This Week With Mike Fox

Inside Carolina talked with head coach Mike Fox after his team’s series victory over the Wolfpack. The Diamond Heels are 22-14 (9-9 ACC) and host High Point and Asheville in mid-week games before traveling to Virginia Tech this weekend.

Can you discuss the strong performances by Zac Gallen on Friday night and J.B. Bukauskas on Saturday night for the Tar Heels?
"Two great starts for us. Certainly ones that we needed. Zac's complete game was the first of our season, only giving up six hits and no earned runs against a team that had put up some good offensive numbers. That was a sensational performance. Then J.B. followed up Saturday with another great performance got into the seventh for us once again and gave us a chance to win. Two great starts for us for sure."

Landon Lassiter appears to be getting more comfortable as the season progresses in left field, as evidenced by his running catch on Saturday night on a tough ball and then his dive on Sunday trying to stop a ball down the line...
"I think Landon is continuing to improve out there. Any time that you change positions and especially one that you have not played at all is an adjustment and it does not happen overnight and you have to keep working at it. The more he plays out there and the more comfortable he gets -- he has made some good plays for us and has been steady out there. The great running catch that he made really helped us. I wish he hadn't dove after that ball yesterday, that is one of those inexperience plays where you don't dive after a ball with two outs and a runner on. But again he's trying to make a play and you can't fault him for that. It has been a help to us that he has played steady out there for us."

Benton Moss appeared to lose command of the strike zone on Sunday afternoon setting the stage for a 10-strikeout six-inning relief appearance by Trent Thornton, who looked to gain confidence as he worked on the mound...
"Obviously that was unusual for Benton. We have not seen that much [wildness] from Benton. You lose your release point and can't get it back together. He was trying to stay aggressive but we just had to make a move. Fortunately we have a player in Trent, a pitcher who has been in that situation before where we could use him for one out or six innings. I did think Trent threw exceptionally well and you could see the great stuff that he has striking out ten while only walking one. He should not have given up five earned runs from our standpoint - it happened but I hope that it gets him going. He has pitched well his past couple of outings and I thought he pitched great yesterday."

During Sunday's game one of the bench coaches was ejected for disagreeing with an umpire vocally. You have discussed in the past how baseball is a game of failure - can you speak to the human factor in the umpiring of the game?
"[Laughs] That is a great way of asking that question. You know you have to be able to control what you can control. You know you hear that all the time in sports and it is true. The umpires are the authority of the game and it can be frustrating at times but there is nothing you really can do about it. You try to deal with the circumstances and it was unfortunate that we thought that was honestly a pretty easy call to make. Jesse [Wierzbicki] is a young coach and he is just fighting for our players and has a passion for coaching and winning. It was not anything vulgar he was just stating his opinion and I don't really mind it honestly. I thought he was standing up and even though he was going to be ejected it is better for a student assistant coach and not me, Forbes, or Jackson."

The Diamond Heels have not been utilizing the running game recently or been very successful in using the bunt to move runners – what’s been your evaluation of that aspect of the team's performance?
"We have to get better at those two phases of the game. I have been disappointed. We work extremely hard on the short game every single day that we can practice and in the back. We bunt all the time off the machine throwing with some velocity. We just don't have enough players in our lineup that are as good at it as they need to be or are as comfortable or as confident in it. Same thing on the base-paths and we have some guys that can run but they are tentative and I think there is a little bit of fear of getting picked off which can negate any and all speed that you have. Several times this weekend the guys have a green light at first base and the pitcher I think is giving them the opportunity to run with their times to the plate and they don't run. They get locked up a little bit and then you know we capped off one and we get picked off and you can't do that. The way we are offensively right now we are having problems scoring multiple runs an inning and we have got to get back to playing for a run or two early and those phases of the game have to improve for us down the stretch. The good news is that we are not giving up hardly any stolen bases but we have to utilize the speed that we do have a little better."

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