Matt Clements/Inside Carolina

This Week in UNC Baseball with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina caught up head coach Mike Fox after UNC returned from its series win at Georgia Tech. The Diamond Heels (15-5; 4-2 ACC) are at ECU on Tuesday before hosting Miami this weekend in Chapel Hill.

Would you consider the pitching depth on the Tar Heel roster an important factor in winning the series against Georgia Tech on Sunday after going into extra innings on Saturday?
“I think so. Our bullpen was sensational. Our pitching all weekend was sensational. Of course Brett Daniels had his coming out party for this year in terms of his best performance and we certainly needed that yesterday. Josh Hyatt gave us some quality innings and Trevor Gay did as well. So, we have always felt that if we get in a battle of bullpens with teams we like our chances.”

… Not to overlook the one-hitter on Tuesday against Maryland to set the table for the weekend…
“It really did. Tyler Baum gave us another great start. We were just looking over our numbers for the week and we only gave up 11 earned runs in 4 games against really good opponents. I told our team we won this week because of our pitching.”

You mentioned Brett Daniels’s performance where he struck out nine batters in 4.1 innings. What made him so effective?
“Well, I asked him on the way home, 'How did you feel out there?' And he said that the mound was just like the one in Fuquay, which is where he pitched in high school. It was a funny comment from him but it was a big mound and it looked high and probably was a little high and that helped him get some good extension and keep his changeup down. His changeup was really good and we elevated a lot of fastballs late in the count and got their hitters to chase some balls up a bit. I think they only hit one ball out of the infield off of Brett facing, I believe, 13 batters. That is an incredible accomplishment against a good team in that ballpark.”

Tyler Lynn had a power surge this weekend hitting a pair of home runs and scoring the game tying run on Sunday. How has he improved as a senior after joining the Tar Heels as a junior transfer?
“It has really been fun watching Tyler - not that he did not have have fun playing last year, but those juniors for some reason their first year they put so much pressure on themselves to kind of prove themselves and now - just like Cody Stubbs, as an example we use - Tyler is just playing the game and enjoying it and obviously playing with a lot of confidence and he can do some good things for us. He played a good left field down there which is hard to do. So he is a good outfielder and made some plays for us as well. He is very confident right now which might be the most important characteristic you can have.

What challenges does the afternoon sun create at Georgia Tech in particular?
“We got down there Thursday to practice and the sun was still out. We talked about that and hit some fly balls to our outfielders in sunglasses. Of course that building that sits behind home plate is all glass and you get that sun at the right angle and when Brian loses that ball in the sun - I have seen that movie before. I remember Seth Williams in years back. I will have to go back and look because the guys had sunglasses on and someone told me later on that Brian had his on his hat which I will have to talk with him about that. Fortunately that did not come back to hurt us. But, it is an unbelievable challenge there with the wind always blowing. And we are down there in March this year which is a little unusual. The sun and the wind down there make it very treacherous and very tough on our outfielders at times.”

J.B. Bukauskas threw another gem on Friday - striking out 14 and leading the ACC in strikeouts with 51. What made his performance so effective?
“That is the best I have seen J.B. throw, I think. He has had some other outstanding performances. For a while there it was just dominating. At one point it was six in a row as he struck out the side I think twice. Really their hitters had no chance outside the two home runs he gave up. He was dominating, striking out 14 in six innings and he had good velocity and his slider was really good. Another incredible performance by J.B. I just want him to enjoy his junior year and help us win and not put a lot of pressure on himself. Those juniors have to block out a lot of stuff. They can’t look ahead. So that is what we try to do is just keep them in the moment.”

If you were making a lineup strictly for defense - what would it be?
“Probably the lineup we started the game with yesterday with Ike [Freeman] at second base. Although, we made some changes and Zack Gahagan made a terrific play at second base. We really like Michael Busch at first base - he has really made himself a good first baseman. Probably, outside of [Brandon] Martorano in right with the lefty. But, with Lynn, Miller and Riley in the outfield with Datres, Gahagan, Freeman - with Gahagan at first and Cody Roberts behind the plate with our best defensive lineup, but we have some other guys completely capable.

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