Weekly Coach Ward Interview

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/ on line 33. Weekly Coach Ward Interview Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 05/22/14 :: Seattle Recap/Day Three Preview Obviously not surprised by this team’s ability to bounce back from adversity, they’ve done it all year. Maybe the most impressive thing about today’s win and a bit of a good sign was that this is maybe the first time this season that the bats, the pitching and the defense have all shown up at the same game.
Rocky Ward: That’s true. We turned two big plays in the game that were at key times. Conard was very good. He located well. He didn’t have great stuff, he was hampered by the ankle. He only went 70-something pitches and went out in the sixth with 66 pitches and got in a little bit of trouble and I went out just to give him a little bit of a breather and asked him how he was doing and he said, “I’m about done.” I’m going, “Well, get me a double play because I’ve gotta get [Riley] Barr ready and he’s not ready yet.” He says, “Okay coach.” He goes out and gets a fly ball to the outfield and I go out and take him out, “You promised me a double play.” He goes, “I know but I got an out didn’t I?” It was pretty funny.

The kid did a nice job and Barr came in and gave up a rocket to center for the third out. They hit a lot of balls hard. We had a pretty good baseball luck day. When Freeman came in he had two hard hit balls per inning almost. In the last inning he had three strikeouts but he gave up some balls that were hit pretty hard. But he did what you’re supposed to do when you’re up 7-1, go throw strikes, don’t walk anyone and make them earn it and he did a nice job. It was a good day.

The problem is in the tournament is we can’t have a crushing defeat followed by another victory so we’ve got to figure out how to do this back-to-back. The only disappointment I have is I wanted to be Utah Valley. I wanted to be the team that went out and lined up Sam Street and beat him which is what they just did 9-2. I thought we had the same capability to do what Utah Valley just did but that’s okay. We live to play another day and the good thing about it is as hard as it is to go the nighttime and then the morning game is now we have some time off. We’ve been kind of hanging out at the hotel feeling good and I’m going to go out and watch the Sacramento game for a little bit and kind of enjoy the evening and then get up and do the same thing tomorrow. Of course it’s one of those deals where you have to win two to get back into the mix. But that’s okay. That’s kind of the deal. It’s survival mode and the last few tournaments we haven’t been able to win the second game so this is kind of new territory. You’re coming off of a win and I’ve always felt like from watching tournament, we did it a couple times in my times at Oklahoma State where we lost early and came through the loser’s bracket playing teams that were coming off of defeats while we were winning. So you kind of build your won miniature winning streak while you’re taking teams off of loses. It’s a unique thing if you can kind of maintain it and get back to a final, you’ve got a lot of momentum. It’s a matter of whether you have enough pitching left. We’re a little bit short there. We’ll have to continue to have good offensive games, play good defense and maybe pitch into a little bit of good luck and have another day like today where we only walk two. You make the opponent earn it.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 05/22/14 Tough loss last night against Utah Valley. Very similar situation to Bakersfield a couple of weeks ago.
Rocky Ward: Almost identical except we played better in Bakersfield, we didn’t blow an 8-1 lead and walk 11 guys. It’s the same deal. In that one we had to play one the next day so it wasn’t much different than today. We’ll hope to get a good outing out of Billy and we continue to swing the bats well. That was very quality offensive day against their pitcher. We kept coming at him and it was the type of offense we thought we’d need in the tournament. We just didn’t get it done from the mound. There were a lot of good things that the team did last night despite the loss, just like against Bakersfield. How do get the kids to remember that?
RW: We talk about it and they remember it as well as we do. Again, we’ve talked a lot over the years about the experiences individual teams have and to be able to come off of tough losses and win is something you can lean on a little bit. If we can do that again and get into the tournament and live another day and then see how things work out. This is the most difficult game that anybody plays on both sides. My experience has been it’s always been kind of an ugly game. Both teams in particular, Seattle is coming off a walk-off loss yesterday themselves in a game in which they led 4-1 at one point. Close enough. They had a pretty good lead and they let them get back in it. Same type of deal. The only advantage they have is they have four or five more hours to get it out of their system than we’ve had. The ballpark seems to be playing very fair.
RW: It’s a lot more fair than Hohokam. It’s a big park. It’s still a pretty large park, it’s 410 to center but most of the stuff that should get to the gaps. It’s a good fair yard. I like the setup, I like the field. The field has played well. It’s a desert field and they have the same problems we have with such low humidity, it’s hard to keep the field soft. The ball has stayed down, it’s not jumpy, it’s a pretty good infield to play. Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 05/19/14 You get Utah Valley on Wednesday, you catch a little bit of a break in that you play at 7:00 instead of the first game of the tournament at 3:00 in the heat of the day.
Rocky Ward: And that’s something we seem to have been drawing forever. Even when we were the two seed a couple years ago, we got the afternoon game. It’s a good draw. It’s an evening game, even though the weather isn’t going to be bad. It’s in the mid to upper-80s so we’re not dealing with the 100-degree heat and so it’s not going to be much different than what we’ve been dealing with at home.

