|Game 3 Play-by-Play|
The Diamond Heels were particularly active and aggressive on the bases in this game. Freshman outfielder Chaz Frank stole three bases and Matt Harrison's recorded one. Meanwhile, Tommy Coyle, Seth Baldwin and Frank were all caught stealing -- the Blue team even attempted a double steal of second and home, albeit unsuccessfully. Also, freshman outfielder Brett Knief motored his way around the bases for an inside the park home run.
Head coach Mike Fox has always stressed the importance of solid baserunning, but the team has been much more aggressive this fall with the running game. "That is something Coach Fox has always emphasized to us," senior outfielder Mike Cavasinni said. "Always going from first to third and reading balls in the dirt and stealing. Especially this year, we have guys like Brian Goodwin, Dillon Hazlett, Tommy Coyle - all the new guys that can run along with Ben [Bunting]. I think Coach just feels that we have a good shot at stealing more bases and getting good reads.
"We have really worked hard in practice about getting good leads and getting good jumps and trying to get that aspect of stealing bases back in our game because if you do it sets up so much more pressure on the pitchers and catchers - then we get good pitches and get an opportunity to drive the ball."
Fox and the coaching staff have been working on getting the newcomers up to speed. "We are a work in progress with these young guys in terms of stealing bases," Fox said. "They are not used to guys having good quick moves to first and being able to be quick to the plate. They have to judge when they should run and when they shouldn't. We are going to make some mistakes and as long as they are making them being aggressive we can live with that."
Defending the Basepaths
The aggressive baserunning approach has provided the team with valuable experience in defending the basepaths.
"It helps our catchers certainly and more importantly I think that we have so many young pitchers and they have to learn how to hold runners and be a little quicker to the plate," Fox said.
The importance of defense up the middle is critical for controlling the opponent's running game - from being able to handle breaking pitches behind the plate and working on the POP times from the catcher to the middle infielders. Passed balls, wild pitches and errant throws will only compound the damage. Mo< "You can see - especially with me at second base - I had not been out there much and I get to the base really late and Jesse [Wierzbicki] makes a great throw and I get there late and couldn't get the guy out," illustrated Cavasinni. "So it is really important - each day in practice and each day out here - you try and get to the bag and try to just emphasize those things so we can stop their running."
The added attention to the running game should pay off dividends in the spring, especially against some of more aggressive baserunning squads in non-conference and ACC play - notably Elon, Clemson, NC State, Florida State and Virginia.
Thriving Under Pressure
The White team won Game 3 on Friday because of a gusty performance from freshman hurler Parker Thomas. The right hander was hit hard in the second inning, giving up four runs on two home runs, however he earned the win by fighting through the adversity, staying in the game and going five innings - retiring seven of the last eight batters he faced.
"That was impressive to us," Fox said. "That was one of the big plusses of today. These young guys are having to learn on the mound as well. You are going to give up a hit or two every now and then and you have got to settle back down. I thought he commanded the strike zone better than he has been. That is the most important thing about our young guys - throwing strikes."
Greg Holt relieved Thomas, switching over from playing first base, to slam the door on any chances of a late inning comeback. Holt earned a save in his two-inning outing starting, during which he struck out the first four batters he faced.
"We have seen Greg Holt do that before," Fox said. "We have not needed him on the mound as much the last two years but I think you will see him play an even bigger role for our team coming out of the bullpen. He is a competitor - that is Greg's biggest attribute. He loves to compete, whether it is in the box or on the mound. He has a really good arm, a good breaking ball and he can throw strikes. We have put more emphasis on his pitching this fall and we will the rest of this semester and when we start this spring."
Values of Experience
Prior to the start of the Fall World Series, a pair of seniors drafted the squads. Cavasinni angled for experience when selecting his White squad and that decision paid dividends in Friday's Game 3. Cavasinni, Ben Bunting and Levi Michael combined for six hits, five runs and five runs batted in to pace the top of the White lineup.
Fox had a different spin on experience and leadership after the game. "When you have such a young team you need to have some upperclassmen - whether seniors or juniors - who sort of set the tone. If you just watched after the scrimmage today I told them all to leave and Matt Harvey is out there with a rake and Bryant Gaines is out there helping me cover the mound and they were not asked to do that. Those are little things that some people don't see and might kind of go unnoticed. I see it - and Bryant runs down there and covers the bullpen. It is his fourth year in the program; he does not have to do those sort of things - at least he is not asked to do it. To me that is one little part of leadership that nobody sees but it really helps our team."
The Fall World Series continues with a second best-of-three series that begins Saturday at 1 p.m.