Around the Bases with Greg Holt

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Senior Greg Holt's versatility has been a key factor in UNC's 20-3 start to the 2011 season. He's 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA as a reliever and is batting .375 as a designated hitter. Inside Carolina caught up with him this week for an interview …

Your role on the mound this season seems to be coming into the game whenever the opposition is attempting to seize control ...
"That is kind of the stopper role that I have come into. I struggled a little bit early last year trying to get guys out of jams and I struggled early again this year blowing the lead at Fullerton. But I feel that I have settled down and my command has gotten a lot better being able to throw my fastball on both sides of the plate along with my breaking ball. I am just happy for the opportunity to go out there and pitch. Coach giving me the opportunity to pitch is just great."

What is it like to come into a game with inherited runners in a pressure-packed situation?
"It is tough but you have got to step off and tell yourself to just focus on this one pitch and take it one pitch at at time. You can't get too ahead of yourself and think about the three hole hitter on deck and how you need to get this guy out to get to him. You just take it one pitch at a time and focus on that one pitch and executing that one pitch."

What was the discussion like with Coach Fox about having you return to the batter's box as the designated hitter against left handed pitchers this season after focusing on pitching last season?
"It was more of a necessity. With Matt [Roberts] being hurt that kind of limited us with our two position players. He said 'You hit for two years so here you go.' So I have been taking batting practice every day and have struggled a little bit lately but I have been just trying to get comfortable and putting a good swing on the bat."

As a senior leader on the team, what did you say to the underclassmen after the series loss early in the ACC to Wake Forest?
"Not too much was said. We knew the kind of team that we had and our young guys respond really well, especially guys like Colin Moran and Brian Holberton. You saw Holby today go out there and get two hits [in his first start in the field]. You don't really have to say too much to our guys after a loss. It hurts all of us and we all come out every day prepared and when we do fail or lose we take it to heart a little bit and that makes us work that much harder the next day."

Can you talk about the depth and confidence in the bullpen this season as compared to last year when the team struggled to retain leads late in games?
"It is tremendous. We can run guys out there. If one guy does not get the job done then we have another guy who is just as good as the guy before him. I think it helps with our coaching staff as they have confidence in every single one of our pitchers. Any one of us could go out there with the bases loaded with two outs and get the job done. I really think that boosts our team because as a pitcher when a guy comes in after you, you say that this guys has my back and he is going to pick me up and finish the game for us."

In your opinion who is the toughest guy on the Diamond Heels roster?
"I will have to think about that. [Pauses] I would say Brian Holberton is the toughest. He had not played much and with Levi [Michael] being injured today he stepped in the batter's box and got a big double in the first inning and then put a pretty good swing on a ball. He comes out every day and works his tail off in the weight room and never once do you hear him complain. He is a really tough kid."

Can you talk about Jacob Stallings handling of the pitching staff and his defense behind the plate?
"Jake is the best catcher I have thrown to. His knowledge of the game and his knowledge of the batters - he works really hard and really closely with Coach Forbes to set up a game plan. When you have a runner on first who can run a little bit you tell yourself in the back of your mind, 'Even if I don't get to the plate that quickly that Jacob is going to [still] throw him out.' When Jacob goes out there and throws out a guy at second base in a big situation or throws a guy out there at third I really think he gives that extra boost to our team."

Looking back at your career what is the toughest venue that you have had to play at?
"I would say pitching last year at Clemson coming into the game with the bases loaded with one out -- picking (Richie) Shaffer off first base then striking out (Chris) Epps to end the game. I felt that was the turning point of our season last year especially. Clemson fans are brutal - they will rag on you up and down no matter what even if you don't play a lot or if you are in a big situation they will let you have it."

What is the best memory that you have had in your career with the Diamond Heels?
"I didn't play but the two years that we went to Omaha are two of the memories that I will have for the rest of my like. Going to the 2009 College World Series and playing with guys like Dustin Ackley, Alex White, Kyle Seager - these guys are potential big leaguers and playing in that venue against LSU in front of 32,000 people was something special."

What is your biggest baseball superstition?
"You know I got away from it this year - I had a superstition that I would chew the same flavor of gum for the whole game from the first inning to the end of the game. But I did it and I got hit around a little bit and did not pitch as well as I wanted to so I banged that one. But I put my uniform on the same way every time so that is my biggest one now."

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