Matt Clements/Inside Carolina

This Week in UNC Baseball with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina interviewed head coach Mike Fox after UNC's ACC series loss to Georgia Tech. North Carolina (19-4, 6-3 ACC) hosts Davidson on Tuesday before departing for a weekend series at Miami.

This weekend had three completely different games - competitive game on Thursday, blowout for UNC on Friday, and Tech dominated on Sunday. Do you have any takeaways from the series?
?“It was a typical ACC series. I thought Thursday night (it was) two really good Friday night starters in this league going at one another and we did not do enough against (Brandon) Gold to give Zac Gallen enough run support. We could not string anything together or put enough pressure on them offensively to try to scratch across a run or two at the end. Then on Friday J.B. [Bukauskas] was sensational. Probably one of the most dominant performances that I have seen here in a long time. Once he got out of the bases loaded jam he was pretty dominant the rest of the game. Saturday was disappointing. We just could not get anything going offensively either and we gave up home runs and when the other team's got the lead and you are fighting from behind it is difficult. We were a little lethargic and did not play well in any phase of the game on Saturday.”

The Tar Heel defense committed five errors this weekend and gave up five unearned runs. How do the Tar Heels need to improve defensively in your opinion?
?“Well, you have to make plays in the infield. That was probably the story of the weekend. We got a double play ball up the middle that we don’t make a play (on) and not only do we not get two outs we don’t get one. That led to the inning that beat us - the three-run fifth inning. On Saturday we went from having a week where we played good defense to where we didn’t. If people look at our team that is what they are going to say. They are going to say 'if they can pick the ball up they can make plays. They will have a chance to have a good season and have a good team.' That is Logan Warmoth’s first error of the year just fielding and that did not end up hurting us. But, he has been sensational at short but we have to be better. If you don’t make routine plays that are supposed to be outs good teams will take advantage of that and you give them extra outs and that leads to runs.”

Can you discuss the criteria that your program uses to determine suitability for roles on the pitching staff? Considering the majority of talented high school prospects come into the program with experience in a starting role, how do you determine the best role at the ACC level??
“Well, that is a good question. That is what we have to determine when kids get here in the fall. A lot of it has to do obviously with the pitch they throw - if they are a one-pitch or two-pitch guy. How quickly does their arm recover, what kind of command do they have? Do they have a swing and miss pitch? A lot of it has to do with their makeup. At times we start our way from the back of the bullpen at the end of the game and work towards your starting pitchers. Your bullpen is critical and your guys that are going to get the last 3-6 outs in the game are critical when the game is close. So we try to look for those couple of guys in the fall with the guys that have that makeup that want to be on the mound in that situation, that have icewater in their veins and thrive for that moment. That is not all the criteria but that is some of it. For your Friday night guy you want a guy who can throw strikes and pitch deep into the game and save your bullpen. So there are a lot of factors that come into play. We put these pitchers in all sorts of situations in the fall to try and determine that.”

Do you have an update on Hansen Butler’s availability? Are there any other Tar Heels currently unavailable because of injury??
“Hansen is back throwing. He started throwing back last Monday and threw before the game on Friday and we anticipate getting him in the game against Davidson before we travel this weekend. There are no other players with significant injuries at this point.”?

From your perspective in coaching from the dugout with Coach Jackson at third base, how has the team been executing their game plan offensively so far this season with hit-and-runs, bunting and generating runs by moving the ball?
?“We have done a pretty good job executing those types of plays. We felt like we were going to have to do some of those things this year and we were going to have to safety when the situations warrant. The guys at the top of the order are looking to drag [bunt] and you know we got caught stealing a couple of times this weekend. One of them we didn’t think was out - and that is neither here nor there. We pride ourselves not only on the number of stolen bases but more importantly the few times that we are caught. So I think for the most part our players have understood that and have worked very hard on the bunting aspect of the game. When you hit and run or you slash or stuff like that it depends on the pitch that the hitter gets. Who is at the plate - we can do it with some players but can’t do it with others. But, for the most part we have done a pretty good job of that.”??

Junior Tyler Ramirez continues to put up big numbers, leading the team in batting at .427 and one of five players above .400 in the ACC, while leading the Tar Heels with 35 hits, five home runs and 26 runs batted in. What's his mindset at the plate?
“He is very calm and relaxed in the box. He has such a good demeanor about the game. Does not get too high or too low. He just takes everything in stride. That is a mark of a good player. You have to be able handle all the emotions of the game. If your emotions get out of control you are in trouble. Tyler is very good at not letting that happen. We need to surround some guys around him that can help him. We have to have more of a threat than just him in our lineup.”


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