“It’s always fun to have another team come in here and try to beat them,” sophomore catcher Korey Dunbar said. “It just kind of amps up everything.”
It wasn’t a conventional game by any stretch — UNC was leading 9-4 after nine innings and continued to play until the top of the 14th in order to give more pitchers work. Some players came into the game, were removed and came back in; others batted out of order, and the rules, as a whole, were abandoned.
But Fox was able to evaluate his players in game action earlier than usual — and that was the goal. The coach said he was impressed by what he saw from freshmen Adam Pate and Wood Myers who batted first and second, respectively, and showcased some of their agility on the basepaths. He also had the opportunity to see six pitchers — five freshmen, one sophomore — take the hill, and they combined to allow just one earned run.
With the Tar Heels losing six players to the MLB draft, those freshmen could potentially play pivotal roles this season.
UNC might also need veterans to fill new roles.
Sophomore Landon Lassiter, a shortstop by trade and a designated hitter for most of last season, played at third base Monday. It’s the same position No. 6-overall draft pick Colin Moran held for the past three seasons.
“I’ve never played there much in my life,” Lassiter said. “But I’m practicing as hard as I can and just learning the little things.”
Fox said Lassiter is his likely opening-day starter at third, but he wouldn’t commit to any decisions just yet. The action may have come earlier, but the evaluation process is nowhere near complete.
“There’s always competition,” Fox said. “I’m never going to tip my hand in September.”