Monday with Mike Fox

The Tar Heels (45-16) defeated all three visiting teams at Boshamer Stadium to advance to next weekend's NCAA Chapel Hill Super Regional. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

Last Week: Regional
5/29/09 - UNC 5, Dartmouth 3
5/30/09 - UNC 14, Coastal Carolina 5
5/31/09 - UNC 12, Kansas 1

Chapel Hill Regional Most Outstanding Player Dustin Ackley has surpassed any adjectives to describe his play. Words elude his .508 batting average for the month of May – including .714 in this past weekend's Regional - and he now has 10 multiple hit outings in his last 15 games. Ackley also leads the ACC with 21 home runs and now resides in fifth place on the UNC single season list, only three behind Devy Bell's 24 in 1986.

Ben Bunting is heating up in the leadoff position, as he has six multiple hit performances in the last seven games. Garrett Gore put on a show on Sunday evening with two home runs - including a grand slam to deep center and one into the scoreboard in left center.

Adam Warren pitched 6.2 innings of shutout baseball on Sunday against Kansas and is tied for second place for victories in a career at North Carolina. Meanwhile, UNC's relief pitchers allowed one run in 9.1 innings throughout the weekend.

The Tar Heels are now 41-20 in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Mike Fox and 29-8 since the start of the 2006 season. This senior class of Garrett Gore, Adam Warren, Mike McKee and redshirt junior Mike Cavasinni are 16-1 at home during the postseason. This is their fourth straight season advancing to the Super Regionals.

This Week
Chapel Hill Super Regional

Either South Carolina or East Carolina will be the Tar Heels' Super Regional opponent and the official announcement of game times will be made Monday at 11 p.m.

You're now 14-1 at home in the postseason in the last four years and heading to your fourth straight Super Regional...
"Thank you - a very exciting weekend for our kids. They played very well and we are thrilled to still be playing."

What were your impressions of the Regional?
"The NCAA Tournament is a whole different deal. I thought our players really kind of turned it up a notch and we had that little edge about us. You could see it in their eyes a little bit and we were determined to play well in the first regional in the new stadium. We certainly got a great pitching performance from Adam Warren and got great offense from a number of our players up and down for three days. Other than the one inning where we made three errors we were solid defensively so I thought all in all it was a very good weekend for us."

Coastal Carolina Coach Gary Gilmore stated Sunday in the post-Kansas press conference that his squad never recovered from losing the game against the Tar Heels. How is your team prepared to face adversity moving forward in the postseason?
"You have to face it all during the year in our league - every college team does when you have three game series. You have to turn around the next day and play. You talk about that with your team - being able to manage the ups and downs. It is just the way baseball is; it is that kind of sport. You are on the field back-to-back-to-back days and sometimes you have good days and sometimes you don't and you have to have a short memory and get right back out there. With what everybody is playing for this coming weekend that should not be an issue really."

This last weekend there were some crazy happenings around college baseball. What it would be like for you to play in a 25-inning game?
"I could not imagine that - I really couldn't. That is over seven hours; that is an incredible thing. You only see something like that once in your lifetime. I felt bad for Mik [Aoki] at [Boston College] to come out on the losing end of that game - I really did. They gave Texas their best shot and it certainly zapped them for the next day, which is understandable..."

What did you think of Texas' relief pitcher Austin Wood going out for 13 innings - would Coach Forbes tackle you if you tried to leave a pitcher out there for that long?
"I don't know about that - that was an incredible performance by that young man. You can't and certainly would never question any other program or coaches, they all have their own philosophies on things. I'm sure that young man did not want to come out of that game - certainly the way he was throwing, that was terrific performance by him."

Florida State set a record scoring runs, while having their pitcher staff playing the infield and clearing the bench, but could not do any wrong with the bats against Ohio State ...
"That was one of those games where that's baseball. You don't see it very often but it happens sometimes where the ball comes off the bat and nobody is there. I don't know much about the game other than what I have read. I hope I am never on the other end of one of those - that would have been pretty difficult to watch. Congratulations certainly to Florida State."

One of the things you have had Coach Jackson working on with Levi Michael is turning the double play at second. How has that worked out for the team of late?
"We have gotten some ground balls with guys on first base and that kind of starts with the pitcher certainly, making a good pitch and making a good feed. This is Levi's really first time ever playing second base and it is different and you have to get used to it. I think every game he has gotten more and more comfortable and Coach Jackson has worked with him a lot on his pivot and kind of settling down and one thing at a time and keeping his body under control - that is a good thing to see."

How difficult of a transition do you think it is to play second after playing short?
"It is different - you don't have to worry too much about your throw generally. He is a good athlete and he has adapted. He did not have the benefit of the fall to work. We could have hit him 10,000 ground balls in the fall and turned all those double plays and got him comfortable but he did not have that opportunity. Then the weather in the preseason was not good and we could not get on the field as much as we wanted to. So it kind of was a work in progress during the season, but he has gotten better."

Without yet knowing your opponent for next weekend, can you comment on facing either East Carolina or South Carolina in the Super Regional?
"When you get to the Super Regionals you are going to play one of the 16 teams that are left. Not only are you going to play a great team but a team that is hot and a team that is confident. What league they are from is I think irrelevant at this point. We just have to be able to manage ourselves and play well. Both of those teams from those programs are going to present all kind of problems and challenges for us. We have got to manage this week and be ready no matter who it is."

All the opposing coaches were highly complimentary of UNC's efforts in hosting the Regional. What people need to get credit for their hard work making the event possible?
"Our athletic department takes a lot pride in when we host a regional in any sport - you can see it. It takes a whole village, so to speak. Everybody comes together from our parking folks, to our operations, to our facilities, to certainly Kevin Robinson and the field crew, back to our operations - everyone. I can't thank those people enough. I think we do a good job of hosting and I think people recognize that and I am sure we will do a fantastic job of that this coming weekend."

What is the team's schedule like the rest of the week heading into the Super Regional?
"We are going to get the guys together today and go through a light lift and we will not get on the field today certainly, but will get on the field tomorrow. We will meet as a staff here shortly and plan out the week and we will have to see when we are playing and when the game times are. We will certainly continue to practice and lift and we will do some team functions and really try to have some fun this week and try to be around the guys - this is a great time of year. We will let them rest up but we will have fun with them too."

What kind of contingency plans do you have for the pitching staff with Alex White being banged up and Adam Warren going Sunday. Is there any chance that Matt Harvey will start the first game?
"We have not even talked about that - I don't think that will happen. We will monitor the situation for the next couple of days and we will not announce our starter for two or three days."

Inside Carolina Top Stories