The draw is good. Two reasons why. One we assume Bradley is going to be healthy and ready to go. He had a back issue that we had to skip him for the weekend. He got an injection in his back and he’s feeling a lot better. I was really worried about the fact that he just went on a six and a half hour bus ride. That’s not good for guy’s backs, anybody, healthy people’s backs. But when we stopped to eat about halfway he was feeling good. Hopefully that’ll hold out and he’ll be able to go on Wednesday and I think that Utah Valley has a weakness against left-handers. Their best players are their three, four and five-hole hitters and their three and five-hole hitters are switch hitters and they’re better left-handed hitters. Bradley had them no-hit through five in the Friday game and actually pitched well. It was a 1-0 game in the seventh and they scored three in the eighth and four in the ninth to beat us 8-1. It was a well-played baseball game. Riley Barr came in and made a mistake to their four-hole guy and he hit a two-run home run and then gave up another solo home run. He didn’t really pitch bad, it’s a Friday game and we threw the wrong pitch to the wrong guy before we knew it was the wrong pitch to the wrong guy. So, I think the matchup is good.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 05/12/14 Coming off of the 13-inning game on Saturday, obviously a really tough way to lose with three different chances to win that game. Your guys came out and responded, particularly in a game that you didn’t know how much pitching you’d have available and it was a game that it feels like your team has been waiting put together for a long time.
Rocky Ward: Yeah we haven’t had too many of those types of games. The unique thing about it is that their left-handed started is considered a pretty good draft choice. They six scouts in the stands to watch him. That doesn’t help his draft status I’m sure. The second thing is that Kris Koerper actually swung with a wood bat in the game. He didn’t swing with an aluminum bat. He’s got a 35-inch bat that he likes, he asked me if he could use it, we got it approved by the umpire and he goes out and goes 6-for-7 with seven RBIs, with a wood bat and he hit a home run. I need to make sure that he’ll be allowed to continue to use it. It’s one of those things I threatened to do three years ago is swing with wood bats when they changed to the BBCOR but it wasn’t cost feasible to do it.

The guys got after it. We had a little inning later but that was well after the thing was over. The best thing about it, the 13 in the first three innings was pretty cool, but maybe the best thing is that we kept scoring. That’s been something that we’ve struggled with. We’ll have a couple big innings early in a game and then get shut out for five or six innings. It’s caused us some problems. It happened to us in the extra innings game. We put up a big inning and then couldn’t really put up another one to put them away and they just kept scoring single runs to get back into it. We had a chance early in the game to kind of put it away and couldn’t do it.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 05/05/14 Tough series with Utah Valley. In the two losses really the issue was not getting enough scoring opportunities.
Rocky Ward: Yeah, the first one we had scoring chances in the middle of the game. We got guys in scoring position and couldn’t get the breakthrough and you didn’t feel like it was a big pressure deal because it was a low scoring game. We led for a little bit and then it was tied until late. They scored seven in the last two innings that made the margin but really the Sunday game, we just didn’t square anything up. Everything we hit was off barrel. I thought we swung at some pretty good pitches but we just didn’t execute well. It was one of those days. We clearly pitched the weekend all but two innings very well and that was after Bradley got in trouble, Riley Barr came in and gave up the home run in the first game and then we gave up another one on top of that and all of the sudden it’s 4-1 in the eight. In the dugout I’m telling Riley, if we score a couple of runs to get back in this then you’ll go back out. If we take the lead or tied it then Gonzales is coming, the closer. If we don’t score then we’ll send out Moriarty and some kids that need to pitch. That’s kind of what happened. The inning started, Matt [Moriarty] wasn’t bad but the inning started off with an error on Umphres, a walk, a hit, that sort of stuff and you look up and it’s 8-1 instead of 4-1. It was a weekend in which we lost two out of three because we just couldn’t score and that doesn’t happen to Aggie baseball very often.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 04/21/14 You take three out of four from Seattle, one of the games being a non-conference game. A really good weekend overall especially with some of the distractions.
Rocky Ward: Yeah. I came back to the club on Wednesday and we had a good practice and then we were able to Thursday. We got a good outing out of Bradley. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t great but it was gutsy. We didn’t have Kris Koerper in the lineup, he had a bad stomach flu and had to go the hospital and have some IV fluids and so he was out for the game. So you lose your four-hole guy and just a couple hours before the game really. The guys did a good job. We played a good, solid, clean regular baseball game. Not everything was perfect but we let the game come to us and played well and got a win and kind of moved from there. Friday you had the doubleheader scheduled. You lose the first game and it was a situation where it’s been the bugaboo all season where you have one bad inning.
Rocky Ward: Yeah really both ways. We had the game in hand and we had an opportunity to really blow them up a the plate offensively, bases loaded situation and we don’t come out with anything. We didn’t perform very well in that spot and an inning later we have one of those bad innings where we make some mistakes and they score a bunch and kind of take it away. It was a good baseball game that was all about an inning, not the same inning but the bottom of one inning and the top of the next where we had a chance to take control of the game and didn’t and then they turned around and did.

