyday. We finished up last Sunday in the regional and now we are playing again tomorrow. We have tried to keep them loose; have a little bit of fun. They are ready to play. They want to play. With the heat we’ve been having around here, we’ve been trying to get our practices finished up by noon everyday. We are excited tomorrow to put that uniform on and have the chance to compete again.”

UC Irvine Head Coach Mike Gillespie
Opening Statement:
“I don’t think it’s probably a great idea that we would whine about being here, playing at the No. 1 seed in the nation. They didn’t whine at our place a couple of years ago. It’s obviously a fabulous place. I was actually here about five years ago on a scouting venture when I was with the Yankees. I knew the ballpark was great but what’s been done back here (hall of fame room, clubhouse) is just sensational.

“We know this is a great site and it’s going to be a great crowd. We are going to get perfect Irvine weather and we’re really looking forward to that. We are going to have to play our best to be able to match-up, compete and have a chance. If you’re a competitor, you love that so we’re looking forward to it.”

On facing UVa’s Danny Hultzen:
“We are really looking forward to facing Danny Hultzen for the second time, actually. We thought we had enough of him the first time, to tell you the truth. But as I mentioned before, he couldn’t be a greater challenge. It was clear even then when he was just a freshman that he was special, and was going to be even more special. He has turned out to be that. We are competitors and we like to play against the best and that’s what we have. I think our guys are excited about the challenge and will scratch and claw and see what we can get done.”

On winning a tough UCLA Regional:
“It was a tough regional and we are proud of how we played there. To be really truthful we caught a break when UCLA got beat on Friday where potentially it looked like we would match up with the other first-rounder on that staff, Trevor Bauer. They had to throw him in that loser’s bracket game so we didn’t run into either (Gerrit) Cole or Bauer. Nonetheless, we played three conference champions in Fresno State, USF (San Francisco) and then UCLA. We won two one-run games and played really well. I think what’s important for our guys, always and certainly was the case there and has to be the case here, is that we are full of respect for who we play. At the same time we have to think the formula to succeed is the same no matter who you’re playing. We have to match Hultzen pitch-for-pitch, maybe be one pitch better and play good defense behind him. Typically we have played good defense to back up some good pitching. It’s about trying to get something going. It would be crazy to think we can score seven runs. If we get somebody on base, we have to find a way to get them moving, to skill it up and execute. See if we can’t put together a run here and there and have it be a low-scoring game that we have a chance to win.”

On Virginia and UC Irvine being similar teams:
“As I mentioned, I was here five years ago. So I watched Virginia play. It was clear then and they made painfully clear when we actually played them that they were and are very well-schooled. There is no flaw in their game and it looks to be like there is a variety of ways they can play and win. There seems to be no weakness to me. Clearly that is the recipe that we like to cook up for ourselves. I don’t think it takes a genius to say we all want to be that team. It is certainly our philosophy to be that team.”

On the difference between this Virginia team and the Virginia team two years ago:
“I really haven’t seen them. We’ve had some glimpses from some TV games but it’s not like we’ve seen a lot of them. They seem to be that much more confident, that much more veteran, that much more experienced. Taking Hultzen as an example, he was just a freshman then. Now, he pitched beyond a freshman but he is two years more on the way. I’d like to be his agent. Depending on how they proceed to go about their business, if he were to sign relatively early, I think he’d pitch in the Big Leagues this year. And if he doesn’t he’s pitching in the Big Leagues next year. So he’s that much farther along. But once again it’s a deep pitching staff like that one was. For those that remember they didn’t start Hultzen against San Diego State. Some of these guys are the same guys that wore us out two years ago. So they are an experienced team. I don’t know the statistics relatively speaking, this team to that team, but they appear to be very physical also. You’re thinking they have guys they can run. If there is a difference, it just might be they are a little more mature.”

On the crowd:
“It can make a substantial difference. When I was here five years ago I thought it was a sophisticated crowd. My take was that they weren’t a hostile, nasty, make-it-really-ugly for your team kind of crowd. It is going to be a classy, well-educated crowd and it should be fun. That’s what we think. It’s going to be a good experience for our players. We have been a few places where I don’t think I can say exactly that.”

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