This Week With Mike Fox

Inside Carolina had an exclusive interview with the head coach of the Tar Heels baseball team Mike Fox after their series split with the Virginia Tech Hokies.

UNC is 24-15 (10-10 ACC) heading into a mid-week game at Boshamer Stadium against Campbell University, a road trip to Wilmington to face the Seahawks on Wednesday and then back for a home weekend ACC slate against Boston College.

Hunter Williams won his fourth consecutive start on Tuesday in a rain-shortened game against High Point - can you discuss his performance on the mound?
"Hunter was outstanding for us once again. He has put together some consecutive great starts for us. With the score we needed a great performance to win a rain-shortened game and it was nice to be able to watch his progression."

The Diamond Heels have lost a couple of games so far off the schedule because of weather - are there any dates left open where the team could schedule a make-up game?
"Yes, we just confirmed that we are going to play UNC-Asheville on May 5th. That was just confirmed earlier this morning. We are pretty much out of dates to play - that was the last date that we could plug in a game as it is the last day of final exams and of course they are over by that Tuesday evening."

The Saturday night game at Virginia Tech was a barnburner in the Tar Heels' 11-10 victory after losing 8-3 on Friday. Can you discuss the series and the missed opportunity to fulfill a three game series?
"Well, it was an interesting weekend all the way around from the games, to the weather and their decision not to play two games on Saturday. We took advantage in the game [on Saturday] of a lot of walks and hit batters on their part certainly to start the game. They came back and tied it. It was a back and forth game and I'm certainly proud of our team in continuing to battle and gosh we hit some balls hard in that game. Their left fielder caught three or four balls right up against the wall with people on base. That big hit from Elijah [Southerland] with two strikes on him and we moved the ball down to a sac bunt for Landon [Lassiter], and Trent [Thornton] was sensational in relief."

...Did ESPN3 broadcasting the game on Sunday have anything to do with trying to get the game in as scheduled in advance?
"Gosh, I never heard about ESPN3 and I surely to goodness hope that didn't have an impact. I don't know any other way to say it but that it was a bad decision on their part. The ACC handbook clearly states that institutions are to do everything they can to play all three games of a series. They were predicting rain up there on Sunday for four days out."

Last week, there was an announcement of Reilly Hovis's impending surgery. Who do you expect to have an expanded role in the bullpen the rest of the season?
"The news about Reilly was certainly disappointing and certainly it is the most disappointing for him more than anyone else, he is the one most affected by it. We feel bad for him but we feel that he will attack his rehab relentlessly. I expect him to be back for us next year, which is the silver lining of it all. We certainly miss him - I mean, a First Team All-ACC with 9 wins and 6 saves for us - you just don't replace that. We have been without him all year and our bullpen is what it is. We need to get some guys out there this week and get them some work. That was the disappointing thing about getting rained out is losing the opportunity to get some guys some innings. It is still our goal to create depth and continue to strengthen our bullpen where we don't rely on two or three guys but on the weekend that is where we are."

Landon Lassiter has been swinging a hot bat for the past couple of weeks raising his batting average to .304 for the season. Can you discuss his performance recently?
"Landon probably has more hard hit balls than anybody on our team. Even the outs that he made at Virginia Tech they were hit hard. Two of them the outfielders had to make a running catch over their heads. He did not have a bad at bat all weekend. Everyone knows Landon can hit. Honestly he does not swing a lot during off days or during practice. He has learned how to manage his body and there is a thing about swinging too much. Landon has to figure that out on his own regard."

Do you have any update on Wood Myers's and Adrian Chacon's recoveries from their injuries?
"Wood has been cleared as of last week just to start hitting off a tee. I think today he can take ground balls pretty much right at him. It is a slow progression and you have to start to work on that straight on stuff and we will take it day by day this week and do what the trainers are telling us we can do with him. We certainly cannot over do it with him. Adrian Chacon for the most part is healthy but his back will probably be an issue for the rest of the season. It just flares up occasionally and he is just having to deal with it at this point."

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