Baseball Notebook

Inside Carolina's weekly feature on the Tar Heel baseball team, including an exclusive Monday morning Q&A with head coach Mike Fox ...

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Week in Review: the Tar Heels (18-4) went 4-1 this week, defeating Princeton twice in a mid-week series and winning the series against Maryland in College Park after losing the first game. The Tar Heel bats came alive in the last two games against Maryland, scoring 33 runs while getting 38 hits. The pitching staff was again superlative, only giving up five earned runs the entire week.
• March 18th vs. Princeton (Cary, N.C.) - W 7-0
• March 19th vs. Princeton (Cary, N.C.) – W 8-2
• March 21st vs. Maryland (College Park, Md.) L (4-2)
• March 22nd vs. Maryland (College Park, Md.) W (14-1)
• March 23rd vs. Maryland (College Park, Md.) W (19-1)

Pitcher of the Week: Freshman pitcher Patrick Johnson pitched five innings of shutout baseball combining with three other relievers to shut out Princeton in the first game of the week. He only gave up one hit in his five inning stint while walking one batter, and striking out seven Princeton batters in his second career start.
Honorable mention goes to Adam Warren, who won his fourth straight start, defeating Maryland in the Saturday match-up with a six inning performance, striking out seven batters, while only giving up one run. His career record moves to a perfect 16-0.

Batter of the Week: Senior Chad Flack broke out of an early season slump swinging a red hot bat this week. His average for the week was a scorching .579, pounding out 11 hits while driving in nine Tar Heels on eight hits. He also hit two home runs over the week including his second career grand slam against Maryland in the Sunday finale. On the week he also reached base 76% of the time as he added six base on balls to his eleven hits.
Honorable Mention goes to Dustin Ackley, who batted .316 for the week, while stealing three more bases bringing him up to ten for the season. Brian Roberts holds the UNC season record for stolen bases with 63 in the 1998 season.

Around the ACC: Florida State has an undefeated record in ACC play so far, going 9-0 in conference play and only losing two games overall this season. On Sunday they trailed Virginia Tech by six runs on two separate occasions, but still managed to come back to win the game. They are the class of the Atlantic Division so far this year, as all of the other teams are jumbled up in the standings at .500 in league play or worse. Miami leads the Coastal Division by one game over the Tar Heels in conference play and is currently ranked No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Only Virginia Tech has yet to win a conference game. UNC's upcoming opponent North Carolina State is 13-7 on the season and 4-5 in conference play.

Interesting Note: Virginia Tech hosted the New York Yankees on March 18th in Blacksburg in an exhibition game arranged by George Steinbrenner. The game served as more of a celebration for how far the campus has come together; healing from the terrible tragedy from last spring.

Looking Forward: The Tar Heels start a 12-game home stand at the USA Baseball Training Complex, hosting the Wolfpack in Cary this weekend. Please note that you have to purchase tickets in advance for this series directly from the UNC ticket office. Davidson and Gardner-Webb come to visit the Tar Heels during the week in non-conference play.
• March 25th vs Davison (Cary, N.C.) - 6 p.m.
• March 26th vs Gardner-Webb (Cary, N.C.) - 6 p.m.
• March 28th vs North Carolina State (Cary, N.C.) - 7 p.m.
• March 29th vs North Carolina State (Cary, N.C.) - 6 p.m.
• March 30th vs North Carolina State (Cary, N.C.) - 1:30 p.m.

INSIDE CAROLINA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH MIKE FOX

It has to be nice to be back in town after a holiday weekend series on the road...
"Being away for Easter is never really a good thing, but it is part of it and it is nice to be back after a pretty successful weekend and a successful week. We are excited to be home for a while."

Is the team excited at returning home for the next two weeks?
"It is a good feeling to look at the schedule and know that you don't have to travel away for a couple of weeks. I believe we are at home for the next four out of five weekends. It is part of the schedule that we are looking forward to -- and the weather is getting warmer. This is a fun time of year."

How do you feel everything went this past weekend?
"If you look at what we did this week and this weekend, except for one kind of glaring error Friday night, we pitched exceptionally well. If someone told me that we would go up there and only give up three earned runs and lose a game, I would not have believed that... we scored, I think, 35 runs over the weekend. That is baseball for you, we just did not get it done Friday night, did not make adjustments at the plate and did not make a couple of big plays that we needed to. I am so proud of our team about how we responded on Saturday and Sunday. We certainly played our best baseball -- pitching and hitting -- on our last two days like we are capable of."

What's your assessment of Coach Forbes and his development of all of your freshman pitchers this year?
"Wow, this is one of the most pleasing parts of our team at this part of the season is how our young guys have responded, even guys like Tyler Trice and Mike Facchinei ... Mike stepped up this week and gave us a big start against Princeton and pitched really well, he had not been on the mound for a while and Tyler Trice has really been throwing the ball very well. You look at our pitching numbers over all, they are pretty exciting to look at. We just pitched so well, really throwing a lot of strikes and not walking people. That is the first key for having a good staff."

Last week in five games you only gave up five earned runs...
"That is almost unheard of, especially in that ballpark up in Maryland. They have some veteran hitters and have scored some runs in league games. It just goes to show you what we are capable of doing on the mound. One of Coach Forbes favorite philosophies is: 'Staying with the process and keep working.' They go out on the mound with a lot of confidence and we have pitched a lot of guys and so far they have done their all -- they've stepped up and done their job."

What do you think got Chad Flack going at the plate after a slow start this season?
"That is probably the most exciting part of the whole week, is seeing Chad getting a little bit of that truck back. He is really looking at the ball well, he did not swing at any balls this week, that is key for him, putting him in some good pitches to get a hit. He had a phenomenal week, hitting is just so much confidence and feeling like you are seeing the ball well. You could tell he was really locked in all week and certainly all weekend."

You have a big weekend ACC series coming up with North Carolina State, are the players looking forward to it?
"I'm sure they are. We have a couple games this mid-week we have to make sure to be ready to play Tuesday and Wednesday night. We will get to that weekend when it gets here, that is always a good rivalry and North Carolina State has an outstanding team. Hopefully we will get some fans out this weekend ... and have a nice weekend out in Cary."


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