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 swept the Clemson Tigers at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, S.C. after splitting their non-conference slate in mid-week games, losing a tough game to Elon and defeating North Carolina A&T. The Tar Heels are currently ranked No. 4 in both of the major polls and improved their ACC record to 13-4 and are 29-7 overall.
• April 8 vs Elon (Cary, N.C.) - L 2-0
• April 9 vs North Carolina A&T (Cary, N.C.) - W 5-0
• April 10 vs Clemson (Clemson, S.C.) - W 8-2
• April 11 vs Clemson (Clemson, S.C.) - W 4-3
• April 12 vs Clemson (Clemson, S.C.) - W 8-4

Interesting Note: The three-game sweep at Clemson is the first time that an opposing team had swept the Tigers at home since 2002 when Florida State last accomplished the feat. The Tar Heels won a series at Clemson for the first time ever and had never won more than one game there in a season since the formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels have stolen 43 bases our of 56 attempts while holding opponents to 11 stolen bases on 28 attempts.

Batter(s) of the Week: Sophomore second baseman Kyle Seager was a one man wrecking crew against Clemson this weekend. He slugged three home runs, drove in eight runs on seven hits and scored four times while batting .350 for the week. So far this season he leads the ACC in runs batted in with 48 for the season. Dustin Ackley has also heated up at the plate this week, batting .455 for the week, scoring five times on ten hits, driving in five runs, while hitting his sixth home run of the season.

Pitcher(s) of the Week: Instead of awarding the entire Tar Heel bullpen this week two Tar Heels share honors. Sophomore pitcher Rob Catapano came in under duress in relief of Matt Harvey in the Clemson finale for four innings, giving up one run on three hits. In total, he appeared in three games this week, for five and two thirds innings pitched, and only allowed five base runners. Senior right handed pitcher Mike Facchinei pitched a gem against North Carolina A&T on Wednesday, with a six and a third innings of shutout baseball while striking out eight batters and only allowing three base runners.

Around the Coastal Division: Miami (15-1 ACC) continues to be the class of the Coastal, sweeping Georgia Tech (9-9 ACC) in an emotional series after the news of the death of Yellow Jacket pitcher Michael Hutts on Friday before the beginning of the series. The Hurricanes won both games on Saturday after the Friday night game was postponed. Virginia (11-7 ACC) kept pace with the Tar Heels, sweeping Maryland to stay within two games of UNC in the ACC standings. Duke (5-12 ACC) and Virginia Tech (3-15 ACC) continue to struggle in league play.

Career Record Update: Senior third baseman Chad Flack is approaching another UNC record after surpassing the record for hits last week -- career at bats. He only needs six more at bats to own this Tar Heel career record. Check out the feature article on Flack in the Spring Issue of the Inside Carolina Magazine.

Looking Forward: The Tar Heels travel to Greensboro on Tuesday evening to face the UNC-G Spartans. The Heels then host UNC-Charlotte on Wednesday in Cary, while Boston College (5-13 ACC) arrives on Friday for a weekend series at the Tar Heels' adopted home. The Tar Heels Sports Network has started their season coverage for the Tar Heels on the radio.
• April 15 vs UNC-G (Greensboro, N.C.) - 6 p.m.
• April 16 vs UNC-C (Cary, N.C.) - 6 p.m.
• April 18 vs Boston College (Cary, N.C.) - 7 p.m.
• April 19 vs Boston College (Cary, N.C.) - 1 p.m. (Televised on RSN)
• April 20 vs Boston College (Cary, N.C.) - 1 p.m.

INSIDE CAROLINA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH MIKE FOX

What are your thoughts on the weekend series against Clemson?

"We are obviously ecstatic about getting in there and getting three wins. I think the entire weekend we did things very well in a hostile environment to not only win the series but to win three games was unexpected and a very pleasant surprise. We are tickled with the results."

No ACC team has swept Clemson at home since 2002…

"That is hard to do, they have such a great program with great tradition and a great crowd… you don't expect to go anywhere on the road in this league and win three games. You have to have realistic expectations. You just want your team to play well and give yourself a chance to win every game, but to do it is extremely difficult."

Tell me about Kyle Seager's performance against Clemson this weekend…

"Kyle has a great three days. He had some big hits for us and obviously the home runs came at a big time for us. You need a player or two to step up on a big stage… Kyle has had a terrific year offensively for us, defensively as well. I think that probably will be overlooked for the weekend. He played terrific defense for us all weekend. I think he had more RBIs than the whole Clemson team."

How do you feel about the bullpen's performance to date this season?

"It has been spectacular. Our bullpen has been one of the great strengths of our team. Extremely consistent, we showed that down at Clemson, bringing guys out of the pen in different situations, kind of mixing and matching. They were all ready and prepared and made some big pitches and when they didn't and walked a guy here and there -- which we did a little too much down there -- we were able to erase it with a big pitch or a strikeout. Our bullpen, you have to give credit to those guys; the veterans and the freshmen, who understand their role and are ready when we call upon them."

The Tar Heels have had a lot more success stealing bases and also keeping opponents from successfully stealing. To what do you attribute this to?

"We work very hard on controlling the running game. It is a strong emphasis on our defense and our pitching staff right out of the gate in the fall. We don't like people to run at will against us. There is a way to control the running game if your pitchers do what they are supposed to. It helps if you have pitchers who can throw and have good arms and a reputation of being consistent. That is not a surprise to me, because we work hard at that part of our defense. We probably have not stolen as many bases the past couple of weeks as we did earlier. I think teams are doing a better job of controlling our running game a little bit. We have been a little tentative as well, giving the green light to some guys and run and hit some guys. It is at their discretion whether they run or not. We have better team speed than we did in the past and we have emphasized it as well in the fall. That is why you see a little more of that this year."

Reports are that Rob Wooten came down with the flu this weekend; do you all have him in quarantine?

"[laughs]… He felt really, really bad this weekend. I felt bad for him because it is his senior year down in Clemson and hadn't been there in a while. He gutted it out and gave us a couple of really quality innings. He just did not feel good yesterday and it showed. He wanted to be out there to help our team. I admire that quality, it speaks a lot about Rob and wanting to contribute to our team. He has been to Student Health this morning, hopefully will be on the road to recovery for the game tomorrow."

Tell me about Mike Facchnei's pitching against NC A&T on Wednesday…

"We don't call upon him very often, but when we do it is a critical time. We were coming off of a loss and our staff was depleted a bit. We really needed a veteran guy to go out there to give us a quality start, he was ready and had not started a game in three weeks… he stayed ready and pitched a great game."


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