This Week With Mike Fox

Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox after the Diamond Heels returned from a series loss to UCLA in Orlando. The Tar Heels are 4-2 heading into a pair of mid-week games hosting St. John's and Winthrop before a weekend series against Rhode Island at Boshamer Stadium.

What was your evaluation of the performances of the weekend rotation with Trent Thorton, Benton Moss and J.B. Bukauskas?
“I think all three of them have thrown well. Certainly there is room for improvement. I though Trent Thorton Saturday against UCLA was sensational through five innings and I think that is why we were able to win the game. UCLA is a really, really good offensive club and we got a typical Trent Thorton performance. I thought Benton had just some tough luck starting the game giving up some ground ball singles through the hole. UCLA is a tough team to strike out. They move the ball and with J.B. we are rolling a young kid out there against I think one of the top teams in the country and he did not back down at all and made some big pitches and got some big strikeouts when he needed to. Again there is room for improvement for all of them. I think they are all going to continue to get better.”

One of the most interesting performances over the weekend was Tyler Ramirez’s patience at the plate after hitting his second home run of the season Friday…
“I thought he was a really good player last year and you could see signs last year that Tyler Ramirez could be a really special player and he has taken that next step and that next jump and taking his walks. They were very careful pitching to him and it was pretty obvious that they were not going to let Tyler Ramirez get good pitches to hit. Early he hit the home run and after that they were very careful with him. So he took what they gave him. Tyler just plays the same way every day. Calm, relaxed and has a great demeanor and I think that helps him as well as his physical tools.”

The game on Friday was a sloppy one where both teams combined for 11 errors. How do you assess the state of the defense in the early part of the season?
“We have to improve defensively. I think if you didn’t watch the game and only read the box score you see those errors we really could have had one more on a bunt as I thought we could have pickled it. Those are things that you have to do if you are going to beat good teams. We pick a guy off first then drop the ball at second base. One error is we have a guy out sliding into second on a caught stealing and he slides into the glove as the ball gets there and kicks the ball out of the infielders glove and it rolls into center field. The runner goes from second to third and so obviously there is an error that has to be given there. Some of them were tough breaks but again we have to -- and I’ve said it from the very beginning -- is that we have to be a good defensive team. I think the experience down there just watching – especially our young players as I think our veterans know that if you open the door with walks and errors for a really good team they will take advantage and UCLA did almost without exception every time we gave them an extra out in an inning.”

If the weather cooperates, this is the first week with five games. Who are the candidates for starting mid-week games for the team?
“Coach Forbes and I chatted and obviously we threw almost everyone down there in Orlando which was our plan. Certainly Zac Gallen is in the mix – he didn’t throw a whole lot yesterday. I’ll have to go back and look at the number of pitches. Freshman Brett Daniels is also an option as well. We have not decided yet. We got back late and will convene here and decide on our starters for Tuesday and Wednesday. It is good to be back home. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I think our field will be fine and we can get back on the field and play which is the most important thing right now.”

What did you see from new starting third baseman Logan Warmoth to give him the opportunity as a freshman?
“He is a good defensive player and that is why he is playing. He is very savvy and showed us really since he got here that the ball goes in his glove and he has a good accurate arm which is important to have that over there. I know he was excited to play in Orlando. His grandfather had a chance to come and see him play. Personally when his dad told me that I thought it was great for us to have been able to make this trip since his grandfather was not in good health and could not have travelled up here so that was pretty special to have him, his high school coach and his family down there. I know he was tickled to death to be playing in his home town and he played well – very well. We are excited about his future.”

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