bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on sweeping the WAC Player of the Week awards?
Rocky Ward: It's cool. Beck's was well deserving and Phillips, he was hurt for three out of the four games against Kent State and came off of that with a really good performance against New Mexico, he had probably the key base hit in that game that helped seal the deal and then had a really good weekend against Southeast Missouri. It's one of those things that reminds you as coaches that you need to work pretty hard at keeping your kids rested. He didn't rest on purpose, he was hurt, but he came off of a couple days off and was energetic, played very, very well in the outfield. He had an outstanding defensive weekend all the way around playing in some tough conditions, it was pretty windy in the doubleheader on Saturday, it wreaks havoc on the outfielders, you really have to be on point and he played well.
It's significant in a league like this to get both guys. You're always proud when you get one guy in.
bc.net: Your thoughts on the sweep of Southeast Missouri?
RW: The Southeast Missouri series was a bit of a trap series, we talked about that a little bit. They came in with an average record but pretty good statistics. They were 7-11 but only 4-11 against Division I. Coming into the weekend they were hitting better than us and their ERA was better than us. They put some guys on the mound with good statistics and they could swing the bat. They really could. They were a pretty good offensive ball club in the middle of their lineup. We did a pretty good job getting the rest of the guys out but we couldn't get the one hole and three hole out. They hit over .400 on the weekend, maybe over .500 for the three hole. The rest of the guys we did a good job of keeping them settled in. In particular on Saturday in the first game, the wind was blowing 25, it's not so much the home runs that are hit but the balls that aren't hit try good that get out of the infield, that sort of stuff. I think the guys gutted it out. Beck's outing on Friday was dominant in the Friday night 9-1 win. We blew them up in the second game, Ormesth's game. He gave up three legitimate runs in the fourth but we still had a pretty significant lead but then he gave up four in the fifth and we had to pull him with the bases loaded and two outs. It was getting close to being a game again. He was just out of gas, we've used him a lot. He wasn't on short rest, short rest for pitchers is considered a one or two day rest off a start. He'd been going off of four or five days rest which is pretty tight for a college pitcher. I thought that Michael ran out of gas, it was a cumulative effect. It would have been great for him to get a sixth win this early in the season. We've won at that time our 14th game and to have six of the wins would have been impressive. Randy Montoya came in and got a strikeout to get us out of the inning and Tim Torsney came in and put up three zeros and we end up winning that one going away 23-7. The key was Tim Torsney coming in and putting three zeros up, we just kept expanding the lead and we never gave up the momentum.
Then game three we get an extraordinarily well pitched game by Adam Mott. He gave us a great performance against Wake Forest and then two average outings his next couple outings then his next outing was against Kent State and he was just okay but he wasn't back to form. This was the first time he went out and gave us an eight inning outing and was dominant. Then we struggled to close that game out to the point where they got it to a save situation where Randy Montoya again came in and got us an out and got the save and closed it out. We weren't real pleased that they got back into the game but baseball is baseball.
Coach Evans was very upset with the performance he got out of his bullpen but this was a team [SEMO] that had just been beaten by 15 runs and they got controlled for the entire game and sometimes it's a mindset. Sometimes the opponent when they stop trying to win, all of the sudden they perform. The game was over, they're just finishing, they have to get on the bus the next day and fly home and so all the pressure is off. They got a couple ground ball base hits, they drew a couple walks on 3-2 pitches that were pretty close and next thing you know they were in range, to the point where we had Coffman ready to go if Randy didn't get the guy out. Coach Evans was upset but it's just the game. I think if it would have been a closer game they wouldn't have scored the five. The pressure was different.
bc.net: When you look at the week as a whole and really starting on Sunday with the with the doubleheader against Kent State, you got some outstanding starting pitching. The pitching staff is really starting to round into form as you head into conference play.
