Matt Clements/Inside Carolina

This Week in UNC Baseball with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina spoke with UNC Baseball head coach Mike Fox after his team's series victory over Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels (23-9, 8-7 ACC) play South Carolina in Charlotte on Wednesday before departing for a crucial ACC series at Virginia.

North Carolina had a pair of dominant performances on Friday and Saturday by Zac Gallen and J.B. Bukauskas, who both tallied 13 strikeouts in their appearances. Then on Sunday sophomore Jason Morgan only lasted into the fifth inning while issuing five walks. What issues did Morgan have in his outing?
"Well, first of all, you are right - Zac and J.B. were sensational. Two great outings back to back and we needed it certainly. You know Jason was a bit uncharacteristic [of him]. We describe him as a control pitcher and a strike thrower and he has always had good command and he just did not have it and was not quite as sharp in yesterday's start. Then of course when we are not scoring runs and it is close then we have to make decisions earlier than we would probably like to. Them getting the leadoff man on I think four of the five innings he was out there made it a stressful situation."

Now comes a week on the road - South Carolina (in Charlotte) on Wednesday and Virginia this weekend. South Carolina's head coach Chad Holbrook was an assistant at North Carolina and Virginia Tech's pitching coach Robert Woodard also coached under you at UNC. Can you reflect on the Mike Fox coaching tree?
"I don't see it as my coaching tree, I see it as the University of North Carolina's coaching tree. Chad was at the University of North Carolina before I arrived. It is obviously always good to see Woody. I got to spend some time with him before the series started. Special memories - I thought that our PA announcer Bill Petty did a wonderful job introducing him before the first game and letting the crowd know all of his accomplishments at UNC. And obviously Chad has done a tremendous job at South Carolina. This is going to be a neat game with a lot of tickets sold..."

The end of the UNC-Asheville game was pretty wild where it appeared as though Tyler Lynn scored the tying run before Brian Miller was forced out at second. What was your take on the ruling on the field for that play and what the rule is in college baseball?
"The run should have counted. It is not a force so as long as the runner (from third) touches home plate before the out was made at second base, which would have been the third out of the inning and the last out of the game, the run counts. It should have counted. Everybody missed it. Of course I take full responsibility for it. The umpires, we have two guys out there that have been umpiring for 60 years between them. They know the rule as well and it was pretty clear that Tyler had touched home plate prior to the out at second base. I took responsibility for it and it was something we just had to get over and move on. I feel bad that I put my team in a situation where they could have kept playing."

Can you discuss the decision to start Ryder Ryan at first base on Saturday and Sunday - is Adam Pate injured? What does Ryan bring to the table and do you expect him to pitch again this season?
"Adam Pate has been nursing a foot injury and he was not 100 percent on Friday, although he played exceptionally well and got some big hits for us, and just woke up Saturday and could not go. He is a tough kid so when he tells me he can't play I know he can't play. So when we are one man down like that someone else has to step in. We faced three lefties and the wind is blowing out strongly to left field and Ryder is one of our power guys and Brian Miller is our fourth outfielder and so we just had to make some changes. We put Brandon Riley in left field and it was his first time playing defense for us all year. We are having to make some adjustments as we go here just based on injury, performance and production. Ryder has not been on the mound for a while and we kind of have settled into our top 8-9-10 guys and we will see if the situation warrants some innings for him down the road."

Another Tar Heel getting more playing time recently is Zack Gahagan. What development have you seen from him on the field and at the plate?
"The best trait that Zack Gahagan has is that he brings it every day. He really wants to be good. He never takes a day off. He is improving and continues to improve because of that. It is pretty clear to us that he is our best defensive third baseman at this point and I think that he is getting better offensively. He is a hard worker and wants to win - and probably the best bunter on the team - so he brings a lot to the table for us."


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