David Pierce spoke yesterday about the pitching, how the team is preparing for Texas Tech, postseason pitching, and the new indoor facility that work will begin on very soon.
On the Texas State win: It was awesome. It didn’t look like we had a snowball’s chance. Just had some great at bats in front of David’s home run. I thought Hibbeler did a great job of being patient. We just didn’t get out of the zone. Then David got the big blow. Really exciting for our team
On if he’s going to buy a lottery ticket after nailing his pre-season prediction of 3 Hamilton HRs: I know my players.
On how the Tuesday win can be used as a springboard for this weekend: It’s great. You know as an offense you feel very comfortable there’s never a lead you can’t overcome. Baseball starts on the mound, and we’ve got to get so much better from our starting pitching all the way through because everything is fed off of our pitching and catching. If we’re not good there, the momentum disappears quickly. We’ve got to attack that.
On if a walk-off win masks some poor parts of Tuesday’s game: I think in the moment it definitely does. It allows you to get your thoughts together as opposed to making a list of how you’re going to chew everyone out. We have some guys that don’t give up on themselves. As long as they don’t give up on themselves and they’re preparing their bodies, the coaching staff is not going to give up on them either because we need them. We’re just probably going to have to start narrowing it down to about eight guys that are our most dependent guys right now.
On trying to take a series from a nationally elite team: You can take it from a couple of different angles. I think it’s a challenge. We know we’re going to play a very good team at their place. I think they’ve lost two games there all year. Oklahoma was really an inning away from taking two out of three in Lubbock. We took two out of three on the road against Oklahoma. Baylor’s playing really well right now and took two out of three from Tech at home. There’s a lot of parody in our league even though they’re probably the most elite team right now. It really is going to come down to being confident, being patient, continuing to do little things right, and giving ourselves an opportunity. I have no problem if we give up multiple home runs if they’re solos. I think they can really hit. I just want to see us attack the strike zone and make them earn it.
On if they can have success if the starters aren’t getting into the sixth or seventh: They’re getting there. They’re going to get there. It’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to have dependency on our starters to get the weekend going.
On if he mentions that to his starting rotation: The thing is most of the time they’re frustrated and they don’t want to come out of the game, and that’s a great sign. They want to get out of their own mess. They’re going to probably have some opportunity to do that now, plus we have a week off after this series. If we beat them up a little bit because of extending them, they’re going to get a little extra rest before we get into the Texas State game and the TCU series.
On if fourth starter will be by committee or if there’s a pitcher he has in mind: First of all, I’m not a skeptic about it at all, but I don’t think that we’re a shoo-in yet. I really think that we’re in a great position, but we still could not make a regional, make a regional and go on the road, or host a regional. That piece of it is still a question mark. We’ve got to do a lot of things right. If you’re asking who’s going to be a fourth starter right now, I have no idea. We’re still waiting on that. I would probably say it would be a short leash for whoever started.
On his familiarity with Dan Law Field: I just know about it. Honestly, I haven’t been there since I played in the mid-80s, and it was somewhat by choice.
On if he talks to his batters or his pitchers about the wind effect: We always talk to the pitchers about pitching the ball low in the zone. I think that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t pitch a guy like Parker Joe in West Virginia, because he’s a ground ball pitcher. In West Virginia, there’s real bouncy turf where you get some cheap hits. Parker Joe is going to be a guy, Andy McGuire, maybe you see a Jake McKenzie, some guys who sink the ball a little bit more to potentially keep the ball in the ballpark and keep the ball on the ground. As far as our hitters, I don’t want them to change their approach. I think when you hit right, you’re trying to hit line drives in the gap. When you mi**** that, that’s what gets out of the park. We want to just think line drive, back spin, gap-to-gap, and just continue that same approach.
On if he’s had a pitching staff full of first year arms before: I’ve never had to piece it the way we’re piecing it. It’s just what it is right now. We’ve got two 23 year-olds in the back end who haven’t pitched in two years. We have a young man from Italy that’s a JC kid, first year here. Then we have a lot of freshmen that are trying to fill a role. The lack of consistency from some of those guys. The one thing I refuse to go to and really we have yet to talk about is we have three to four guys that came in with injuries that are frontline possible guys that those are missing pieces right now. We’re not even talking about the draft. We’re talking about guys like Donny Diaz, Cole Quintanilla, Tristan Stevens when he’s healthy. We’re having to work and push everybody up a spot, and that’s been a challenge. It really has.
