Matt Clements/Inside Carolina

This Week in UNC Baseball with Mike Fox

The Diamond Heels won their opening ACC series against Virginia over the weekend to improve to 12-4 (2-1 ACC). Inside Carolina continues its weekly exclusive interview with Mike Fox heading into UNC’s mid-week game with Maryland before a weekend series at Georgia Tech.

Brian Miller swung a hot bat this week racking up nine hits and raising his average to .324 in the process. How was the speedy outfielder able to improve his fortune at the plate?
“Yes, Brian did have a great week and last week he did not have such a great week. It is just a credit for Brian. It is the crazy part of baseball. You have to just keep playing. Brian had a terrific weekend for us. We talk with our kids about raising their level of play when ACC season started because it is a different level. Our veterans have been there before but our junior class had not won a series against Virginia and they were ready and Brian led the way.”

Rodney Hutchinson appears to be getting into the groove as a key bullpen arm after starting the regular season off a little uneven after putting in some dominant starts in pre-season scrimmages. How has Hutchinson adapted to a bullpen role from your perspective?
“Well he is doing just that. He was right there in line to be a starter but we have to find some guys out of the bullpen that we can trust that can come in and pound the strike zone. Rodney is learning how to do that. I think his first 2-3 outings he is coming in trying to throw too hard and trying to do too much. We need him to be just like he is starting the game. He has gotten better and better and more comfortable with that role. He is going to be a key for us for sure coming out of the pen.”

Senior Adam Pate was relieved after only one at bat this weekend and reported to be in a walking boot after the game - what is his status and availability to the team?
“Adam is dealing with a foot injury and there is not anything that can be done for it to repair it at this time. It's just trying to manage the pain and it is something that he will have to deal with for the most part day to day throughout the rest of the season unfortunately. So I tried to get him in there and it really bothered him and he was in a lot of pain so I had to get him out. His status is always questionable from day to day at this point.”

… are there any other players who are unavailable to the team at this point?
“No, we have already spoken about Hansen Butler - there are no others at this point.”

With a big lead in the second game of the doubleheader the Diamond Heels got a great performance out of the pen from Austin Bergner getting the win with Zach Attianese, Bo Weiss and Taylor Sugg getting their first ACC appearances. How beneficial is this experience for the pitching staff?
“That was important bringing in Zach. He is our only left handed pitcher - everybody knows that - and we have gotten him some outings this week and proud of him staying with it and being ready. We were able to get Bo in there and Taylor Sugg. You don’t get an opportunity too much to do that on the weekends but we are still trying to develop players, of course. We had four pitchers throw bullpens Sunday and we're continuing to work with them and develop them. So our bullpen is still developing, we have some guys we have been using but we are always looking for another arm to come out of that bullpen to give us some quality innings. Our pitching was sensational last week and over the weekend, including our bullpen. I think our bullpen gave up only 15 singles in four games last week which is pretty incredible in like 12-13 innings giving up only 15 singles and no extra base hits. So that is pretty impressive for all of those guys coming out of the pen.”

Recently the Nike deal with UNC came up with Michael Jordan’s visit and announcement about UNC Football being under the Jordan Brand umbrella - what is the status of the various sponsorship deals for the Diamond Heels and what challenges does the equipment staffing face on the day to day operations for the team?
“Well, obviously, we are and have been in Nike apparel and they are unbelievable to our program providing us everything we need. Last year they came out with this new Vapor material they wanted us to use and experiment on. Last year we basically got all new uniforms with this new material and of course all of the other items we wear from hats, to jackets, to sleeves, etc. We are under contract with Louisville Slugger through 2018 and Wilson Sporting Goods purchased Louisville Slugger so now we are using Wilson gloves and our players get to order one and they all did that in the fall. Our equipment manager Tyler Puryear and [director of operations] Dave Arendas are basically in charge of all of that and making sure the players have what they want with sizes and ordering. It is a big task obviously with such a big team with ordering deadlines and that sort of thing. We certainly are well taken care of. Well, washing them is the biggest thing. That is where Tyler comes in. He has to turn some of these things around pretty quickly.”


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