Matt Clements/Inside Carolina

This Week in UNC Baseball with Mike Fox

The No. 3-ranked Diamond Heels (31-9, 16-5 ACC) won their seventh ACC series at Pittsburgh after a mid-week loss to Liberty. UNC now faces a five-game week with Elon on Tuesday, and Campbell on Wednesday, before hosting Clemson this weekend.

Luca Dalatri expanded his lead in innings pitched in the ACC with an eight-and-two-thirds-inning outing on Saturday against Pitt. What has made the freshman hurler so effective on the mound?
“Throwing strikes is Luca’s best attributes. He is so mature for a freshman. Well advanced. We needed every strike and every pitch on Saturday against Pitt. We weren’t doing a whole lot offensively, but we kept looking at the scoreboard where it was zero to zero. That was the only column that mattered and fortunately we were able to score some runs but Luca was sensational once again for us. He is always under control. He does not ever seem to get rattled. When you are pounding the strike zone and you are ahead in the count early it sets up the rest of his pitches. He has three more above average pitches that he has in his repertoire that hitters know and he can throw his changeup, slider and curveball pretty much at any time - and they are good pitches for him. He has been taught well and is very talented and very athletic and so fields his position well, so he has a lot of good things going for him.”

Looking back on the contest on Sunday, how important was the back end of the bullpen keeping the game within striking distance, setting up the Diamond Heels for their first five-game week this season?
“Well obviously we let the game get away from us early and that allowed us to use some other guys. We wanted to get some other guys in the game. I thought that Bo Weiss and Trevor Gay all came in and pitched well and gained some confidence and that bodes well for us going forward. We did have a chance to get back but came a little short unfortunately yesterday. I anticipate Tyler Baum and Jason Morgan getting the starts for us mid-week. This is the first two games during mid-week that we have had in some time. Both those guys will be rested and we did not pitch Jason Morgan much this week. I’m not sure how we will go in turns of which one was first and we will look at the weather and hopefully we will be able to get both games in.”

Rodney Hutchison, Jr. had a subpar week, giving up four earned runs on Tuesday against Liberty and then five on Sunday where Pitt built up a comfortable lead. What contributed to his uneven performance?
“Location. Rodney has got to be able to move the ball on both sides of the plate. Yesterday we just missed on some pitches in. The bottom of their order hurt us yesterday with three balls I think right in the four hole where Rodney just left the ball over the plate. He is such a strike thrower sometimes you have to throw balls. Most of the time when pitchers are getting hit they are just leaving the ball out over the plate. It is part of it - they are not going to be perfect every time - but Rodney has been a big, big key to our success this season. Boy, both he and Josh Hiatt that have come out of nowhere to just give us some great quality innings. So Rodney is a worker and very mentally tough so he will respond back and go back to work today and we will get him back on the mound as soon as we can this week.”

After 40 games the Diamond Heels have connected on 41 home runs - how do Coach Forbes and Coach Wierzbicki utilize technology and coaching practices to improve the offense?
“The Trackman data that we are utilizing, there is not much data that we cannot get - launch angles, exit velocity - you name it. We utilize it some, you have to be careful in utilizing it too much. I think that Coach Wierzbicki and Coach Forbes - they have just done a sensational job just working with all these guys. The individual time they spend with each of them in the video room, I think people would be astounded by that. Our players have bought in and they have gotten stronger and better. We have gotten some good pitches to hit. Hitting home runs and extra base hits a lot of it is getting yourself in the right count. That hurt us yesterday some where we were swinging at too many first pitches especially late when we were behind. But, those guys have done an incredible job but all the credit certainly goes to our players.”

How has the coaching staff divided up recruiting responsibilities in searching for and getting commitments from future players?
“We all recruit. All four coaches on the staff recruit. You have have three coaches on the road. Our two assistant coaches with Coach Forbes and Coach Woodard out everywhere all summer. Then you have kids visiting and Coach Wierzbicki comes into play. I go see kids, I go see kids we signed regarding the draft. Coach Forbes does that as well trying to educate families. It is very much a combined effort by everyone.”

What new projects have been completed in Boshamer Stadium and what other projects are underway?
“Our dining facility under the first base bleachers turned out very well. About 1,300 square feet over there where we have pre-game meals and other meetings and our players can go in there and bring their lunch during the day. Pretty much all funded by former players - I cannot thank all of them enough for that. So not many big projects at this point. We would like to have some ribbon boards around the facade and maybe an additional smaller scoreboard somewhere. We are trying to keep it clean and repair some things. Sometimes banners need to be replaced and that sort of thing. We always have an eye out for how to make things better.”

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