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College World Series: Pat Casey Addresses State of Pac-12 Baseball, Steven Kwan Injury, and Pitching Rotation in Postgame Presser

The Oregon State coach answered some important questions from the media following the elimination game win over Washington.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Cal State Fullerton vs Oregon State Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Beavers’ win over Washington in the College World Series on Monday, Pat Casey took questions from members of the media. He addressed several important topics, including how the weather delay and injuries will affect his approach moving forward in the tournament.

Questions from the media and moderator are in bold.

Opening Statement:

“Well, you know, crazy game. Long day. I thought our guys came out really prepared after the rain delay. We were kind of scuffling out of the chute. Got a big hit out of Tyler Malone. But really appreciate the way they hung with it and got themselves a win.”

Pat, you had the bases loaded there when they called the rain delay. How did you feel going into the rain delay and how concerned were you with the way your team would handle it, given that you were in a pretty good situation when the rain delay was called?

“Yeah, you know, you probably would prefer that momentum we had going to let him get to the plate. We can’t control certain things. One of them certainly is the weather. But I felt good about Tyler. I mean, he’s a streaky guy. And he went up and swang at the first pitch, gave us a huge lift. I was going to wait and hit him for Preston, and then I said we may not get to that point. So he hasn’t had an opportunity to go out there defensively. So, you know, that part was a concern. But I thought we needed a lift. We were down 3-0, and we needed somebody to give us a lift. And he certainly did.”

Pat, in the first game, in the first four innings of this game, what did you see from your team that was so different from what you’ve seen from this club pretty much the whole year, and what did you kind of see after that?

“Well, you know that if you take any club in the country, and you can go through certain times and they don’t score a lot of runs or they don’t hit. Just hitting is so contagious. And we played Hartford, I think, at the beginning of the year, three, four games, and man we struggled and struggled and struggled. And then we played Stanford, and boom, boom, boom. We just needed to get something that would get us going and a little excited. And I think a couple of those guys in the middle were trying to do it all at one time instead of do what we do. And we got some base runners. We got some energy, and then we were off to the races.”

We just saw two West Coast teams battle it out and play pretty competitively, until you pulled away. Was it in your mind, did you enter the postseason thinking you needed to make a statement for your league, for the West Coast, that narrative is out there that that side of the country has been disrespected over the last few years?

“Well, I do think it’s difficult to get as much attention on the West Coast as you get in the SEC and the ACC. There’s a lot of things happening there. And so we feel like we can play with anybody. And it is nice to see teams come out here from the West Coast. I would have preferred to be playing somebody else than somebody in our conference, that’s for sure, but that’s the way the brackets are set up.”

“So I’ve got a lot of respect for Washington’s players, the way they play. I think they play hard. I think they’re great kids. They had a heck of a season. But I do think that we’re always trying to take a stand. We talk about that a little bit, always as coaches what can we do to -- I think our conference -- I mean, if you look at the SEC and they put in the headset, they put in the replay. You know, they’re on the cutting edge, you know? And I just think baseball needs to be elevated in our conference and promoted and be more important. That’s my personal opinion. And I think we could play anybody in the country.”

Coach, can you kind of walk us through what happened with Steven Kwan and with him out of the lineup, how did that change your approach going forward?

“Well, you know, I had no option. He had come in said he felt a hammy and he couldn’t run. So next man up. Happened to be Preston Jones and puts the ball in the right field corner and gets us going with it. And Preston is going to be a good player. He just doesn’t have the experience. Kwanny arguably down the stretch has been as good as anybody in our club. He does so many things for us. So that’s a tough one there. I don’t know how that’s going to turn out. I don’t know if he’s going to play again.”

“If he can, I know Kwanny, he will.”

Just on Kevin Abel, were you hesitant at all to put him back out there after throwing the 17 pitches and lengthy rain delay? What was the thinking and the process of him getting ready again?

“No, not with that few number of pitches and a guy that hasn’t thrown for, you know, nine days. The kid’s strong. I think that we kind of work guys into not pitching as much as we do -- make them go back in the game a few years back, the guys pitched a lot. Sometimes guys pitched double headers, then we came up with this thing if we have a middle guy and a setup guy and a closer, we can really confuse everybody and drag this game on for three hours and 54 minutes. We’re only here nine hours today so we wanted to make sure we did it right.”

Obviously with Kevin likely to be your starter in the next game, I guess at this point who would maybe be in the mix to be that guy then to pitch?

“You know, that’s a good question. And we’ll talk about that tomorrow when we see how everybody feels. There’s people who have to throw on short rest here. Abel would have been the guy had we been in a situation that he could have.”

“If we didn’t win, we’re going home. So he was the best option. And he was outstanding. And you gotta win one at a time. And I’ve been here before. And we had some guys really step up and throw on short rest and throw a lot of pitches and won a lot of games in a row.”

“Somebody’s going to have to do it, maybe a reliever that hasn’t started. There’s a few guys that you can look at that have been in games that started. Gambrell is one of those guys, Eisert could start. There’s a bunch of options.”

From Washington’s standpoint and going back to your first trip, is there something that you learned in your first trip in the College World Series that you can carry over and build from that you remember?

“Absolutely. I think I’ve told this story before. But we played -- we got eliminated in two straight in ‘05. I come in the locker room, and the guys are hanging their head. I’m saying guys, this is crazy. You’re in the College World Series. Monumental task to come here to get here and then to win.”

“And so I tried to get them pumped up a little bit to realize that this is a huge step in what we’re trying to do. And I was walking out of the stadium at Rosenblatt. Had my jersey thrown over my shoulder. Last guy out. Todd Stansbury, our associate at the time, was walking with me, the guy’s pushing a kid up in the wheelchair. I turned around and looked at Stansbury, and I said, ‘That’s why guys have to appreciate what they’re doing.’ I took my uniform and I laid it on the kid’s lap. He had a Texas hat on, and his dad looked at me said, Wow, thanks, Coach. Two weeks later I got an email saying that his grandfather graduated from Oregon State. I said I know we’re going back now. You know what I mean? Great things happen here.”

“I’ll tell you what, if you watched Washington in the middle of the season, you wouldn’t have thought they would be here. Had to win a Regional clear across the country. Went back, won the Supers. I know those guys are going to in a day or two really feel like this is not only a great time for us but also a great motivator for what we can do in the future.”