"We've known each other for a number of years. I think we played when I was at Wesleyan, and we've played almost year that I've been here at North Carolina, so I've gotten to know him over the years. I have great respect for him and certainly what he's done there at Coastal. We actually had a chance to get his son on our campus for an unofficial visit and a football game, so Gary and I had a chance to talk during that time."
The temperatures are supposed to flirt with triple-digits during the games this weekend. What will your staff do to help counteract the heat for the kids?
"It's going to be a factor. As hot as it's going to be – and obviously we've been playing since January – so we've gone from cold to 99 [degrees]. You've got to hydrate. Our coaches and strength trainers have already talked to our players about the food that they are eating up to this point, when they're eating and about the caffeine and staying away from that sort of thing, as well as our pregame meals and that sort of thing that we have set up.
"I think we've got some fans coming – two fans for each dugout. I think they are the ones that blow the cool air mist, so we'll have the wet towels and I know our trainers will do everything they can to try to keep these kids as hydrated and as cool as they possibly can… The two positions on the field that are going to be taxed the most are on the mound and behind the plate."
With the temperatures as high as forecasted, do you change your strategy with regard to how many pitchers that you're going to use?
"We normally go into every game thinking that we're going to use more than one pitcher. We've only had one complete game all year long. But it would be asking a lot to ask a pitcher in this heat [to do that], and especially in these types of games and this type of competition to go the whole way. We won't be expecting that at all."
With your pitching and bats getting most of the attention, do you think your defense gets the attention it deserves?
"I don't necessarily think so. We've been a good defensive team, [but] I don't think we've been great. I also don't think that we've been below average. We've had stretches where we've been good. Our goal is a fielding percentage of .975, and we're not there. We'd like to average just one error per game – that was our goal to start the year. We were on track with that for a while, but then we fell off of that pace… But I think most people have given us credit in all three phases of the game. We've done above average, I would think, in all three phases all season long."
How big of a factor will experience be this weekend?
"I hope experience helps us. All of these guys have been through this before and know what's on the line and know what's at stake – the right to go to the College World Series. So I'm hoping they will approach it the right way and not be too hyped up and too keyed up to play. I think that's dangerous. It's dangerous to start the game that way and it's dangerous to try to play that way at the end, where you just try to do too much too early.
"And probably Alex is the best example of that, that he'll just be calm and give us all he's got for as long as he can. If it's four innings, that fine, and if it's five, then that's okay, too. I hope the experience will show if we get in a jam and get behind, or in a situation where we don't want to give up a big inning or maybe we have to make a big pitch or even advance a runner… Hopefully you'll see it in a positive way on our behalf."
Any particular reason why you've decided to go back to Alex White on Saturday, after Matt Harvey started the Regional opener last weekend?
"Obviously, our opponents were different. This was a no-brainer for us with this one. You've got to run your guy out there that's been your Friday guy, pretty much your No. 1 guy, all year long. You have to run him out there in this first game of this Regional. We thought Matt was ready last Friday and I think for the most part he was. He gave us three innings to where we got the lead, so it seemed to work out okay."