UNC Baseball Q&A's

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- No. 13 North Carolina clinched a series win against No. 1 Virginia with a 2-1 win on Friday. Head coach Mike Fox, Levi Michael and Kent Emanuel spoke to reporters following the game.

Head Coach Mike Fox

Was that win just like you drew it up?
"Believe it or not, it's kind of how we thought we might have a chance to win tonight against Danny Hultzen. Just keep the game close, and then hope that he walks you, or you string together a couple of hits, or something happens where you give yourself a chance. Fortunately we were able to keep the game close, because our pitching was so, so good. That'll get lost in all of this probably, but with Kent [Emanuel], Smitty [Andrew Smith], R.C. [Orlan], and Michael [Morin] we've given up one run in two games, so it's all about pitching."

Hultzen mowed through the lineup the first time around. In the fifth inning you kind of started touching him a little bit. Did you change your approach?
"Not really. That kid is just so, so good. My gosh he's 91-95, and if you haven't seen that from the left side, and he's just pounding it, and it comes from that angle, and he's got a good breaking ball; you have to see him two to three times just kind of find the ball, and know what's coming. We told our hitters go up there, and swing at strike one. If you get 0-2 on Danny Hultzen he's probably going to get you out. Some of our guys to start the game I think Chaz Frank had an eight-pitch at bat, so when they go up maybe we should try that approach to get his pitch-count up, but he's just so good. I do think he probably did get a little bit tired. The more you see him the better you can lock in, and maybe guess a little bit, maybe know what's coming. You have to sit on some pitches with him. If you just try to pick up balls he's going to get you out."

Coach, you all talk about pushing fastballs, but Kent was throwing all of his pitches tonight. Did you just let him?
"Well he had to throw some breaking balls, but he really pitched in well. If you look at Kent Emanuel, right handers are only hitting .225 against him, and lefties are hitting like a 100 points higher, which is crazy. It's because he can pitch in. He can pitch inside to righties, and of course you saw us pounding the ball in. When those hitters are on top of the plate, and they're thinking the ball is in, and then he can drop in that breaking ball in. Tonight his curve ball was better than it has been, because he was throwing it for a strike. He had six walks, but the two [Steven] Proscia I didn't mind, because we had a base open. He was as good tonight as he's been all year."

All season you've gotten contributions from guys up and down the lineup, and Parks Jordan, for example, came through. You've had guys that have been able to be plugged in situations and come through for you. Can you talk about that?
"Yeah, I trusted him that he was going to get a bunt down. That kid works really, really hard, and I've seen him bat there on his own off the machine just bunting, and watched him practice. I'll look on the back of my lineup card, and say, ‘I've got these guys, alright, who am I going to put up there that are going to give me three pitches to bunt Ben [Bunting] over to second base.' To me, it was Parks Jordan, and fortunately he got his bat in the right position, and got a little bit of a break. He popped the ball up. I thought we were going to get even more of a break if the pitcher and catcher would run together, but that was huge. I thought in that eighth Chaz Frank goes from an 0-2 count to a walk, and Colin Moran goes from an 0-2 count to a sac-fly. That's not easy to do off that kid. Our crowd really helped us. The kids just kept battling. Those were two huge at-bats."

What is it about this team, especially in this series against the No. 1 team? They just kept on coming. Last night it took six innings, and tonight it took eight.
"You have to keep playing. We talk about that. Play from the first pitch to the last. It's something you try to teach. Some teams are good at it. Some aren't. Our league is good. Yes, Virginia is No. 1, and yes, they're really good, but there are some other teams in this league who are good and we've played. That prepares you to play this kind of competition, so we know you have to keep playing the game. We know what happened at Georgia Tech Saturday night. If you don't finish the whole game, you lose."

Is that how you keep them from getting satisfied?
"We won't be satisfied with these two wins. We've got a chance to do something pretty special tomorrow, and maybe really, really help ourselves. I can't imagine they'd be happy. They better not be."

Kent Emanuel

Did you feel any pressure facing one of the nation's top pitchers in UVA's Danny Hultzen?
"No, it did nothing but help. When you face a guy like that and a team like that you have to bring your ‘A-game,' so that did nothing but help at all. It motivated and [provided] the energy to get out there and pitch."

What were you throwing most tonight?
"Tonight I was just throwing a little bit of everything. I threw all five of my pitches, which I don't know if I've done that in a game this year. I threw a lot of fastballs in today."

On UVA's batting lineup:
"Their hitters, they're aggressive, and they like to be on that plate. That's definitely why I kept going in today. They're in, and they're on the plate, and the inside fastball either froze them or got them off the handle. That was definitely something I noticed with all of their hitters is that they were on the plate."

What does this do for your confidence individually, knowing that you did so well against the No. 1 team in the country?
"Not much, really. I just try to stay even keeled. No matter what happens, I'm going to have the same confidence."

Levi Michael

What is it for you guys in this series? Last night it was the sixth inning, and tonight it was the eighth inning. What is it that you all have to keep you in the game, and keep you coming even when you're struggling at the plate?
"I think that's the way it's been all season. I feel like other teams may get ahead early, but we keep chipping away, doing things, staying locked in, and don't give any bats away. Our guys keep battling to the last out. Our hitters didn't look so good in the box early, but we kept fighting. We finally got it done."

Do you feel like you were gradually wearing Danny Hultzen down tonight?
"You could tell he got fatigued a little bit, but he still had good stuff throughout the game. Toward the end of the game when it came down to it we locked in and got it done."

What would a sweep do for you all going into the postseason?
"I think it would just help us carry some momentum. That's a big win. They mentioned earlier it's against the No. 1 team in the country, so there's not a better time for it than now."

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