RW: I think that it's really simple for me, Beck and Ormseth are one and two and Adam Mott has earned his role back as three, I don't know that he really lost it but he put it in a little bit of jeopardy. It leaves you with Collins and Torsney that have proven that they can go pitch as starters and have success. When we get back on the weekend against Pan Am, we'll start Ormseth on Friday, Adam Mott in game one on Saturday, Tornsey in game two on Saturday and then back to Collins on game four. Those five guys have proven that they can go win and that's great. We've been deaing with these five and six game weeks where you have to kind of rotate through that. I'm really comfortable with Casey on the mound tomorrow [Tuesday] against Arizona. If he has a good outing against Arizona, win or lose, I just want a good outing out of him, that'd elevate him to a pretty high level. All of this becomes less important over the next three weeks because of the number of three game series that we'll play in conference but then becomes very important in a six-game conference tournament. I think for the very first time we've got enough pitching depth to not only get deep into the tournament but perform at the end and we have enough pitching depth, at least as we stand today, if we get into a loser's bracket, we have enough pitching to get us through that. You've got to have a lot of pitching to get through a six-game format.
We're in a position where if we lose a guy for a period of time that we have some depth that can come in and get it done. Ormseth and Torsney have proven as a group that they can come in in either the fourth or fifth inning if a starter got into a pitch count problem or had a bad inning or something like that, you have guys who you feel can come in and give ourselves a chance to get back into the game and win one or hold leads.
Our biggest concern is closing. Robert Roher threw this weekend, he was outstanding in two outings against Wake Forest in a setup and close deal but he's got a shoulder injury. He went to the mound for the first time this weekend and gave us a good outing with good stuff with very limited pain. We're very hopeful that that will continue. He's got to have three or four days rest in between throwing so he's a once a week pitcher. He may be able to throw a Tuesday/Sunday but we have to be careful. Obviously if we have him and Coffman, we have a pair of short closers but we're still looking for that third guy between Higginbotham as a young left-hander or Evan Mott, Adam's twin brother who is a little bigger with a little more velocity but he's not quite as clean mechanically. But I can case Evan Mott becoming a 90-91 mph with a good slider, more of a power closer but he hasn't done it yet, he hasn't proven he can go to the mound over the course of 25 pitches and throw 20 strikes with good stuff.
The good part is Evan hasn't done it yet, Jeff Neptune's had an opportunity recently, he was okay in Minnesota in his first real outing, he was on the mound in the last inning against Southeast Missouri when they scored some runs. He really didn't pitch bad, hit stuff was pretty good he just made a mistake to each hitter. He threw a bad breaking ball, he threw a fastball that was located improperly, he walked a couple guys but those were on 3-2 pitches where they were really close calls, they were probably balls. But as closers you have to bring your stuff. That's what Coffman does, he brings his slider and if you can hit it fine, if you can't we win. It's rare that Scotty ever has a problem walking people.
That's the next stage of this. I think there are two or three guys that can serve as setup or close guys, one or two inning late guys. That's the next step in this pitching staff. If one of those guys will materialize to give Scott Coffman and Robert Roher a little support then I think we'll be a really tough team to beat. We're getting really close to the finished product and getting very close to a team that's prepared to go compete for a league championship.
bc.net: Kurt Snowley hit for the cycle in one of the games this weekend and is the second Aggie to do it this season after it happening just one time in the previous history of the program.
RW: It was a neat deal for Kurt, him and Rust have kind of platooned and I think I'll continue to do that, I think they both play better. It was an oddity in that he went 5-for-5 and went for the cycle and he waited for the most difficult one, the triple, until his last at-bat. Most of the club knew. I was proud of them because sometimes I think this age group has a tendency to not pay attention to things like that and good teammates know when a player's got something on the line. As soon as he hit the ball I could hear the dugout behind me because the ball was hit into the gap. They were hoping the ball would not leave the yard. It hit the top of the wall in left-center, they were rooting for it to stay in the ballpark so he'd have a chance for a triple. It was really a funny interaction, off the bat you're thinking the outfielder may get to it, then you're thinking, no he hit it better than we think, don't leave the yard, we don't want a home run and then the guy jumps for it and it hit the wall and bounced back behind the outfielder. It was a standup triple and it was very, very close, he probably would have been safe if I'd sent him for an inside the park home run. So after he got to third and I shook his hand and they made the announcement, I asked him, "Which would have been a bigger deal for you, hitting for the cycle or an inside the park home run?" He said, "The cycle." I said, "I'm glad, I almost sent you!" The thing about Kurt is he would have gone. It was one of those things that if I really had to have had the run I would have sent him. To have two guys do it in a year, that's cool stuff. That's something that nobody can ever take away from you. I bet you it's one of those one percent type things. It's something that when you're not going so well, you can remember that day. It think it'll help his performance as the year goes on.