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May 22, 2019

Mike Fox

Tyler Baum

Ike Freeman

Durham, North Carolina

North Carolina - 3, Virginia - 2 (10)

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with the North Carolina press conference. We're joined by coach Mike Fox and student-athletes Ike Freeman and Tyler Baum. Coach, give us an opening statement.

COACH FOX: Just a good win for us. Obviously a terrific game, I thought. Just I think Virginia is really good, and to hold them to two runs is a credit to Tyler and to Joey.

And it's just nice to get a win obviously to start the tournament. And, again, I thought it was a terrific game. The key for us is not making mistakes and limiting our walks and that gives us a chance. So we had a chance.


Q. Tyler, your stuff is always good but it seemed particularly electric tonight. Were you just a little extra jacked up in this atmosphere? And how did you feel your stuff was tonight?
TYLER BAUM: It felt great. I think the atmosphere -- we had a bunch of fans tonight they were pretty rowdy. That was great and I think it jazzed me up a little bit.

Q. I think it was the ninth inning, bases loaded, what was going through your mind when Joey was in that inning trying to get out of the jam and when he finally did get out of it? For anybody, their thoughts on that.
COACH FOX: I'm not sure what was going through their mind but for us it was like very fast. His best pitch is his fastball. And we were going to throw that pitch. I thought Danny made it -- that was a tough play he made to end that inning.

So we got a little lucky there. Morris is just such a good player and a good hitter and he sprays the ball around. And it's good to see Danny make that clutch play.

Q. Mike, you paired eight hits, seven walks and 13 strikeouts. What's the key to getting more consistency at the plate?
COACH FOX: When we get outhit our record's pretty good. So I'm told. It was not very good last year. But, yeah, I mean, again, we don't like the strikeouts but, boy, those are two pretty darned good arms we're facing. That's just part of it.

Abbott is, you know, I mean, that's 91 to 93 from the left side with a terrific breaking ball. You're lucky to get in there and get a good swing off against him.

So we did just enough. We've certainly gotta be a little better offensively to keep winning. But I thought we hit some balls hard at times. But, again, our walks, we don't look at it as number of hits. We do count those walks and we've walked a lot this year -- still lead the ACC and in the top in the country. So we look at the ball good. So for us walks are -- we put those in the singles column.

Q. Ike, you guys left some runners and runners in scoring position in late innings. Did you feel it was a matter of time before you would get that big hit -- or as it turned out hit by pitch? And have you ever been involved in a game with a walk-off hit by pitch?
IKE FREEMAN: I've never been in a game with a walk-off hit by pitch, but a win's a win. We still strung together quality at-bats. Michael Busch in the last inning, it was like an eight pitch at-bat and then he crushes the ball to center; we thought he got it.

But we just keep trying to put quality at-bats together. That's what we did. That kid was good, that lefty. So we got it done.

Q. Ike, coming off two pretty bad games where you guys kicked the ball around, you played error-free defense as a team today. How did you kind of reset yourselves after that NC State weekend, and what was the message in practice and kind of the motivation factor as well?
IKE FREEMAN: Good teams just flush that. I mean, that's going to happen. You're going to make errors. But for us to come back and make error-free defense, that's what's expected. We worked hard the past few days, especially on defense.

It doesn't surprise me at all. We have very good defenders. We just have to have confidence in ourselves and that's what we did tonight.

Q. Ike and Tyler, a lot of experience on this club. You guys have had success in the postseason. Now that it is the postseason, is there that added sense of, okay, now is the time to really buckle down?
IKE FREEMAN: I mean, to go off his last question, you know, it's a new season. It's the postseason, whatever happened in the past. I mean, we did come off a tough weekend, but you just gotta let that go. The postseason is when you step up and you play your best game.

TYLER BAUM: I just think we have a core group of guys who have been here in the past that have played in big games. So, flushing last weekend and moving on. Like Ike said, it's a new season so just move forward and 1-0 in the brand new season, so on the right track.

Q. Mike, Brian O'Connor is known for using the squeeze. Did you think that was going to happen there in the ninth with Richardson up?
COACH FOX: Yes, we got a sign with Michael Busch there, I didn't know if they would suicide or safety, but we were looking for it and expecting it. Of course, it's hard to defend with the bases loaded, so we were probably one pitch away maybe of crashing Michael there, just depending on the count. But, yeah, it's something that we certainly had in the back of our mind.

Q. Was the decision to pinch-hit Caleb there in the tenth basically a lefty-righty thing, or is he a guy with the bases loaded that sees a lot of pitches, could maybe draw a walk? What's the thought process?
COACH FOX: Caleb doesn't strike out very much, for one. He's probably, out of all of our guys, he's probably got the least number of strikeouts per at-bats. And the splits were different for Ortiz from righties to lefties.

Caleb runs pretty well -- not that a double play was in order there because they had the infield in, but I just felt like he would move the ball. He looks at the ball pretty good, just is more about him being a freshman and hoping he was calm and just trying to get him to breathe and relax.

Q. Does it seem to you like Tyler is really kind of peaking at the perfect time? Seems he's come up big for you down the stretch here?
COACH FOX: I told him earlier he kind of had that look on his face, I thought tonight. And I thought he was really ready. It's 113 pitches and six days' rest, so we weren't really concerned. But we were hoping he could give us seven and his pitch count would be down.

But he works so hard. That's why he's throwing 93 in the seventh inning. It's a credit to how hard he works. And so he's prepared, and he's a winner. And you want your best guys and your best pitcher right now, you want them to be at their best in these games. And he was.


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