Monday with Mike Fox

The Tar Heels are now 7-1 and ranked No. 3 in the nation, with a big ACC opening series against Clemson looming this week. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

Weekend Recap
Tues. (2/24) - Coastal 7 UNC 3
Wed. (2/25) - UNC 9 Liberty 5
Fri. (2/27) - G1: UNC 5 Seton Hall 1
Fri. (2/27) - G2: UNC 4 Seton Hall 3
Sat. (2/28) - UNC 10 Seton Hall 3

The Tar Heels lost their first game of the season against the #18 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and then rebounded to defeat Liberty and sweep a three game series with Seton Hall.

The key story for the weekend was the weather - the Pirates and Tar Heels adjusted their schedule to fit around the rainy weekend (with credit due to the new playing surface on Bryson Field and its drainage capabilities, along with the determination of the grounds crew) and complete the third game on Saturday.

Ben Bunting and Mark Fleury starred this week with the bats. Fleury hit two home runs driving in six Tar Heels. Bunting had an on base percentage of .555 and was a terror on the basepath - putting pressure on the pitchers and the opposing team's defense using his speed on the bases. Seven of the Tar Heel starters are batting over .370 so far this season.

Matt Harvey was able to pick up a pair of wins this weekend - the first coming in relief at the end of the second game of the Friday doubleheader and the second starting the game on Saturday in the 'staff outing' with his three inning stint. The Tar Heel pitching staff is currently striking out 39% of opposing batters this season and averaging 13 strikeouts a game.

This Week's Schedule
Tues. (3/3) - Longwood - 3 pm
Wed. (3/4) - Gardiner-Webb - 3 pm
Fri. (3/6) - #19 Clemson - 3 pm
Sat. (3/7) - #19 Clemson - 2 pm
Sun. (3/8) - #19 Clemson - 1 pm

On the weekend series sweep of Seton Hall...
"It was probably a miracle in itself that we were able to get all three games in. A testament to certainly our grounds crew on Saturday and I think we made the right call in playing two on Friday. So that is the whole goal - trying to play the games - especially when you have a team from a long way away who have spent all the money and is here. So I am glad we were able to get the games in - that was the most important goal."

On the week ahead and looking forward to Clemson...
"Of course our first order of business is to be ready to play on Tuesday and Wednesday and that is always the trick with these games coming up. These next eight weeks are all crazy with five games a week. Certainly the ACC is coming and coming quickly - everybody is in the same boat with having played eight to ten games. Clemson, I am sure, is going to have a terrific team. I think they were young last year and I think they kind of lost their confidence over a stretch of time which is kind of a killer for any team. They got Addison Johnson back, who I think has been a catalyst for their team in their leadoff spot and some of the guys in the middle of their order [first baseman Ben] Paulson and [outfielder Kyle] Parker who can hurt you. Their pitching is solid and they are very deep on the mound and they will mix and match with us bringing these lefties in. I am tickled to death seeing the long range forecast that it is going to be warm - so it looks like we will have a great weekend."

On being able to use the indoor hitting facility during poor weather...
"We had that capability to be able to do that in the old Bosh, being able to go back inside right off from our locker room and hit, but not to the extent that they can do it here. It is important to have a facility to be able to have that and have our guys be able to walk right back through the locker room and stay warm and active, which was important because it was so cold. We can't do that during the ACC games because we have a league rule that you can not use your batting cages during the game, so that will be a moot point this weekend."

On how the field drainage system working during the weekend...
"One of the reasons we put the sand based field in is the ability for that type of field to drain very well - of course we have a great drainage system in as well. That is what our facility has been missing for a long time. We knew one of the big positives of our new facility was going to be the drainage and you saw how well it worked on Saturday night."

On the ground crew on Saturday night...
"Those guys work very hard. They don't even have their building out there in left field yet to move into, so that made it doubly hard on them not having all the surface they needed at the field, having to go down to their shop at Finley. They had a long day and I am grateful for all of their hard work. It is a testament to their commitment to help us get the game in - it was nice to see them work as hard as they did."

On Mike Cavasinni getting his form back from his freshman year...
"We knew that it was going to be a little work in progress with Cavi after essentially laying off for two years and practice is one thing, but getting back to that game situation is kind of another step for him. He has started off a little slow but I think that in each at bat he is getting a little more confidence back. We need for him to hit the ball on the ground, we need for him to not strike out and use his speed - that is his game and he is going to have to continue to do that in order to be a big part of our offense."

On the pitching rotation coming up...
"Actually we are meeting right here shortly – tomorrow's game is a little iffy right now with looking out my window and it does not look too promising with no sun out. We are possibly going to go with Jimmy Messer tomorrow and Bryant Gaines on Wednesday and then White, Warren and Harvey on Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

On Colin Bates...
"We were able to get him back in the game quickly the next day after the Coastal game, which I thought was important for him and his confidence. I was so impressed with his performance on Saturday night as cold as it was and how well he just pounded the strike zone. He was so efficient - we love a guy to come in and throwing a lot strikes as cold as it is you want the game to move quickly. He got comfortable in that role - similar to the one he was in last year. Certainly he looked sharp Saturday night."

On Garrett Davis' progress...
"Garrett was available this last weekend. We want to bring him in a situation where there is not a whole lot of pressure on him and just kind of let him get a feel and a rhythm - Saturday night probably would have been a good night - but because of the weather it probably would not be the safest thing to do. He is healthy but we kind of have to pick the right time to get him in there - he wasn't really available until this weekend in terms of his game pitching. We will see, hopefully we will be able to get him in this week."

On Kyle Seager's move to third...
"He has played well there - it was the move he needed to make I think in the best interests of our team and he was more than willing to get over there and make that move and be the best third baseman he can be. He is learning a new position, where to play. He is such a good talent and his instincts are great and you have seen him make some big plays over there - some tough plays - and I think he has the capability of being a really good third baseman."

Talk with UNC baseball fans on Inside Carolina's Diamond Heels Message Board
On Mark Fleury taking advantage of RBI opportunities...
"Mark has been up there with Ackley, Seager and Gore batting in front of him and all three of them have been swinging the bat well, so Mark has gotten up there with people on base. And I think he has relished that opportunity and he likes to be in that situation, which is extremely important and you take it as a challenge and he has started off extremely well for us."

On heading toward 1,000 wins as a college head coach (at NC Wesleyan and UNC) ...
"I wanted it to be special for the players because they are the ones who have done it and I am not a big advocate of coaching awards or these types of things. I think all the credit should go to the players and I certainly pass any and all recognition that I should or will receive for this number to all the players that I have coached at Wesleyan since 1983 all the way until the present day. The most fun part is that I hope to be able to hear from some of those guys and I have already heard from some of them and that is the real joy of coaching: to continue the relationship with the players that you have coached. I will pass on certainly all the recognition to the hundreds of players that I have been able to coach for 26 years."

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