June 6, 2004

Here’s a complete transcript of postgame quotes from Saturday night’s Notre Dame-Kent State game – including Tom Thornton’s interview with WDND’s Sean Stires (providing insight into the game in the way that only the eternal wordsmith “Tall Tom” can):

Tom Thornton QUOTES

“It got me right in the lower rib. Poked me pretty good. He was sitting on that fastball on the outer half and the outside pitches are the ones that get driven right back up the middle. I couldn’t quite get my glove down and it sunk into the bottom of the ribs. He hit it pretty good.

“I knew I kept it reasonably in front of me and he did not get a great break out of the box. There wasn’t a lot of time. I had more time than usual and was able to get him out.

“It stiffened up. I was icing it between every inning and the stiffness seemed to augment with every inning. But it wasn’t anything that was a real deterrent to my pitching. It took a few miles-per-hour off every pitch – especially right away because I had to get used to the throbbing, especially in the fourth and fifth inning.

“It was really difficult to get a late torso rotation, which is essential to mechanical soundness. It was difficult to come around and get out in front and finish.

“I wasn’t able to work as fast as I would like but I was able to mix speeds effectively. The curveball was actually better in the last two innings than in the middle two innings. I made some mistakes with some fastballs up, but the changeup really sold everything else and once they saw it that could be effective. It was able to set up the fastball inside, which I got about three or four strikeouts on and was able to freeze them. The curveball was able to be sort of an off-pitch that they had to look for even if it wasn’t the most consistent pitch.

“You’ve got to go out and relish this. It’s always great because the fans come out and embrace you here. The way they came out tonight and the last two days, it’s really amazing and they made this whole thing special for us.

“We all love to play baseball and would if there’s no one out there. But the fact that you have thousands of people out there that are behind you from the first pitch, it makes everything that much more special.

“I think I’ve always carried myself that way (as a big-game pitcher). It seems like I’ve done this stuff before with high school state tournaments and it always was one-and-you’re-done there. Pitching is going to always be somewhat cyclical, but if you keep your nose to the grindstone and make the pitches then you’ve got to know the result will be there at the end.

“I was able to mix speeds efficiently. I wasn’t able to work as fast as I wanted to. Working the changeup away, I left a lot of the changeups up. But I was able to release the pitch with an arm action that created enough deception that set up the fastball inside, which really was the pitch that worked for me tonight.

“I like to throw the changeup 15 to 20 times a game. It was my strikeout pitch in high school and I’m starting to use it a lot more and it makes a big difference being a four-pitch pitcher.”

COACH Paul Mainieri QUOTES

“Steve has been one of our most clutch hitters all year, so when the other team throws a lefty that’s kind of a tough decision. He had an opportunity tonight and took great advantage of it. That RBI in the first inning was a big one. I knew Tom would go out there and throw a lot of strikes and I knew if we got an early lead it would put a lot of pressure on them.

“We almost started Jeff Samardzija tonight because we thought Tom would be such a great matchup with Arizona, hoping that we would win tonight’s game. But then, in the end, we felt so strongly that Tom could pitch so deeply into the game. And because of the fact that we had to use Kapala and Thaman and Doherty this afternoon, we felt it was more important to get the rest for the bullpen.

“Tom did exactly what we were hoping to do. He went out and threw a lot of strikes and was in total command, except for the body blow. I told him, ‘You’re an old hockey guy in Boston. That was just like a goalie. You stopped that slapshot on your chest, let’s go!’

“Tom was up to 120 pitchers and that was the biggest thing. Hopefully, if we have a good day tomorrow, he will be pitching again next weekend and we didn’t want to overdo it with him. The most he had thrown all year was 118. Secondly, I wanted to get Rico Bertucci into the game to get a little experience because we may need him tomorrow. Finally, I thought it would be neat to let him get a nice ovation. The crowd was tremendous and it was a great atmosphere. He also told me before the ninth inning that his side was getting kind of tight and we didn’t want to chance it any longer.

“I felt the first couple of games this weekend we played a little bit tight at the plate and that’s not atypical. Every weekend it seems, until we get that first win under our belt, that the kids are tight and wanting to do so well. I expected that we were going to come out tonight and play with a lot more confidence and aggressiveness. Macri got us off to a great start and made some things happen. Our execution with bunting and hit-and-running put a lot of pressure on the other team.

“We stayed back on pitches very well and didn’t swing at many bad pitches. We laid off a lot of curveballs out of the zone and we got some good pitches to hit and used the whole field. I know we’ve hit more home runs … but we just need to execute well, drop down bunts and hit-and-run and run the bases well. I thought we played pretty well offensively tonight.”

Steve Andres – “I just wanted to play my role and the second game I got a chance to hit in the 3-hole. I just wanted to produce when runners were in scoring position.”