How many innings would it take for your pitching staff to run out of pitchers?
“Wow, you know, I have no idea. Normally if this would have been a game that we had to win to advance like in a double elimination format we still had Munnelly, Thorton and Cherry. I think we used everybody else. When you have a guy step up like Hovis that allows you to have plenty of arms and we feel great about what we have tomorrow and what we have if we can advance past tomorrow.”
What made Benton Moss so effective early in the game tonight?
“I thought Moss was good all day actually, so it is funny that you asked me that because I talked with him about that and I told him that I thought his pitchability and his stuff was as good as it has been all year. The one run they scored was a bloop hit off the bat where they also stole second base. But he was doing a good job on both sides of the plate with his fastball. A couple base hits that he gave up were curveballs that he left up a little bit in first pitch counts. Other than that I was plenty pleased with Benton Moss today.”
Being at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the press section tonight I got a different vantage point than I normally would have at a game and noticed the break on Moss’ curve ball and how he was working low effectively with his fastball…
“That’s important for Benton. When he stays down and creates that angle he is going to be able to pitch deep into games. His slider has really come along and that helps him tremendously and Clemson is a tough lineup for any right handed pitcher because they have a boat load of left handed hitters and I thought he did a good job. I thought we gave them a couple of runs there. He had a guy picked off of second base. So it is those little things that we talk about in practice that we need to be able to do that we didn’t do.”
Speaking of practice, can you discuss how you practice with the pitchers to come off the mound ready to field their position and who is among the best fielding pitchers on the team this year?
“It is something that we do all the time. We tell all our pitchers that we want them to be a complete pitcher and that includes controlling the running game, working off the mound and King of the Hill is a game that we play at the end of practice where you smoke balls at them but everything else is very organized. Our guys know that they have to be able to field their position and most importantly that they have to field bunts. We spend a boatload of time on it. Our older guys are really good at it, Kent [Emanuel] and Munnelly and they kind of lead the way with the rest of the guys.”
How do you keep your pitchers that don’t get a lot of innings or regular innings sharp and keep their arms stretched out?
“We talk about that all the time. As a coach you have to take pride in spending time with every pitcher if they have only pitched 10 innings or 110. The reason Reilly [Hovis] had success like he had tonight is that he works. When you work hard and a coach does not have to hold your hand all the time you are going to be good. That is why Reilly has come along so strong throughout the year.”
One of the quirks of this Round Robin format is that the Clemson game did not have any relative merit on who could advance to the final game as the winner of tomorrow’s NC State/UNC game would advance. What was your opinion of the performance of your staff in managing extra innings and keeping the Heels within striking distance of the Tigers?
“Awesome. Mason comes in and that was a close situation because we just took the lead. I know it wasn’t a three run lead but Mason needed to have some success doing that. Hovis picked us up. We took McCue out earlier because we knew the game didn’t mean anything. He only threw 20 pitches. We weren’t going to use Hobbs Johnson because he is starting and we didn’t want to use Munnelly or Thornton and we stuck to that plan and the reason we were able to do that is because guys stepped up.”
The atmosphere for the game should be electric tomorrow evening between North Carolina and N.C. State as the game should be completely sold out. How excited is the team for the chance to have a third game against your arch rivals from Raleigh and the chance for Hobbs Johnson to face the Pack this season?
“Absolutely, it is a good challenge. Our guys know that we have to match them, just like we did last year. We would say if we have to put up zeros, we’ll put up zeros. That is what we have to do tomorrow. We have to score some runs off of Carlos [Rodon] but he is hard to score runs off of – he has 137 strikeouts. Hobbs has been in the fire and he’s pitched some big games and he has pitched really well lately. He retired 16 plus in a row against Virginia, Hobbs is confident and ready. I’m sure he is really excited.”
Can you discuss the start that Matt Harvey has had this season with the Mets from your perspective?
“I’ll tell you Matt is a true example of why you coach. Matt has always been talented. But he needed some other guidance. Luckily he stuck with it, we stuck with him and he stuck with us. He is having so much success but I think he’ll tell you that a lot of it has to do with our program. No one in particular but Alex White, Adam Warren and all his teammates, Chad Flack and all those guys way back. They were here in ’08. They took him under their wing and he became one of the better kids we have ever coached here. The success he is having is unreal but we knew he would become a major leaguer.”