This Week in UNC Baseball with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina conducted its weekly interview with UNC baseball coach Mike Fox after the Tar Heels won their first ACC series this past weekend against Pittsburgh. On the slate this week for UNC are a pair of mid-week games before a weekend series against Duke at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

J.B. Bukauskas pitched a gem with 11 strikeouts in seven shutout innings on Saturday and looked really effective with runners on base out of the stretch against Pitt. What was your perspective of his performance?
"Well, that might have been one of J.B.'s best outings since he has been on our team with us. From beginning to end he has worked very hard and I know that a point of emphasis was him being better out of the stretch. I think that the scouting report on him early on was that he was not as effective so I know that is something that he has been working on. He got himself into that situation once or twice and got into trouble and when he had to pitch out of the stretch he was very effective. That was a good sign for him and for us. We certainly needed that kind of outing from him on Saturday."

The bullpen has been very effective so far this season - how has it gone balancing their roles and performance so far?
"Your bullpen is a work in progress as the season starts. You have an idea of how you want to use guys as far as setup or [other role]. We did not go into this season with a 'closer' so whether or not there are situational guys we know who we liked in the fall and we knew we would have some surprises. You know that Brett Daniels was a silver lining yesterday as well as he threw and threw well the last time out. Coach Forbes and I communicate during the week, before games and during the game of course, and I think our bullpen has been really good. We gave up some hits yesterday but they were all weak off pretty good pitches and we did not give up any runs out of the pen. That has been a point of emphasis for us as our starters are not going to be able to go deep into the games early so we have been pretty pleased with our bullpen so far."

This is the first week that the Tar Heels have a pair of mid-week games - what pitchers are in contention for the mid-week starting roles and how do you expect to approach the catching position with a full game slate?
"This week certainly will be a big challenge - it is Spring Break and we always try to have a pair of mid-week games during Spring Break. I will meet with Coach Forbes in a few minutes to see his ideas on where we are going to go. We did not pitch Cole Aker out of the pen yesterday so he and Rogo [J.T. Rogoszewski] are in the mix for that regard. I'm not sure how we are going to go in that regard. We evaluate that on a game to game basis. We are trying to keep it on Cody [Roberts] - he has done obviously a good job for us but we need to get Wyatt [Cross] and Brendan [Illies] back there some more and I think you will probably see that and they will have an opportunity this week."

Kyle Datres was replaced after one at bat on Sunday. Can you discuss that change and your impression of the approach that the team had at the plate while getting shut out on Sunday?
"The situation with making a change there was not baseball-related with Kyle Datres. I thought we had some good swings on Sunday. It seems like we got their pitchers in a lot of 3-0 and 2-0 counts and then got 3-1 or 3-2 pitches to hit. Too many bats in the air. We did chase some balls early, which I thought was a point of emphasis - to make their starter throw strikes. We had the opportunity right there in the first inning to get a lead and it would be important again to make them play from behind. That's baseball - you don't expect it but you can see that around our league with two other teams shut out on Sunday. That is the way it goes. We could not string together any hits or get anything going. We got a couple guys on and we needed someone to hit one in the gap. I thought the change from 3-0 to 5-0 was really huge. The mistake we made really hurt us. The difference between being down five to being down three."

How does technology assist the team in monitoring practice performance and in scouting opposing team's games?
"You know the rule is now that you cannot scout on campus. You used to be able to get in the car and go watch other teams where there was a limited opportunity to do that but now you can't so now you have to rely on video and there are a lot of games on ESPN3 and we have DVRs all over the stadium and setting them at the beginning of the year and it is crazy how many games at the end of the season that we have DVR'ed. These are games with opponents that we don't even play in the regular season but we could later on, of course. There are no secrets anymore - my coaches do a great job of watching games and watching pitchers and giving our kids a good scouting report on what to expect. How to pitch certain guys, what certain guys will throw in certain counts. We have Accu-Pro with four cameras in our stadium so we video every pitch and every swing from the time the kids are on campus in the fall to the time they leave - and they have access to that on their own laptops and they don't have to just watch it at the stadium. So it is an incredible tool and we use it a lot of course."

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