|Game 6 Play-by-Play|
The scoring was powered by a pair of two-run home runs from sophomores Seth Baldwin and Tarron Robinson. Read the news and notes from the game in addition to post game interviews with Mike Cavasinni, Jimmy Messer and head coach Mike Fox.
Day Late, Dollar Short
The Blue team squandered a great pitching performance from sophomore right hander Jimmy Messer, who went six shutout innings against the Fall World Series champion White (wearing Navy) squad, limiting them to four hits and two walks while striking out seven batters (getting Greg Holt four times).
"I just felt good - just went out there getting to play against all of these guys," Messer said after the game. "Near the end of the fall you kind of know how to pitch this guy or that guy. My two-seam fastball - threw a lot of them today. I tried to get ahead in the count and my curveball was working well."
Messer is in contention for a mid-week starting role after getting a couple of opportunities last season as the only freshman hurler on the squad. If he is able to build on this performance and his sinking fastball continues to drop out of the strike zone, he might be the beneficiary of the extra week of the 2010 baseball season.
"He has improved a lot, which is what we expect," Fox said. "Jimmy is one of our hardest workers - if not the hardest worker - on the team. Very, very committed. I think that with the growing pains from last year he was up and down a little bit but this summer he gained a little confidence and some experience and came back a completely different player. He and Coach Forbes worked a lot on that sinker and Jimmy is going to need to be - and I think he will be - a valuable member of our pitching staff this spring."
Not to be outdone on the mound, junior Colin Bates also had a strong performance, going six innings while allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. Most of the damage done was on Seth Baldwin's two-run shot in the first inning.
Speed vs. Power
The Diamond Heels have showcased their speed on the bases as well as aggressive approach this fall. On Tuesday the long ball was the difference, but it does not appear to change the overall outlook for 2010.
"We lose Ackley, Seager, Fleury and Gore - big bats that can hit the ball off of the batter's eye - even Baldwin, Tarron and Brett Thomas can do that," stated senior outfielder Mike Cavasinni. "But when we have guys who can run, one through nine if you get a guy on base that just puts more holes in the infield where can just hit into the gaps and go first to third or first to home which is going to bring a whole new aspect to Carolina Baseball."
Fox echoes the same message: "You know I never rely on that part of our game for offense," he said. "I never have. Who would have thought that Dusty would have hit 22 last year? If it happens, it happens. I think we have some guys who can hit it out of the ballpark. We are going to focus on the other parts of our offense and guys getting pitches to hit - anybody can hit a ball out of the ballpark with an aluminum bat if they work. Obviously Levi [Michael] has proven he can hit it out, [Ryan] Graepel can hit the ball out of the ballpark and Jesse [Wierzbicki] can hit the ball out of the ballpark. It is not going to be a big part of our offense."
Behind the Plate
With the departure of last season's starting catcher to the professional ranks there will be a significant amount of playing time opening up behind the plate. "Jesse Wierzbicki has a chance to help us – he's hard nosed and knows how to play the game," Fox said. "He is our catcher along with Jacob [Stallings] - you have to have two catchers during the course of 65 games. We also have worked Jesse at first base as well and if we catch Jacob we may want Jesse's bat in the lineup. We have to have a DH certainly. I think Jesse has proven that he is in the mix for us."
Stallings also may fill a role this season much like Tim Federowicz did in the past - coming out from behind the plate to pitch, while ceding more playing time to Wierzbicki or possibly third catcher Jeff May in home games.
What can you predict for the regular season from watching the Fall World Series? Mostly it is a lesson in competitiveness and showing that players can play at the college level. However, trying to predict what the coming season will be like for the Diamond Heels may be more difficult since they are of course merely competing against themselves.
"I am always reserved in the fall in trying to predict - I might as well flip a coin," Fox said. "Sometimes I think that ‘Boy we are really going to struggle a little bit' and we have been better and then there were other ones that I thought we would be better and we were not as good so I reserve judgment about it."
Fox elaborated after the game with a plea for changes in the college game. "It does not come to mesh together in the fall as it will in the spring," the Tar Heel skipper explained. "Every time we scrimmage the teams are split and so we never really have a chance to see us all in one dugout with the guys hitting 1 to 9 like they are going to in the spring. So I never see the right guy hitting behind the right guy in between some guy because they are always in another dugout because we make the scrimmages competitive. That is why we need to play 3 or 4 games against outside competition if the NCAA would enlighten themselves a little."
Stay informed on the offseason news and notes by checking the Diamond Heels Forum. Also, note that in-depth profiles of UNC's 2010 recruiting class are coming soon.