They were a good ball club, their four hole and their five or six, they moved him around based on whether it was against a right or left (hander). I think I looked at the WAC standings and they were one and two in the WAC in hitting. They moved the ball, a couple of pretty good RBI guys, they played solid defense, they pitched well. Overall a very well played weekend. Riley Barr is a reliever, he’s not really a starter. We started him at Northern Colorado and he did a good job but his value is in short and he wasn’t as good as what he’s been and we didn’t play very good defense behind him. But then we come back with Billy Conard who has a good outing, his third or fourth in a row. We swung the bats decently. We scored 21 runs on the weekend which for four games is below our average but we also faced three left-handed starters and we’re very left-handed as an offensive team. And a real good left-handed reliever that came in in the game they won and shut us out. He was really good.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 04/07/14 You won the Friday night game which has been elusive this season and that was a game that seemed like your players got all their frustrations out in one game.
Rocky Ward: For the first time this year we got momentum and kept it. We trailed that game 2-0 in the second and some of the same feelings start to creep back in because we’d played from behind so much. But we put together a five run third and a three run fourth up to take control of the game and then from that point forward, as is typical of Friday games, once you get behind 8-2 it’s almost impossible to use any pitching. They just tried to finish it out without wasting any arms. Unfortunately we’ve been on the other side of that so it was nice to take advantage of that. The Saturday game was 0-0 through the first five innings and then you were able to get control of the game and get the 7-4 victory.
RW: Yeah, their kid did a good job. I thought the Hammer kid was their best arm. I thought he had the best idea how to pitch. He was throwing what I thought looked like a splitter but what the guys were telling me is it looked like a slider. It had that type of action. I thought we did a pretty good job, we got him into a little bit of a pitch count and finally got the breakthrough in the sixth and got him out and got to their bullpen. The disappointment was once we got the two runs in the sixth we turned right around and gave them right back which we’ve done on several occasions this year. We’ve gotten the lead and then couldn’t pitch back to it. Then once again we were able to score back-to-back innings and put us up 5-2 and then we got the zeroes we needed. It was Riley Barr’s first win and so I was happy for him. They [UNC] actually swung the bats well. He gave up 12 hits in the game, only one of them was an extra base hit. But he pitched around stuff pretty well. The three walks in the game was okay. You try to stay at three or under in the game and we’ve had trouble with that this year. It was a well played game. They scored two in the bottom of the ninth on Trey coming in on a 7-2 game. He came in the game in the eighth and faced the winning run which made it a save situation. We scored two in the ninth to extend the lead and made it easier to win. They really battled at us. They competed very well with the bats. It was a good baseball game. It was one of those types of games you’d like to play a lot of. We got pretty good hitting, a 7-3, 7-4, I can go with that. If we average seven or eight runs a game and we’re giving up three or four. You’re going to win a lot of games with that formula. This type of baseball we’re pretty comfortable with traditionally.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 03/31/14 A very rough weekend for the Aggies, the toughest weekend I can remember in a very long time.
Rocky Ward: It the worst in a long time. Sacramento was good. They have almost an entire team returning, they were a good club last year. They’re one of the best pitching teams. The only disappointment was their number one has a bad back and didn’t throw. They threw a freshman reliever on Sunday, trying to piece it all together but we couldn’t do much with it. We scored a few runs but we couldn’t stop them. It was one of those weekends that you have no choice but to forget it.

