FWS: Game 1 Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- North Carolina opened its Fall World Series with Game 1 on Tuesday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium. Read the news and notes from the opener, including a postgame interview with head coach Mike Fox.

Game 1 Play-by-Play
Mike Fox Postgame

Veteran Starters

Juniors Matt Harvey and Patrick Johnson got the call for the Game 1 start, with Johnson recording the win in the Blue team's 4-3 victory.

"We got good pitching [today], which was what we expected with two veterans out there pounding the strike zone – we figured it'd be a low scoring game," Fox said.

Johnson held the White team to two hits and two earned runs over 5.2 innings.

"P.J.'s pitch count stayed down and he probably could have pitched the whole game, but that's not really the point of these World Series games," Fox said.

Harvey allowed six hits and four earned runs over 4.2 innings.

"Matt had good velocity today and made some good pitches," Fox said. "I thought they were both pretty sharp – both have pitched well for us this fall."

While the early guess is that these two will be the top two weekend starters for the Tar Heels next spring, Fox is not ready to jump to that conclusion as of yet.

"We've got some competition as far as our pitching is concerned and a lot of those questions will be answered if we are able to play seven of these World Series games," Fox said. "In terms of who is going to start for us in what particular order, we won't make that decision until way into January and the early part of February. They pitched today for a reason, but there's some competition amongst that group."

Standout Hitters

As expected with Harvey and Johnson on the mound, this wasn't a slugfest at the plate. Only three Tar Heel batters recorded multiple hits. Ryan Graepel was 2-for-3, including a two-run single in the third inning, however he's a proven commodity on this team and the Fall World Series is more about identifying which newcomers and returning players will emerge.

Freshman second baseman Tommy Coyle grabbed the spotlight on Tuesday, reaching base in all four plate appearances (three singles and a walk), stealing two bases and scoring two runs.

"Tommy is a good player - no nonsense, comes to play," Fox said. "He has had a terrific fall for us. He's been a good surprise – he's a tough little nut. He can run and puts the ball in play and played very well today."

Junior Greg Holt led off the fifth inning with a home run, the only multi-base hit in the game by either team. He was 2-of-3 for the day from his DH spot, continuing his strong play from last fall.

"We need Greg to step up offensively," Fox said. "We're going to pitch him – he's going to have a more prominent role pitching for us this year as well – but he's got power, as evidenced by the home run sitting on a fast ball. He's improved; he had a good summer, gained some confidence and it's showing this fall."

The Search for Relievers

With eight freshmen pitchers joining the roster, Fox and pitching coach Scott Forbes are eager to see which newcomers separate themselves from the pack this fall.

"This fall [we're looking at] probably pitching more than anything else," Fox said. "Seeing who can come in out of the bullpen, who can get lefties out, who can get righties out, who can hold strikes, who can hold runners. We've got to find us some young guys that have some confidence – a little moxie, a little toughness – coming out of the bullpen that aren't afraid to throw strikes and pitch to contact."

Four freshmen relievers saw action on Tuesday – Zach Bernard, Chris Munnelly and R.C. Orlan each got in a scoreless inning of work, while Cody Stiles recorded a one-out save for the Blue team.

"We have a lot of young guys and it's fun to watch them," Fox said. "They all have their strengths and this is the first time we've brought them in out of the bullpen and it isn't scripted. That's the transition they have to make from being a starter to being a reliever – you've got to transition quickly and attack the strike zone."

The Fall World Series continues on Wednesday at Boshamer Stadium, with Game 2's first pitch scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Inside Carolina Top Stories