This Week With Mike Fox

UNC's 16-game winning streak came to an end on Friday night at the hands of Miami, but the Diamond Heels rallied to take the series and improve to 18-1 (5-1 ACC). On the docket for this week is Princeton and then a series at Boston College. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox for this week's exclusive interview …

This Week
Tues. vs. Princeton
Fri. at Boston College
Sat. at Boston College
Sun. at Boston College
Can you reflect back on the last week for the Diamond Heels?
"It was a busy week for us. Of course it was spring break and normally we try to play two mid-week games over spring break and we were able to do that. Then the big series with Miami where I was very proud of our players to respond from the loss on Friday night to come back on Saturday and Sunday to get the series win."

On Friday Miami's starting pitcher Chris Diaz kept your team off balance in the batter's box. What lessons do you feel like could be learned from this adversity at the plate?
"He is a typical Miami left hander. We have faced a lot of them over the years. They know how to pitch and their pitching coach does a great job. We hit the ball hard and were unlucky at times but we did not do enough offensively to create opportunities to score. On Friday nights when games are low scoring and close you have to take advantage of every opportunity. We didn't get a couple two-out hits when we got the chance and that is what wins games on Friday. He did a nice job. He pitched well against us. We just have to make adjustments pitch to pitch and kind of know what we are looking for and learn from those experiences."

Benton Moss had a no hitter going for a while on Saturday - what made him so effective?
"Benton was very sharp. It got lost a little bit of course with all the runs we scored in the [11-run third] inning but I thought Benton was the key to the game certainly. Attacking with his fastball and he started getting his breaking ball over in the second or third inning and really kept them off balance. He also threw a number of change-ups in certain situations and got some big strikeouts on a couple of their lefties. He was very sharp on Saturday."

Can you discuss Skye Bolt's performance on Sunday night culminating with his three-run game-winning home run?
"He got a pitch he that could handle. That was the book on (Miami pitcher A.J.) Salcines. He starts guys out with fastballs in and he got a pitch on the inner third and we have seen Skye do that before. He has power from both sides of the plate. He got all of that one. It was a big swing of the bat."

Brian Holberton has shown a lot of versatility in the field in his career behind the plate, at second base and now getting time in left field. Additionally he has been swinging a hot bat this season, batting .341 with three home runs. What does he bring to the table for your club?
"Brian has gotten off to a good start and of course he had a monster day on Saturday. He has been swinging the bat well for us. Brian has been in a lot of big games for us and he is a little bit of a streaky hitter but when he gets hot he really gets hot. The one thing that Holby does is that he looks at the ball and he can draw some walks. He is strong as an ox and when he gets the bat head out he does have a chance to hit some home runs. He is not really a home run hitter but he got some pitches he could handle and he is tough in there and he always gives us a good quality at bat. He is still progressing out there as an outfielder and I think he is going to turn himself into a really good outfielder for us and so far he has played very well out there."

Trent Thornton had another dominating mid-week performance last week, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Do you expect him to throw against Princeton and has he exceeded your expectations so far in his freshman campaign?
"I do anticipate him pitching Tuesday against Princeton. I don't know that he has exceeded my expectations but he certainly has pitched well. We saw in the fall that this kid has got something. He has a good arm and he has four pitches he can throw for strikes. Coach Forbes has done a terrific job with him. He is slowly kind of settling in and just pitching under control and helping to control the running game. He is his own worst critic. He will strike a guy out to end the inning and come in and won't be pleased with the location of the pitch. So he realizes he might have gotten away with one here and there. He is very mature in that regard and he is doing some special things for us right now."

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After the Tuesday game against Princeton Tigers, your team has a weekend series at Boston College. Can you discuss the challenges of an early season visit to Boston?
"I don't know that you want to get me started on us going to Boston College on Thursday. I might have to bite my tongue in that regard. I have already heard from their coach and they are calling for snow up there on Tuesday into Wednesday. Possibly looking for alternative sites and it is going to be a challenge and it is important obviously for us to play. Over the next couple of days we will have to monitor it and we might have to change our travel plans and flight plans. It is something unfortunately we have no control over since we don't control the ACC schedule. I think anyone would have to question why teams are going to Boston on March the 23rd. Again it is a challenge to set the ACC schedule and it is what it is and we will have to do what we have to do. "

Tyson Lusk is your clubhouse and equipment manager. For those not familiar with the inner workings of the program, can you speak to his role?
"Well, you have to start with what Tyson does not do. He does everything. He is willing to do everything. There is a valid argument that he is the most important piece of this puzzle that is our program. I just feel very fortunate to have him in the program and to have him start as just a [student] manager and work to where he is now. We rely on him to do so many things for us. The most important thing about Tyson is how people feel about him and see him and respond to him. He has this unique ability for people to really like and respect him almost immediately. It is a great quality and it is him just being genuine and caring and knowing people by first name, every umpire, every operations person, people that deliver our meals, to the people who worked on the stadium. Tyson knows them all by their first name. He is very special and I could talk for hours about Tyson - he is very special to me personally and to our program."

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