This Week With Mike Fox

Inside Carolina caught up with the head coach of the Diamond Heels after his team went 1-3 last week, dropping a mid-week game against West Virginia and then losing the series against Georgia Tech. Up next is Winthrop on Wednesday, followed by a weekend home series at Duke.

What are your reflections on the last week for the Tar Heels?
"It certainly was a disappointing week for us but certainly a more disappointing weekend and Saturday for us. We just rescheduled during the middle of the week and caught a really good West Virginia team and didn't do a whole lot offensively against their starter and then going into the weekend had a big win Friday and Trent Thornton was sensational for us and it was a long game but a walk off win is always special. Weather came into play on Saturday and a heartbreaking loss in the first game in 13 innings and we had a chance to win the game in a variety of ways and didn't get it done and in the second game couldn't get much done. It was a disappointing week for us but it will be how we respond which will be the most important thing for us and we can learn some lessons from it and we have a lot of games to play."

Get your UNC baseball info and talk with fellow fans on Inside Carolina's Diamond Heels Message Board
Can you discuss the extra innings and making a late game comeback on Friday?
"It is always going to be a close game on Friday with Trent [Thornton] going against the other team's best pitcher usually. We just hung in there and made some plays, just doing enough. They came back to get the lead and we tied the game in the 8th and then Wood (Myers) comes up there in the bottom of the 11th with a big hit for us to win it."

What was the rationale for not starting Skye Bolt in the Friday night game and what do you make of his slow start at the plate?
"The decision not to play (him) was an internal one and it was my decision. Skye is off to a slow start but he is going to continue to improve and get better I think. He takes a lot of pride in his performance and we need him to get going for certain."

Henry Sisson got some innings over the weekend - what did you think of his performance and what's the plan for his role moving forward?
"Well, of course, he sat out all last year and was not available for the first part of this season so he is just now getting into a situation where he has been available to pitch for us. You saw what he is capable of doing for us - he is left handed and he is a strike thrower and he doesn't throw real hard but he makes the other team swing the bat and we have to play defense behind him. This weekend he was able to get out there and pitch a little bit and get his feet wet against some good competition and it should be a good experience for him and hopefully help us moving forward."

Your team had 33 innings over the weekend with two extra inning games against Georgia Tech. How does the depth of your roster and bullpen weather this kind of workload?
"We know going into the season that you will always have a chance of weekends like this. When you have your DH as the backup catcher and we make changes that forced us to use about everyone on our entire roster in the first game on Saturday putting a pinch hitter up there in the 9-hole for the pitcher. That forced us to use about everybody - not only hitters but pitchers - but we rarely have nine guys pitch in one game. It was unfortunate that we did not earn a win with using all those players but they all got in there and they all helped us in one way or another."

With about 1/3 of the regular season complete - 23 games down - what do you know about your team now that you may have been uncertain about before?
"I think I am going to know a whole lot more this week because this is a huge setback for us. Losing a home series and a week where we lose three games. I think maybe I will be a little bit better to answer this question next Monday. We did respond back from a 1-3 start, but now we are in the heat of the ACC season and you lose a tough 13-inning game. We will see. I did know we would complete and play hard every inning and we have done that. We have to improve our defense. We just have to. You can go back to look at our loss in the 6-5 game and we just didn't make a couple of plays that cost us some runs. We have got to continue to be a better team and we struck out way too much this weekend. We need to cut those down as well."

Trent Thornton's performance on Friday, and his ability to get swings and misses against the Yellow Jackets, he was able to keep the Tar Heels within striking distance.
"Trent is not only really talented but an unbelievable competitor. You see him dial it up when he gets in trouble a little bit when he needs a big strikeout he has the ability to get guys to swing and miss. The late life on his fastball and his breaking ball, slider, change up and curveball are all above average pitches. He can throw them and get guys to swing and miss. He is obviously a guy who gives us a chance to win every Friday night and we look forward to having him out there on the mound for us. We just have to play well behind him."

Two freshman had stellar weekends in Wood Myers and Adam Pate. What did you see from them?
"Wood has been sensational for us. You have a five-hit game in an ACC game that is pretty spectacular. He had a great weekend and he has been really playing at a high level and his defense has improved. Adam Pate had a good week for us as well. He can steal bases and you saw him steal third against Georgia Tech. These guys are exciting to watch and they are only going to get better as well."

After the game on Saturday you discussed the performance of Georgia Tech's pitching staff and the coaching of Jason Howell, who played for you a dozen years ago - what's your relationship like with him?
"I just got off the phone with Jason right before you called. We just touched base. I love Jason and I think people know the story. He is one of the few one-year transfers that I have ever had into our program here and to have a young man transfer in from another school and he ends up being your team captain that tells you all you need to know about Jason Howell. Being on our staff he was an exceptional person and it is hard. We talked about how hard it is to compete against each other. I understand that when he mentioned it but I get it - but it is part of the business we are in. It was bittersweet because I thought his pitchers really threw well and I'm proud of the guys that play here and coach here and move on and I want to see them do well, but unfortunately it was at our expense. But it was good to see for Jason."

Inside Carolina Top Stories