I still feel like Sacramento is not that much better than us, people think I’m nuts. They were hot. Sacramento is a team that struggled mightily to score in the first part of the season and all of the sudden woke up against Northern Colorado and they’ve been wide awake since. They’re averaging eight or ten runs a game over the last six or eight games. They’ve won eight or nine in a row. It wasn’t a good time to catch a hot-hot team. I don’t think that if we play again in the conference tournament that we’ll see the same type of results. I’m not telling you that we’re going to beat their butts but I can’t imagine that they can play again that good compared to us playing that bad at the same time. We’ll see.

We still have a lot of issues we have to work. We still need some kids to step forward and start playing the game with some confidence. It’s not been a very good run.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 03/24/14 You had a rough start to the series but picked up the win on Saturday and Sunday and are able to head into this week having regained a little bit of the momentum you’d lost over the last couple of weekends.
Rocky Ward: Yeah, you feel a little bit better now. This Monday is better than the last four I’ve had, that’s for sure. We played well in the first game. Their guy is as good as advertised. He doesn’t make any mistakes in the zone. I was really, really, really disappointed. We had kind of made a ruin at him and started showing that old Aggie offense where we get a couple guys on base and put pressure on them and get the middle of our lineup to the plate. Had Sam Street really been awesome, I would have tipped my had but he wasn’t. We’d loaded the bases with nobody out and I had my 4, 5 and 6-hole hitters coming and four and five strike out. I’m watching his stuff and his stuff was different. We had him under pressure and the pitches he was throwing were average. None of them were big pitches. We got ourselves out. We swung at pitches out of the zone. You can forgive a guy if the guy on the mound is throwing the ball 96 and you swing out of the zone, there’s less room for error. But this guy is a regular guy, he’s throwing 87-88. He’s all about location and he lost the location and we let him get away with it. We built the inning, stacked up the dominoes and then couldn’t knock them down. Then we turn around and give up back-to-back doubles. We didn’t pitch real well in the inning but we’re down 2-0, we’ve got the game stabilized. Bradley had been pitching around crud all day, he walked five and I think he hit four but when his stuff was in the zone he was pretty good.

They get the bases loaded, we get a pop up and then we get a fly ball to right and Medina comes in and makes a patented Michael Medina throw, right on the money, one hop to the catcher. I mean the guy is going to be out by 25 feet, almost to the point where I was almost surprised he slid. Bu the ball was up the line a little bit, the guy slid and when Noyer went to tag him the ball popped out and went all the way to the backstop and they score the fourth and fifth runs and then they go on and score seven in the inning and blow us up. We score four late and it’s another one of about six losses that we’ve had this year where you’re going, if it wasn’t for that one mistake, that was a winnable game and probably would have been one. It wasn’t just that one mistake. It was a combination of leaving the bases loaded with one out with the right people coming to the plate and a defensive mistake.  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 03/17/14 Tough weekend for the club, you weren’t able to pick up the wins you were looking for.
Rocky Ward: No, we’re kind of backs against the wall a little bit. We’re still making a little bit of progress, it’s just not as fast as I want it to be. We pitched much, much better during the weekend, cut our walks down a whole bunch. We still gave up a lot of hits but if you make them put it in play there’s a chance to make a play. Let’s start with the first game and work toward the Sunday game. You were able to pick up the win in the series opener and obviously things were looking pretty good.
RW: Yeah, the kids played okay. We got a great performance out of Bradley. His cue is he only walked one. He scattered a bunch of hits around. Gonzales got a save. The ballpark is a pretty tough hitter’s yard. The ball doesn’t carry very well. It’s not like Hawai’i but it’s pretty tough. The grass was kind of thick and that kind of kept the ball in the infield most of the time. They managed to find lots of holes but it wasn’t an unfair offensive ballpark, it was just a good pitcher’s ballpark. We played well in the first game and got to the top and won a game through pitching and defense which is what you’re going to have to be able to do occasionally. I thought our guys did a pretty good job offensively. The one thing I was disappointed with was the guy had a pretty good straight change which is okay if he’s throwing it for strikes but we had four or five strikeouts on balls in the dirt where coming out of his hand it should be a ball. Guys weren’t reading it very well, weren’t seeing it very well but beyond that we did what we needed to do. We won a relatively low scoring game and we were pretty pleased with it considering coming off of Texas Tech which had a lot of emotion to it. We were blown out two games and we were in two games and competed very favorably in two of the four. So you kind of felt like it was a stabilizing game. Then comes Saturday and we score one run in 18 innings.   Continue Reading This Post >>