On Bryce Elder could get a start: If we got into the postseason. Right now we’re kind of set with who we want to start on the weekends. They haven’t been tremendous, but they’ve been pretty solid. He has played that role. I would say, to the previous question, if we were in a situation right now it would probably be an Elder in a game four in the regional.
On letting Nolan Kingham see his brother’s major league debut: That’s one of those deals in baseball that’s kind of like Christmas morning, it’s Easter day. Those are special days. The coincidence of us being an hour and a half away from Pittsburgh. Nolan came into my office and said ‘Coach, it’s not public yet but Nick’s going to start on Sunday. Is there any opportunity I could do that?’ I knew his teammates would be behind him. I knew he was going to throw on Friday. His parents were there. I just thought it was so special, and then the way it turned out for Nick and the family was unbelievable. I’m glad Nolan and his family got to enjoy that. It was a special day for them and for Nick.
On how important the new indoor facility is and some specifics that will be added: The new indoor is something we started attacking when we first got here. First, I’d just like to thank all the donors that have contributed to that, especially a couple of the late ones in Roger (Clemens) and Dan Brown, some really major contributors. We have approximately 18,000 square feet behind our stadium seating in right field. Our interest is to come right out of the clubhouse where we’re out of the weather immediately. Convenience is the first thing. We’ll have our pitching lab with all of our gadgets, Rapsodo and TrackMan, and so we’ll have a pitching lab there. Off to that, we’ll have retractable netting. The retractable netting allows that to be a multipurpose space where we can go one big cage, two cages, we can divide it up for camps, then off of that we’re going to move into an open ended weight room. Take our weight room indoors and that’s going to become more of a life skills area, potentially a player’s lounge area. Then in the additional phases we’re hoping to have an auxiliary locker room, possibly an umpire locker room, restrooms there, and then above that we want to have our coach’s offices where you can actually see the field. Then on the other side of the hallway you can look through glass and see the indoor. It’s very convenient. It allows us to have eyes everywhere. It’s unbelievable for recruiting. Recruiting is always the essence of your program, but development. Right now, we have no space for development. Everything we have here at Disch-Falk is unbelievable, but we truly have no indoor. If it’s raining, if it’s lightning, if we’ve got 30 degree weather in January, or late spring, or even early fall, we have no conveniences there. It’s going to really contribute to our development as well.
On how much say he had and if he got ideas from other programs: You always do that. The architect was very good when we came in last fall. It’s still not finalized because it’s a sketch. It’s a rendering. From the rendering, now we’ve got to get into the nuts and bolts of the mechanical pieces, the blueprint itself. I feel like we had a lot of input, which I think is important because as a coach you know what’s important for you program. I’ve been involved in some facility upgrades or new facilities and had really, really tiny dugouts, or something that is very important to a team that gets overlooked. I think they were very receptive of our opinion and our thoughts on the project. Really, really excited about that. Chris (Del Conte) getting behind this and immediately making that something that is a priority for us and a priority for the department.
On when they’d like to break ground or other target dates: We’ve talked about summer, at least the demolition of it. I would like to start it where it goes from the demolition right into the structure. I’m hoping toward the end of summer, mid to end of summer. They’ve really done a great job of expediting this project it sounds like. I’m not that involved day to day right now, but what I’m hearing is there’s a great opportunity we’ll start hopefully mid-summer.
On the weekend series and how he wants his team to come into this weekend: First of all, I think we’re in a great position to make a regional. I think our league has been balanced like that all year. Take a Baylor team that came in here and we swept. They can pitch and they’re a very good team. They leave here and I think they’ve won 12 of 13 and 10 straight. Oklahoma State, we won two out of three at home, they take off, they sweep TCU at home. You just see a lot of positive parody as far as talent. I’ve always said the SEC, the ACC, the Big 12 are all player’s leagues. It’s our job to get out there and give them the information, prepare them, then you’ve got to let them play. It’s going to come down to our guys coming up with the clutch hit, making a pitch when the games on the line. I don’t see any blowouts from our ends, so I just think it’s going to be a pitch by pitch, inning by inning type of series for us