Matt Clements/Inside Carolina

This Week in UNC Baseball with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox after the Tar Heels 26-15 (9-12 ACC) dropped a weekend series at Wake Forest. Winson-Salem. Next up is a pair of mid-week home games against UNC-W on Tuesday and Campbell on Wednesday.

The Tar Heels check in at 16th in the RPI ratings according to WarrenNolan.com after the weekend and have three ACC series against Louisville (RPI #2), Notre Dame (RPI #44) and NC State (RPI #8). What is your perspective on the present hopes of qualifying for the ACC and NCAA tournament?
?"Well, our most important game is coming up here in about 30 hours. You can't overstate the importance of the remaining part of our schedule. The RPI is what it is. I don't care about the RPI right now. Right now I'm trying to keep our kids believing and trying to get us focused on these two games that are coming up before finals again. That is our challenge to keep grinding and which I know this team will, because this team has a lot of good leaders and has a very high character and they really, really want to win. We are just not playing well enough right now to do so."

A.J. Bogucki pitched well this week, appearing in 4 games this week including all three games against Wake. Can you discuss his appearance on Sunday going 4.2 innings and getting the walk-off loss as well as the decision to avoid Will Craig in the 9th with an intentional walk?
"A.J. has really, really been good for us all season long. He's had a couple flat outings - that happens, but for the most part he has been a savior for us. We need guys to improve and develop from one year to the next. You know A.J. gave us a chance to win yesterday holding them like he did and letting us get back into the game. I would have made that decision every time that I made in the 9th inning. I was not going to let their best player beat us. It was nothing against A.J. at all and I know that he struck him out the last time but that was also about 40-45 pitches earlier too. A.J. was probably a little bit tired there but we were just one pitch away from getting into the 10th and it did not work out for us. That is the way it goes sometimes."

Can you discuss Tyler Lynn's taking advantage of the opportunity to pinch hit and tie the game with one swing in Sunday's game?
?"That is always fun to see a player come off the bench and get a big hit. That certainly was a big one and it says as much about his being prepared and being ready on the bench as much as the actual swing because you can't do one without the other. It gave us a chance to tie the game and I thought after we did that we were going to win. I just thought that was what we needed was just to get the game back even and we would have a chance to tack on. It did not work that way but it says a lot about Tyler and his ability to not start but to be prepared to help us in any way."?

?Looking back at the week and the substandard performance at the plate - from your perspective was it that the opposing pitchers performed well or that the Tar Heels are just struggling at the plate?
?"It is certainly a combination of both but from our standpoint our kids are just in a funk right now. Way too overanxious, there were several circumstances this weekend at Wake where if a batter just takes ball four and the next batter doubles in the gap - which we have not had many of those lately certainly this week - and we would have scored a run. Instead we are swinging at a 3-1 pitch that is a ball and these kids are just trying too hard and being overanxious. When you start getting into a bit of a tailspin offensively as a hitter it is a difficult challenge because it is such a tough skill and then when you combine the mental aspect of it with anxiety and attempting to try too hard and not being able to handle the failure part of it things can continue to spiral. That is basically what seems to have happened to our entire lineup, with the exception of a couple guys, all at one time. That is something that is obviously hard to watch but more importantly it is harder for these kids to go through. We will get back to work with them today and continue to work with them, and get them to try to get them to calm down, take a big breath and do what is within themselves to help us win. Whether that is a walk or a bunt or whatever it takes."??

?What is the schedule going to be like for the Tar Heels with games on Tuesday and Wednesday and who are the starting pitchers scheduled for those games?
?"Sure, a good practice today. A good spirited practice today. It does not get any easier for us with a great UNC-Wilmington team coming in here. Jason Morgan will throw Tuesday and Rodney Hutchinson will go Wednesday against Campbell. Then obviously exams being on Friday, and Thursday is a reading day, so our players will have off for three or four days then we will have some optional practices toward the end of the weekend and Monday then we have a game on Tuesday. So those are our plans."?

UNC Baseball posted a 987 APR rate after three straight seasons at 986 - with the exam break coming up could you discuss the academic performance of the team and how the coaching staff and support staff focus on academics?
?"There is a lot of support here in the Athletic Department and we have a great deal of resources for our student-athletes. So they should be successful with that support. Again we put a great deal of emphasis on it and it is extremely important that our players do well academically and progress towards their degree, that is why they are here first and foremost. It will carry them further in life than baseball as we all know, so I am proud of our guys that do so well they are committed to it. They don't have much choice as I don't tolerate players that don't pursue their degree with as much diligence as they can. I'll pass on your APR comment as I am just not a big believer in the APR but that is just my personal view. The APR is as much about playing time and kids transferring as it is about academic progress so I'll leave it at that."


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