“Everybody starts off at five miles, and the loser (of the Fall World Series) jumps to 10," Fox said. “Everything we’ve done on and off the field has some competitive component to it, so guys can knock off or add miles in a variety of ways.”
For example, the player with the worst Halloween costume will have a mile added to their total, while players with more walks than strikeouts for the fall will have miles taken away. The competition has lead up to this weekend’s series, the last chance for on-field competition until fielding work resumes closer to the season.
The offseason has also been a chance for the team to begin to gel together. If players end up with a negative amount of miles to run by “death date,” they can choose to subtract miles away from their teammates.
“You’ve got to be all in on this," Fox said, "or you’re going to be running a long time."
After splitting the first two games of the weekend, the Blue team was safe on Sunday in a 3-1 win to make Navy the big losers, though the competition was stiff. Blue beat Navy, 5-3, on Friday and lost 5-2 to Navy on Saturday, then finished it out in an eight-inning game Sunday afternoon.
Zack Gahagan and Datres were some of the top hitters for the weekend, hitting two home runs each to highlight a solid offensive and defensive performance by the whole team. While most players finished the weekend with multiple hits, the younger pitchers were also given a chance to prove themselves on the mound and succeeded for the most part. On Sunday, first-year pitchers Ben Casparius and Austin Love impressed by allowing a combined one run in a game most thought would be high scoring.
“The starting pitchers were very good early in the game, and the bullpen pitchers were obviously coming in and throwing strikes," Gahagan said. “That’s what we need. We really didn’t have too many dull innings, and that’s how we like to play.”
The Tar Heels have been motivated this offseason by the disappointing season-ending loss to Davidson last year’s NCAA regional round. The player’s performances were proof they’ve been working hard to get rid of the bad taste they’ve had in their mouths since June 4.
“I thought this fall was really good for our hitters and pitchers,” Gahagan said. “Hopefully our momentum leads to the spring.”
Fox is looking forward to seeing his team in real action in the spring to see how they hold up against other teams. If nothing else, his team’s personality will make the upcoming season a fun year on the diamond.
“I like our team,” said Fox. “We’ve got a mixture of serious and funny and everywhere in between.”