bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the weekend at Minnesota?
Rocky Ward: Overall on the weekend we really pitched well and were pathetic with the bats. The Metrodome, I'd never been in there and when you see it on t.v. all you see is the big baggie in right and they used to call it the homer dome but it's a really big field. Left center is about 425, 430. The field is a rectangular field, it's short to right, 343 down the line to left and straight away is 408 but that's not the deepest part of the park, it kind of keeps going, it's squared off. It's a big yard and we did not swing the bat with runners in scoring position very well.
We got an outstanding outing out of Michael Ormseth to beat Minnesota 4-1. Minnesota played really well in game two, we didn't play terrible by any stretch but they played well and won and we didn't play well enough to win it. The Nebraska game was tough because we had a great outing out of Beck and we had a lot of opportunities to score and just couldn't drive any runs in. In fact, the last two games were that way. We just could not get the final hit to put them away. We knocked starting pitcher out against Nebraska and he was one of their best guys. They had to go to the bullpen, I think they used five more pitchers, six total I think. We got every one of them on the ropes pretty much but just couldn't get that extra run. All you need in a 4-2 game is one more run, that kind of puts it out of reach, we just couldn't get it done.
Then we got put in a situation where Scotty [Coffman] came in and got a ground ball, not really out of reach, in the glove of Parker Hipp and he couldn't handle it on the dive in the hole, just a regular ground ball, good pitch and then he [Coffman] makes a mistake to the next hitter and the guy hits it in the gap for a triple to get within one and then we had to play the infield in and a guy hits a medium line drive to right and then follows with a home run. It was just bam, bam, bam, gives up four hits, two of them were hit really hard but the other two were just seeing eye type of things. It was a game that wasn't lost by Scott Coffman, it was lost by my offense's inability to score more than the four runs they scored in the second.
That was the disappointment with the weekend and any time on a weekend when a New Mexico State team averages less than three runs per game, you're going to be disappointed with that. But you look back to it and every starting pitching performance gave us a chance to win. We got wonderful pitching performances out of Ormseth and Beck, they'll beat anybody with those types of performances. Casey Collins and Tim Torsney gave us good solid winnable pitching performances if we swing the bats. We weren't completely pathetic with the bats. We lined out or flew out to left about 20 times. It's just a big, big ballpark. It was one of those weekends where we would have hit six or seven home runs had we been at home. Zach Voight finally got one on Sunday and he got it as much as he could hit it. He finally got one and it went about six or seven rows deep. Lecount had a couple that stayed in the yard, Voight had a couple in the series that stayed in the yard and Waite had one that he hit to real deep left-center that the guy ran down. Overall, we didn't really swing the bats terrible, we just didn't swing the bats well with runners in scoring position. We had a lot of opportunities with runners at second or runners at second and third or at third where a hitter just gave me a terrible at bat. Swing at a breaking ball in the dirt, swing at a pitch he can't handle very well, that kind of thing. Then we'd follow it up with a line drive or vice versa so we were only getting half the offense clicking. It was frustrating for us.
The West Virginia game on Sunday, we had their guy on the ropes. We had three runs in, had them second and third with nobody out with Hipp and Fisher coming and you're thinking, "we're going to blow this away right now" and they both strike out and we don't score again in the inning. If we score there, none of what happened later in the game would have happened. We're used to controlling momentum in games with our offense.
I talked to the club after the game and I told them, we do have to get used to, because for the first time we have the ability, we have to get used to controlling the game with defense. I admitted to them that part of it is my fault as a coach because we've always had pitching staff that were always bend but don't break or bend and break sometimes so we knew that when we had a lead we still had to score because we knew we'd give up something later. We've had a couple games this year where we didn't score late or we didn't score again with the lead and we pitched well enough to win them. There were a couple games that we didn't play good enough defense behind the pitching staff to play that type of game.
