|Game 4 Play-by-Play|
The Diamond Heels were divided into two squads for the Fall World Series in order to gain valuable experience in a game setting. What's on the line? An eight-mile conditioning run for the losing side.
"We have had the coaches run [too] in the past," Fox said. "That is why I'm not coaching - I get to pick the team and I'm not sure I can run the eight miles. Obviously we want to be careful like at plays at the plate and breaking up double plays. But I think our guys still need to separate and that is why we have incentive to win because it is our only opportunity to really see these guys - especially the new ones - in a competitive want-to-win environment."
The Blue players must win the next two games if they want to avoid pounding the pavement with assistant coach Matt McCay. The White team, led by assistant coach Scott Jackson, has won three straight.
The mental side of competing against one's own teammates is a tricky balance for the baseball team. This was evidenced Saturday when sophomore Tarron Robinson collided with freshman second baseman Tommy Coyle on a throw up the middle after a wild pitch. "I think Tommy is going to have a black eye here pretty soon," Robinson said. "I think I caught him with my fist a little bit - I don't know what happened; the ball was coming and I slipped up a little bit and my hand went right up to his face. I was like, 'Oh my God I just killed this kid...' but he is alright, I just talked with him.
"When we are out here we are trying to compete against one another but at the end of the day we are all good friends and I would never do anything to hurt one of my own teammates - it is just one of those freak accidents."
Pitching Out of Trouble
In what appears to be a developing trend, the Tar Heel pitchers struggled out of the gate but bounced back to provide their team with an opportunity to win. Both freshman Cody Stiles and redshirt sophomore Garrett Davis gave up two runs in the first inning but stayed in the game for four innings.
The rotation and bullpen is loaded with young arms and the UNC Coaching staff is using the Fall World Series to figure out how to utilize them. "This is part of it, being able to bring them in to face a lefty or bring them in to close whatever the situation may be, so we are really watching pretty intently what is happening here," Fox said. "Obviously [pitching] coach Scott Forbes is. It is mostly who can come in and be aggressive and pound the strike zone and not hurt themselves and hold runners. All those intangibles are important. We need to play all six or seven of these games to see how guys can recover and who can come in the game and throw strikes and be competitive."
In addition to learning about the freshmen pitchers, Davis is returning to action after surgery on his elbow. "It is a long recovery from Tommy John [surgery] - at least a year minimum from a physical standpoint and I think that the mental part of it takes even longer than that," Fox said. "He has worked hard to get back. It is all about command issues with Garrett Davis. I was glad to see him come back after a rough first inning to regroup a little bit and show a little bit of mental toughness and some confidence to be able to come back and pitch another three innings and give his team a chance to win. That might be some of the best he has thrown this fall."
The Diamond Heels have a lot of pitching roles that will need to be filled by this talented but young staff. Patrick Johnson and Colin Bates thus far appear to have the inside track to fill the weekend rotation after Matt Harvey, but there will be a lot of mid-week starts in addition to bullpen roles to be filled.
Game 4 was prefaced by a barbeque for good crowd of friends and families in attendance. Assistant basketball coach Steve Robinson, fresh of Friday night's ‘Late Night with Roy' and Saturday morning's first full practice of the hoops season, watched his son, Tarron, hit a key home-run. "It has been good; he is always my number one fan," Tarron said of his father. "No matter what is going on - whether the good or the bad - he is always there for me. It has been a lot of fun for me and then I get to go and be a fan for him. It is a cool relationship and not too many guys get to experience it - it is just one of those bonds that we will have the rest of our lives with me being able to play here while he is coaching here."
In addition to Levi Michael switching uniform numbers from No. 1 to No. 6, Robinson also changed to No. 42. "I wanted to go 42," he said. "I thought about it last year and I talked with Coach Fox about it. The main reason I wanted to do it is to pay homage to my dad, who played basketball at Radford, and also the whole Jackie Robinson connection. I thought it would be my special way to pay tribute to those who have come before me and everything."
The Diamond Heels return to action Sunday at Boshamer Stadium for the fifth game of the Fall World Series at 1 p.m.