Monday with Mike Fox

Monday with Mike Fox

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox after UNC's series win in Tallahassee against No. 6-ranked Florida State. The Diamond Heels are 29-5 (12-3 ACC) heading into a mid-week game against East Carolina on Tuesday and a weekend series at NC State.

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Can you give your impressions of the weekend?
"It was a pretty good trip for us obviously finally getting a series win down there. It is a satisfied feeling and our kids were just so, so excited. That is a big series win for us, there is no question about it. We are very happy to have gotten out of there with two wins; it's a tough place to play."

What did you learn about your squad this weekend in Tallahassee?
"I have learned that -- well, I knew this before we went down there -- I have a bunch of kids that are just tough. They are grinders and they don't ever stop playing. They don't look at the scoreboard. It is just that I have a team with some qualities that are hard to teach and coach kids. This is something every coach wants in their players - just keep playing from the first pitch to the last. Don't worry about what happened before or what could happen later on and just focus on what you can do to help us win and these kids just want to win and will sacrifice whatever is necessary to get that done. I have said since the very beginning I love this team and the intangibles they have and it is showing."

One of the most impressive things this weekend was the superlative play of the outfield, saving runs with spectacular catches. Can you give your perspective on the outfield's defensive play this weekend?
"I feel like we have outfielders out there who can make plays and they all have worked very hard at it and worked hard to improve. Certainly Chaz Frank's catch on Saturday was a huge play. The one that they caught up against the fence was a spectacular play. Ben [Bunting] has been very solid for us in center field and Jeff Bouton and Seth Baldwin in right. They have all played very solid and we talk about just making the routine play and throwing the ball to the right base but every now and then you need an outfielder to make a great play for you. When those guys make great plays for you they are saving runs. We like those guys out there and we have a lot of confidence in them and they certainly played well at Florida State."

What did you think about Michael Morin's weekend, starting off with being the tough luck loser on Friday night, then bouncing back to earn two saves on Saturday and Sunday?
"It defines baseball. You are going to fail sometimes and you are going to succeed sometimes and you can't let either one of them define what kind of player you are. There was nobody more upset after Friday night's game than Michael. We were all upset because we had the lead late. It happens. Michael Morin is a big competitor and works very hard and we think he has good stuff and we wanted to get him back out there the next night because it is a powerful motivator when you have not done as well as you want to do and you get right back out there again. You are probably the most motivated guy on the field. Bringing him in Saturday and Sunday was huge for us. Yesterday was so impressive after pitching for two nights to throw three innings of shutout baseball to get us to the win was obviously huge for us."

Looking back on it I don't know if enough was made of the series win. This is the first Sunday game that Florida State has lost in the last 25 and this is the first time that the Tar Heels have won a series in Tallahassee since 1995 ...
"Well, you know what is funny is the kids don't care about that - they really don't. It is only the coaches and some of the fans and you that know things like that and read things like that. With these players, you have to remember that a lot of the guys on the field have never been there before - Jesse Wierzbicki and of course all of the freshmen and sophomores. They have never been there before so it tends to downplay that. Florida State is obviously a great venue and they really promote the fact that they come from behind and when they come to the ninth inning and they are behind they show this video on their board of all of their comebacks where they have come back to win in the ninth inning and unfortunately a few of those highlights were against us. We know some of the heartbreakers that we have lost down there but the players don't care and that is one thing that you have to love about 18- to 21- to 22-year-olds, that they don't focus too much on that kind of stuff or even if at all. All they know is that 'I am down here' and for most of them if not all of them because Florida State rotates off the schedule for us the next two years this will be the only time they get to play there. So I don't think many of them knew that. We are just focusing on this year and that is what I like about our team. We are not focusing on the fall, we are not focusing on injuries or who we don't have. They just love to play. They were just happy that we won a series on the road - another big-time ACC series on the road which helps us move forward. The coaches, me and Coach Forbes in particular because we have seen some slip away from us down there and we were keeping it bottled up for the most part, we knew how significant it was - it was a great feeling."

Greg Holt now has a record of 6-0 on the mound and has picked up the nickname in the press box of ‘The Vulture' because of his uncanny ability to pick up wins after the Tar Heels get in serious jams. Can you discuss his role this weekend and as a senior leader on the squad?
"Greg has done everything we have asked in his career. As I have said before, nobody has come any farther from when they first stepped on our campus to where they are now than Greg Holt. He is a great example of perseverance and hard work and sticking with it. That kid has had more ups and downs than probably any other kid that I have coached and he has just stayed with it. He has a terrific attitude and I think that this weekend kind of defines how Greg has taken on any role and he does not mind when he comes in, what inning and he will step up there and hit or run the bases. Obviously his biggest role for us is just the fact that we can bring him in the game and use him at any time to bridge the gap. I think he threw almost 90 pitches in the game yesterday and he gave up a few hits but really pitched well and made some pitches when he had to. So it is a real comfort to have him and to know that we can use him whenever we see fit at any time of the game."

The team's got a home game against in-state rival East Carolina then heads over to Raleigh to face NC State this weekend. Can you give a early scouting report on your opponents?
"It is another big week. Once we all get moving this morning after a late flight home we get back to work this afternoon and get a scouting report on East Carolina. It is very important for us to focus on them and they will bring a lot of people here which actually might help us. You just want fans in the stands whether they are yours or the other team's. A powerful motivator is when you have people pulling against you. We expect that tomorrow night and East Carolina will come in here really wanting to win after losing a series to Rice this weekend. They have a good team and we will worry about NC State after Tuesday night. You can't let this win linger and it is what it is and we got the series win but we have to go back to work this afternoon. That will be part of my short talk with the team: 'Let's be smart here and not have any hangover from the weekend and be ready to go Tuesday night.' It is going to be one of the most important mid-week games that we will play."

Have you and Coach Forbes decided on who you are going to start on the mound against East Carolina and do you have an update on Chris Munnelly, who was relieved early on Sunday at Florida State?
"We have not totally made that decision yet. I think Coach Forbes and I know who we want to start but we are not going to announce it yet. Chris Munnelly is available and we have extreme confidence in Chris. He is just going through a little funk right now and putting too much pressure on himself and rushing and trying to do too much. He wants to do so well and get off to a good start. We will get back to work and Coach Forbes is already talking to him and they will have a plan today to watch some video and get him back on track. We will need Chris Munnelly the rest of the season and we will get him straightened out and he will be a big part of our season the rest of the year."

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