"It's hard to think of the positives right now," Fox said. "To get one on the road," he began, then changed his mind.
"That's not good enough."
Another season, one victory in a three-game series on the road against the No. 7 Demon Deacons might have been an accomplishment in itself.
But Sunday, after watching his No. 21 Tar Heels lose a five-run lead in the eighth inning and lose 7-6 at Hooks Stadium, Fox was hard-up for a silver lining.
UNC (22-11, 9-3 in the ACC) began the game in the same fashion as many recent victories. No. 1 and No. 2 hitters Adam Greenberg and Russ Adams reached base, and Chris Maples crushed a longball.
The homer put the Tar Heels up 3-0 and also knocked Wake starter Tim Morley from the game.
In relief, Seth Hill and Adam Hanson were solid over the next six innings for Wake Forest (26-6, 9-3). They allowed only three more runs, one coming on another Maples homer, his 14th of the season.
But the Deacons were unable to gain much ground and trailed 6-1 in the eighth.
Then, as Fox said, "the wheels just came off."
With a single, a walk and another single, the Deacons loaded the bases off UNC starter Daniel Moore, who had allowed just three hits and struck out nine through seven. After Moore walked Nick Blue to make the score 6-3, Fox brought third baseman Maples in to pitch instead of reliever Carter Harrell, who was warming up in the bullpen.
"I didn't even have a clue I was coming in until they brought the ball out there and threw it to me," said Maples, the team's usual closer. "I saw Carter warming up in the bullpen, and I thought (Fox) was going to bring him in."
Facing Jamie D'Antona, who hit a solo shot earlier in the game, Maples threw a wild pitch that scored a run and advanced the other runners to second and third. After D'Antona walked, a Ryan Johnson single brought in two runs.
Fox then opted for Harrell. He struck out the side, but not before giving up a single that scored two more runs.
"I made the wrong call, bottom line," Fox said. "I bring Carter in -- we win the game. And I'll have to live with that."
UNC threatened to tie the game in the ninth against All-American closer Dave Bush. Adams hit a double and advanced to third on a Sean Farrell fly to left-center. But Bush retired two of the next three batters -- including a game-ending strike out of Ryan Blake -- to give Wake the rubber game of the series.
In Saturday's win, Maples was the right call. A night after Wake downed UNC 8-2, holding the Tar Heels to a season low four hits, UNC jumped to an 8-0 lead at Ernie Shore Field.
The Deacons rallied to cut the lead to three by the ninth. Maples, however, struck out Ryan Hubbard with the bases loaded to give UNC its first win in nine games against Wake Forest.
Sunday, that victory was little consolation.
"You got to take it as a positive that we know we can play with anybody in this league," Moore said. "But still, the only thing that counts is 'W's. If you're not winning, people aren't going to say that you're playing well. You've just got to win."
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