Fall World Series: Game 1 Notebook

CARY, N.C. --- The Tar Heel baseball team took the field at the USA Baseball Training Facility on Tuesday afternoon for Game 1 of the Fall World Series, an intra-squad competition that concludes fall practice.

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UNC divided its roster into two teams for the best-of-three series – and a deciding tiebreaker game if necessary. The White team is headlined by juniors Alex White, Kyle Seager and Mark Fleury, while the Blue team is anchored by sophomore Matt Harvey, and seniors Adam Warren and Garrett Gore. Both rosters have eight position players and five pitchers.

Considering the aces on the mound, it was no surprise that Game 1 was a pitching duel, with the White team prevailing, 1-0, in seven innings.

Oct. 28 – White 1, Blue 0 - 7 inn. (Play-by-play)
Oct. 29 - 3pm - Bates vs Warren
Oct. 31 - 2:30pm - Starters TBD
Nov. 1 - 1pm - White vs Harvey
Nov. 3 - 2:30pm - Bates vs Warren
Nov. 4 - 2:15pm - Starters TBD
Nov. 5 - 2:30pm - (if needed)

Pitching Match-up:
Arguably two of the most talented righthanders in college baseball were facing off in this game, with at least a dozen professional scouts in attendance.

Alex White started off this fall exhibition series just like he ended at the College World Series. He cruised through 5 2/3 innings, getting the win while only allowing two hits, two walks and striking out seven. He had both his slider and fastball working and over-matched most of the Blue team on Tuesday

Matt Harvey also pitched a gem for the Blue team. He only gave up one run in his 4 1/3 innings, with four hits, two walks and seven strikeouts.

Offensive MVP:
Newcomer Ryan Norton scored the only run of the afternoon and stole a base in his first action for the Tar Heels. The Lenoir Community College graduate has two years of eligibility remaining and should be an immediate contributor in the outfield and on the basepaths.

Play of the Game:
The highlight of the afternoon was the baserunning standoff between Garrett Gore, Mark Fleury and Jimmy Messer in the top of the seventh. With the Blue team down a run, Gore was on first and eying a theft of second. Messer entered the game and immediately threw over to first. Then Fleury got into the action almost picking Gore off with a strong and accurate snap throw. Next came a pitch out, though Gore stayed put. But on the very next pitch, Gore took out and Fleury gunned him down.

Interesting Note:
Trash talking and impressing the coaching staff aren't the only motivations at the Fall World Series. The losing squad must run 10 miles, according to head coach Mike Fox. The Blue team was fired up trying to rally the squad after White departed the game. At one point the Blue players had Gatorade cups hanging off their ears as a faux 'rally cap' [pictured] and had what sounded like war drums banging in the dugout.

with Head Coach Mike Fox

What are your initial thoughts about the first game of the Fall World Series today?
"It was good. A little more intense today. That is one of the reasons why we wanted to try to start this right now and do it in the fall -- to get them out and compete against one another in different uniforms with a little more excitement and attention along with something on the line."

Did you see the Blue players with their Gatorade cups on their ears and the banging of what sounded like war drums coming out of the dugout during the game? [post-game reports from fans in the stands came in that the Blue team was using a bucket and banging it with a bat during the rally].
"I don't know if that will be allowed in the spring... but in the fall we want them to have a little fun and compete and just enjoy being out here."

What's it like for freshmen to come out and have to face Alex White or Matt Harvey on the mound?
"Well they have faced Alex and Matt already all this fall in practice. That is an adjustment facing guys that can throw like the two of them do. We just want to see improvement each at bat and it is a lot about confidence in the batter's box -- some of them probably have not had quite as much success as they would like."

How much of an adjustment is it coming from high school to Division I baseball?
"It is a big adjustment - it is not just baseball, it is all the other things that go along with it. We had guys lifting this morning at 8 this morning. It is time management and then there is being a student with everything going on out here. There is a lot on them - that is why the fall is so important. It is that adjustment period and the guys have to get used to what is expected at this level."

What's the status of the renovation project at the Bosh?
"They are making a lot of progress. We lost some days there of work and got behind a little bit but right now from what they are telling me we are on schedule for completion by the end of the year. They are working as hard as they can to get the field ready - that is going to be a factor. They have got most of the equipment off of the field and the folks can get in to start working on the irrigation and drainage. The sod is being grown in a turf farm and it is all ready to go. Now that the roof is on and most of the interior stuff can be done no matter what the weather is. It is going to be close but hopefully we will be in there in time."

Tell me about the standoff at end of the game when Garrett Gore was trying to steal second...
"It was kind of a cat and mouse game - we thought that he was probably going to try to run out there in order to get the tying run in scoring position. I told Jimmy to throw over to first when he gets out there. Sometimes with freshmen relief guys it helps them get set - throwing over to first. Mark [Fluery] made a heck of a throw getting the pitch out of the dirt to throw him out. Mark has a good quick release as long as he keeps the front shoulder in there to throw strikes."

Which freshmen do you think will be in contention for playing time in the spring?
"Well, they all are right now. Really we don't have that many of them right now - Ryan Norton is a junior transfer. We lost four from our offensive team from last year. These young guys are all going to have to step up and get some playing time from Matt Harrison to Ryan Norton to Jacob Stallings..."

If the season started right now, who do you think you would have at closer?
"Alex White? [laughs] You know that is yet to be determined. We like all of our pitchers right now and I don't think that we have set up their roles yet. Garrett Davis, Ryan Leach and Rob Catapano will be returning and we have not had them out there - we might end up closing by committee this year. We don't know who will be doing it yet."

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