We'll see. I'm going to make some adjustments in the lineup, not any major changes in personnel but I'm going to move Tanner Waite up in the lineup. He's hitting .210 but he's worried about it. I moved him down the lineup to kind of take a little pressure off him because led off to begin the year. He hit a bunch of balls hard this weekend but then he kind of had some at bats where he got too aggressive, swung at some bad pitches and got himself out. When he's batting at the top of the lineup I think he pays much more attention to his pitch selection and I think it'll bring his discipline back a bit. We're going to split Hipp and Fisher up and put Zach Voight in the four hole. He's been maybe the most consistent hitter in terms of hitting the ball hard, especially under pressure. It kind of puts him in the middle there. Then we'll move Lecount up into the six hole and Edwards into the seven. Cody Edwards is going to be a real factor some time this season, he just isn't quite ready to take on the role of what's expected out of a middle of the lineup guy for me. He's really got plus skill but we expect guys to hit 20 home runs and hit .350. We expect them to go out and give us good at bats. If that means fouling off a couple of pitches and drawing a walk, that's what they need to be able to do and he's not quite ready to take on that responsibility but I think as the year moves on he will. He's a smart enough kid and watching him perform, he's a calm kid. He's pretty intense but he's pretty calm in approaching game situations. I'm pleased with his progress and I think he has a chance to be a dominating hitter, I've just got to give him a chance to work his way into it, I can't throw him into it a little bit too quick.
The weekend, there were a lot of good things about it. I'm disappointed, the kids are disappointed. We played and pitched well enough to win. Our defense was pretty solid. If we had won the Nebraska game, I think it would have led to a win against West Virginia. I think we would have won three out of four. I don't think we lost to West Virginia because of the Nebraska game but once they tied us, that feeling you had when you got beat by Nebraska kinda comes back to you. It's hard to fight, I don't care how strong you are mentally. We would have at at least two wins under our belt and probably would have approached the West Virginia game with a little more confidence and energy.
Not completely displeased with the weekend. I think it makes the next five games pretty important to us, the UNM game and then Kent State who is going to come in with a 1.90 ERA. We're going to see a pretty good pitching staff, one of the six NCAA Regional teams from last year, they were the conference champions of their league. It'll be quite a challenge.
I think we're starting to realize that we have the pieces we need to have a quality pitching staff. It was a weekend where we pitched good enough to sweep all four and maybe that's where as a coach the disappointment lies. We got what historically we've been waiting for.
bc.net: Michael Ormseth has really started to emerge as a second ace behind Ryan Beck and has shown the ability to have dominant type outings.
RW: He showed the ability to do that in the fall. This is a Las Cruces kid that played in a tough situation at Luna. He was a very good pitcher but he didn't have very good defensive support. I don't know for sure, I only think he won a few games at Luna. His record in junior college was well below .500 but most of that was because of the support. He really had a great fall, we had high expectations, he gave me a really good outing in the Sunday game against Wake. It was a gutty outing where we didn't play very good defense but he gutted it out. The game against Minnesota was a big game for him because he went out and showed he could give you a dominant performance. I'm very pleased with what he's done, I'm not surprised at all.
bc.net: What are you looking for out of your club against UNM and then Kent State this weekend as far as being able to get back on track with runners in scoring position?
RW: It's one of those stats that's hard to assess on paper. My disappointment was we gave away too many at bats, either got too aggressive or weren't aggressive enough. I had hitters going to the plate and taking two strikes on pitches I know they can hit. We're going to go the plate and there'll be cases where we take two strikes but those are pitches that they aren't going to handle very well and they're trained not to swing at them. But at the same time we had some guys that struggled either by being not aggressive enough toward their strike zone or overly aggressive where they went out and swung at everything. If you have runners in scoring position and guys are giving you good at bats, they're fighting and clawing, you've got to tip your hat to the pitcher on occasions because they're throwing good pitches. You don't mind getting beat by the guy on the mound. What you don't like is when the hitter swings at a breaking ball in the dirt or swings at a fastball around his eyes, those types of things. Or he doesn't swing at a fastball coming right down the middle. That's kind of where we are. We have to kind of rework this club a little bit, rebuild some guys. Part of the reason for the change in lineup is to give guys a little different feel. Kind of restructure it so that there's maybe a little bit less pressure on some guys to drive in some runs and maybe a little bit more responsibility on a couple others. Overall I'm not concerned with it yet. I'm more concerned with guys really understanding and getting a little better grasp on when it's okay to go out and be a little bit overaggressive and a little bit under aggressive. We're going to be okay in that regard.
The Kent State series will be another pretty good challenge. I expected Sacred Heart to be a little bit bigger challenge than what it ended up being. I don't think that'll be the case with Kent State. They come from a little bit more competitive league and they've gone out and played some pretty good people. They got a win over Georgia Tech when they were ranked in the Top 10 to open the season. They struggled this weekend, they lost two out of three but they were all good games. They can pitch pretty well and their offensive numbers, they've got a little bit of power to go with a sub 2.00 team ERA. I think it'll be a good challenge at home and they may be a more competitive club than Wake Forest and Wake Forest went out and won six in a row.