Baseball Notebook

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

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Week in Review: The Tar Heels cruised through the mid-week competition into the huge home series with Florida State, in which both schools were ranked No. 2 in the nation by various polls. UNC took two out of three from FSU -- winning Friday night thanks to an 11-run eight inning, losing big on Saturday night game, and then bouncing back on Sunday to prevail in extra innings. The Heels are still second in the Coastal Division (18-5 ACC, 38-8 overall) behind the top-ranked Hurricanes and have won 13 of their last 14 games.
• April 22 - Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) - W 17-0
• April 23 - High Point (Cary, N.C.) - W 10-5
• April 25 - Florida State (Cary, N.C.) - W 11-4
• April 26 - Florida State (Cary, N.C.) - L 13-5
• April 27 - Florida State (Cary, N.C.) - W 2-1 (10 innings)

Batter of the Week: Sophomore first baseman Dustin Ackley continued his hot streak, batting .526 for the week with an on base percentage of .609. He drove in four runs and scored six times, while also hitting his seventh home run of the season in the game in Charlotte and stealing his fifteenth base.
Honorable mention goes to Kyle Seager, who batted .500 and continues to lead the ACC with 63 runs batted in, by adding another six to his tally this week.

Pitcher of the Week: Southpaw sophomore Brian Moran pitched in three games this past week, not allowing a run in any of his relief appearances. In his six and two thirds innings pitched, he struck out six batters and only allowed six base runners on four hits and two walks. Two of his appearances were against Florida State this week, where he kept the Seminoles baffled.
Honorable mention goes to senior fireman Rob Wooten, who picked up both of the wins in the Florida State series and only gave up one run on the week in his four and two thirds innings pitched. He struck out six batters this week and allowed eight base runners (three hits, five walks).

Interesting Note: More than 11,000 fans attended the UNC-FSU series over the week at the Tar Heels' adopted home in Cary, including a season-high 4,133 fans in attendance on Saturday night. The USA Baseball Training Facility is in line to host regional competition for the Tar Heels this postseason and possibly a super-regional site if the Heels continue on their current pace.

Senior Appreciation Day: The Tar Heels honored their seniors at the Sunday afternoon game against Florida State. Senior third baseman Chad Flack surpassed the UNC record for career games started during that game, setting the mark at 245. Chad Flack, Rob Wooten, Kyle Shelton, Mike Facchinei, Tyler Trice and Seth Williams all have been involved in 190 Tar Heel victories over the past four seasons as Tar Heel baseball has achieved new heights of success.

Around the Coastal Division: Top-ranked Miami swept its weekend series with No. 16 Virginia, bringing its ACC record to 20-2 on the season (36-5 overall). All of the Coastal Division teams have more than 30 wins except for Virginia Tech, which has only 18 wins and is 4-20 in ACC play after being swept by Clemson over the weekend. Duke (8-14-1 ACC) won its series against Maryland, while Georgia Tech (12-12 ACC) won its series against Wake Forest.

Over in the Atlantic Division: Florida State is in control of the Atlantic Division with its 19-5 ACC record (37-5 overall), while North Carolina State has heated up, sweeping Boston College last weekend to bring its record to 15-8 in conference play (30-13 overall). Clemson is in third place in the Atlantic with a 10-13-1 ACC record (24-20-1 overall), while Wake Forest and Maryland are fighting to stay eligible to participate in the ACC Tournament, as only the top eight teams in the ACC will get to head to Jacksonville.

Looking Forward: The Tar Heels take a break in competition for final exams. After eight days off, they return to Cary for the final regular season home stand of the season against North Florida in a mid-week non-conference series starting on Tuesday May 6. Meanwhile, the Reece Holbrook (son of associate head coach Chad Holbrook) Sports Memorabilia Auction will be held on Sunday, May 4 at 6 p.m. at the basketball practice facility adjacent to the Basketball Museum and the Smith Center. For more information (and an updated auction list), CLICK HERE.


What do you and the team take away from the FSU series this weekend?

"Obviously we took away two very important wins -- important wins in our league, regionally and nationally. This was what I thought as being the best team that we have played all year. The way we won those games was unique and the game we lost was unique. We have not given up that many hits or runs in too many games this year. It is nice to go into final exams on a positive note."

Did it seem to you that the Florida State pitchers had something to prove against UNC after collectively struggling against Miami the previous weekend?

"I am not quite sure what their motivation was. I do know that they pitched well -- exceptionally well -- against us. They had a good game plan and scouting is extremely important in this league. You try to prepare how to attack hitters and I thought they stayed with their game plan and pitched to our kids' weaknesses. They did not make too many mistakes out there. The eleven-run eighth inning on Friday was taking advantage against their bullpen..."

Tell me about Brian Moran's performances coming out of the bullpen this weekend...

"Brian was sensational going through five and two thirds this week, only walking one and not giving up any runs. He has been lights out for us all year long. He is so consistent and is a great story. The way he entered our program as a walk-on and not even being guaranteed to be on the club and how hard he has worked. He has been a big, big asset coming out of that bullpen. You know how special being left handed allowed us to have a lot of options and ways to use him." What did you think of the fan support this weekend at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary this weekend...

"The best we have had by far [this season]... maybe the best we have ever had outside of a couple of regionals in the past couple of years. The best we have had in my ten years at North Carolina, not so much the numbers, having 3,500 or 4,000 people there, but how the crowd got into the game. Our baseball crowd is learning that they need to make noise to help us, instead of just cheering whenever we do something well. I thought they got into it and our kids really fed off of that and we are so appreciative of the people coming out and being there all weekend. The crowd definitely helped us win."

What is this coming week going to be like for the players with their break for exams from competition?

"It is exam week and our guys will be doing a lot of studying. They will be doing some lifting or throwing on their own -- it is all optional certainly during the first part of finals. We give them four days where they don't have to do anything physically baseball wise or mandatory. We will start to get them back at the end of the week, working along with their exams. They will be swinging the bat a little bit and the pitchers will be throwing some. We will get it cranked back up really good at the end of this weekend and the first of next week. Of course you know we play Tuesday [after that]... it is one of those breaks during the season that we have and are used to. Sometimes it can be beneficial and comes at a good time."

What's been your strategy with using Rob Wooten in different circumstances coming out of the bullpen this season?

"You know we obviously have a lot of trust in Rob based on his past performance and what he has done for this program, especially the past couple of years. We went into this year not designating him only as the closer and only using him in the last couple of innings when we were ahead. We felt he was too important just to lock into that one specific role. We use him when we think there is a critical part of the game where we need a big out or want to try to prevent the big inning. This is how we have used him and I think he likes being in that role. We can use him a lot of different ways, since we have done it that way and specifically we do trust him and he will come in and give us a chance. He has been really good for us this year -- now two years in a row."

Can you talk about the Reece Holbrook Sports Memorabilia Auction next Sunday on May?

"I am obviously very familiar with this event and from our baseball staff's standpoint and our program. It has been something that has been close to our program and all of us since Reece was diagnosed. The number of people that have stepped forward to donate items -- obviously not just from our baseball program -- signed things from Andrew Miller and those types and other Carolina athletes and professional athletes sent items in to auction off... it has been an incredible story. To be at one of those auctions and hearing what is going on and the fun that is being had and the money that is being raised for the Pediatric Oncology Department at UNC Hospitals is thrilling and it is an incredible event."

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