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June 22, 2011

Mike Fox

R.C. Orlan

Jacob Stallings


Vanderbilt – 5
North Carolina - 1

THE MODERATOR: Give us an overview, Coach.
COACH FOX: Oh, overview? The Tar Heels had one heck of a season. That's my overview to start. As far as the game is concerned, we've just gotten beaten by a better club, and tonight it's as simple as that. Vanderbilt's got a terrific team. They pitched well, and obviously getting down early put us in a tough spot, put us in a hole, and climbing out of it.
We had a couple of opportunities, but I thought Hill pitched really well for us. Really good night. Had a sinker ball out there with the wind blowing out like it was, we had a lot of groundballs especially early. You know, couple of long balls that certainly got us behind.
I give a lot of credit to Vanderbilt. They've had a terrific season. It will be interesting to see how they do in the World Series from here on out.
Obviously, end of the year, you know, you hear the same stuff from coaches about their team and their players. I don't think anybody expected us to be here, to end our season here or to even be here at the start of the season.
So such a great credit to our players and how committed they were just to make it this far. It's obviously very difficult to win the National Championship. We gave it all we had, but I'm proud that we were able to end our season in Omaha in the College World Series, and these guys got to experience it. I had a great group. I had a great group. They were fun to be around, and they taught me a great deal, especially our seniors. They taught me a lot. I just told them in the locker room, and we had fun together.
So I'm sorry our season is coming to an end for that because they've been a fun bunch to be around.

Q. When you left practice yesterday you weren't ready to say who your starting pitcher would be. What went into that, and how tough of a role is it for Greg when he's been closing for a lot of his career or at least been in relief?
COACH FOX: Yeah, he's been a reliever, but he started some games for us. It's not unknown territory for him. He just obviously with Kemp giving up the triple and right out of the gate giving up 1-0 and we didn't make a good pitch to Harrell there, and he got a ball up. It was just one of those things. But, I mean, Greg hasn't closed for us for a while. He's been a reliever, he's been a long reliever for us. So I don't know that had anything to do with it in terms of starting the game. He just didn't make some good pitches and left the ball up over the middle of the plate against some good hitters and they took advantage of it.

Q. Mike, that fifth inning you guys had a big opportunity after Jacob had a couple of hits to kind of break it through there. Was that deflating when Hill was able to get out of that jam?
COACH FOX: Well, a little bit. You're down four and you have the bases loaded and you're thinking to yourself one swing of the bat, ball in the gap and we're right back in the game and we get the momentum in our dugout. They were in that situation several times while we were out here, and it just didn't happen for us.
You've got to tip your hat to their pitchers. Our kids were up there and that's what they're trying to do. But it's a one on one battle. Sometimes the pitcher wins, sometimes the hitter wins. That's probably what will be written about.
We left a lot of people on base out here for three games, but a lot of that has to do with the other team, and we were facing some pretty good arms as well. So it is what it is. It didn't happen for us, and after that we didn't muster up a whole lot.

Q. Jacob, you had those two obviously doubles before that at-bat. Were you a little surprised first of all that they walked a pitch to you even though it was right on right because you'd had success, and if you could take us through the at-bat?
JACOB STALLINGS: No, I wasn't surprised they walked Colin. He's been great for us all year. He had 70-some RBIs, so I knew it was a right on right match-up, so it probably just ended up being the smart thing to do. I got a first pitch slider, and it was the best pitch of the at-bat to hit, and I just missed it. You know, Taylor really kind of bumped up during that at-bat. His stuff was a lot better just that whole at-bat than it has been in my previous times.

Q. Jacob, just talk about your feelings now that the season's over and just how this team is feeling right now.
JACOB STALLINGS: Obviously very disappointed. Any time your season ends you're going to be disappointed. But I just feel for the seniors in there. You know, we weren't a very good team last year, and then to turn around like this and have such a great year with 50 wins. I mean, it's a testament to our leadership.
Obviously, we were happy to get here, but once we were here I think we wish we would have played a little better.

Q. R.C., would you talk about what you think this outing today will do for you moving forward?
R.C. ORLAN: I think ultimately I'll just keep building off this. I wasn't locating my offspeed very well at the beginning of the year, and as the year progressed, I started doing better as I was locating. Today I kept him off balance with a couple of good changeups and a couple of good curveballs here and there to mix up with the fastball. So I'll just keep trying to locate that offspeed stuff, and trying to do the best I can this summer and come back to see what I can do in the fall.

Q. Jacob, you half your team -- as a whole you had trouble against Hill. What made him so effective?
JACOB STALLINGS: He was just able to make the big pitches in the big situations. Taylor is a guy I played with in Chatham, and he's a sinker slider guy. Like I said in those big situations he kind of elevated his game a little bit. Probably hit some balls hard and just couldn't come through with the big hit.

Q. Could you talk about R.C.'s extended stint today? I guess he had been pitching fewer innings per outing than he showed to today.
COACH FOX: Yeah, R.C.'s a great story. He's kind of the epitome of our team. Didn't pitch much last year and can really, really commit himself. If you had seen him work in the fall, he's typical of every player on our team, just improved from last year to this year. That's what you have to have in order for your team to be better from one year to the next.
Watching him out there, that thought crossed my mind. I just remember seeing R.C. in the outfield just doing his throwing and increasing his arm strength, and that's why he's throwing harder this year than he did last year. That didn't surprise me. He's been kind of a situational lefty for us, but the way he was throwing, we were able to keep him out there.
He's in terrific shape, he works hard, and that was really good for us to see. That's the best he's thrown over an extended period of time. To do it out here is pretty special. It will be a great memory for him.

Q. Couple balls flew out of the park early today, different from previous games in this series. Did you anticipate that coming in because of the conditions being different with the wind blowing out, and did you feel like maybe those conditions might have made it more conducive for you guys to be able to come back from that deficit?
COACH FOX: Well, sure. I mean, you're looking at the flags when you're taking batting practice and you're seeing some balls that go out that previously weren't. So you have that in the back of your mind just to get a couple guys on and maybe somebody will get one up in the air for us and get you back in the game. It gives you a little bit better feeling of the wind. The flags are blowing in and you realize you have to get five or six singles or a walk in there.
But the park played differently, and unfortunately it played into their hands. They got a couple of balls that they hit out, and that was the difference.

Q. Congratulations on a good season. You've had teams go further, obviously, the two runners-up. I was curious, you touched on it in your opening, but was this going into this season and what happened, would you say this was maybe even a more enjoyable team to coach or a more satisfying season than those teams that went to the finals in the previous years?
COACH FOX: I've enjoyed almost every one of the teams I've had in North Carolina. I really have. I've been really lucky to be around some really, really good young people. I don't think you build a program or you get out here five out of six years if you don't have really good kids and character on your team. I just don't think it works despite the talent that you have.
So this was a unique year in the regard that we had probably more adversity this year than we've had in some years past. Our players used that adversity as kind of fuel. I thought that was pretty -- I thought that was pretty neat on their part. I really like this team 1 through 35. Some really good leaders, and two of them sitting right here. A couple of seniors in the locker room.
Coaching as you get older -- you hear a lot of coaches say it's all about relationships, and that is so true. As a young coach you don't think of that. You know, you wallow in self pity that you didn't win, you know, and everybody talks about you didn't win it again. The heck with that. I take these memories of these kids. Then my phone's going off like crazy, and I bet a lot of them are former players, and that's what makes it special.
I want these kids to have good memories when they leave. I want them to graduate. I want them to do the right thing when they leave here because the baseball will fade away. I feel comfortable and confident that that's going to happen with probably every one of them. They're going to go on and be good citizens and make a good life for themselves. Ultimately that's what we're supposed to be doing. But we're going to keep trying to come back and win this thing, all that aside.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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