Streaking Horvath packing a punch for North Carolina
Former Rochester Century baseball standout Mac Horvath is in his second season playing for baseball power University of North Carolina. Horvath has been on a recent hitting tear.
Mac Horvath is in his second season at the University of North Carolina where he plays baseball. The former Rochester Century star, who spent his senior year of high school at IMG Academy in Florida, has started every game this season at third base for the Tar Heels. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Horvath is batting .259 with 11 doubles, 15 home runs and 44 RBIs. Horvath has been blistering recently with seven home runs in his last 11 games.
North Carolina, which plays in the vaunted ACC, is 12-15 in the conference and 31-19 overall as of Thursday. Horvath was a part-time starter last year when he batted .227, with five home runs and 22 RBIs.
POST BULLETIN: You’ve been on a home-run tear the last few weeks, explain how that’s happened.
HORVATH: Early in the season, I felt like I was seeing the ball well and drawing walks, but I wasn’t getting good swings on good pitches. But I looked at some videos of myself and saw that my hands were lower than normal. I went to our hitting coach, and he agreed. Now, I’ve got my hands moved back up and I’ve closed off my stance a little bit more. Those two things have allowed me to get into a better position to fire from. There has been a good payoff from that. It always feels good to square up a baseball, hit some home runs, drive in some runs, and your team win games.
PB: What part of your game has pleased you most this season?
HORVATH: I think I’ve been playing pretty good defense this year and I’ve been on the base paths, stealing a lot more. I’ve kind of worked my way up with the steals, getting the green light once I showed I was capable of stealing. I’m pretty much always given (the green light) now.
PB: What part of your game are you still looking to completely click before this season is out?
HORVATH: Hitting-wise, I’m just trying to continue what I’ve been doing lately and to stay as consistent as I can through the remainder of the season and have that fall into next season. I just want to be consistent in everything that I do.
PB: You have one grand slam this season. What is on your mind when you come up to the plate with the bases loaded?
HORVATH: There is a little bit of a different feeling when the bases are loaded. But I like it. I always feel confident when I’m at the plate. But when the bases are loaded there is even more confidence that I’m going to really barrel up the ball. That’s what you want, to be a guy in that spot. When it happens, you’re ready, you’ve been waiting for it.
PB: Last year you played in 46 of your team’s 55 games. How much of a learning experience was that first year?
HORVATH: It was a good learning experience. That first year of college baseball is a lot different than high school ball. The game is a lot faster and you’ve got to be able to adapt to it. The pitching iis better, the fielding is better. But getting that experience under your belt that you can compete at this level, it makes you a lot more comfortable.
PB: What was the toughest part of the transition from high school player to Division I college player?
HORVATH: Getting used to the pitching in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) was the toughest part. There are a lot of great pitchers in our league, with (seemingly) everyone throwing 94 mph or harder. Every team has guys who can throw really hard and have good sliders, things that you don’t see every day in high school.
PB: You attended IMG Academy in Florida your senior year of high school. How difficult a decision was it to make that move?
HORVATH: It was a hard decision to make. I wanted to stay home and be with my friends and finish out my last year at Century. But not being able to play as much (in Minnesota, due to the weather), and knowing that I was coming to the University of North Carolina, I felt it was the best decision to make so I could practice year-round. It was the best way to prepare me for the next level. Getting consistent reps every day, that’s how you get better. When I left IMG, I felt like I was a completely better player.
PB: Do you regard the University of North Carolina as a special place, as so many do?
HORVATH: It is a special place. There’s a lot of history here. The North Carolina baseball program has been good for a long time. We’ve had a bunch of ex-players come back, watch games and practices here, and come speak to us. These are guys who’ve had long pro careers.
PB: You went on a hitting tear to close last season. What allowed that?
HORVATH: It was the same thing last year as this year. I made some adjustments mid-season. Plus, I was getting more used to the pitching at this level.
PB: You attend the same college as Lourdes graduate and North Carolina basketball star Alyssa Ustby. How often do you connect with her?
HORVATH: A couple of times I’ve run into her. I remember seeing her once as I was going to my Portuguese class. We don’t really hang out, but I’ve gone to some of her games. One time our coach, (Scott) Forbes, saw that Alyssa was also from Rochester and he said to me, ‘Are you from the same place?’ I told him that we are.
PB: When do you anticipate making yourself eligible for the Major League Baseball Draft?
HORVATH: The goal is to one day get drafted and all that. But right now, I feel like I’ll go play summer ball (in the Cape Cod League) and come back for another season at North Carolina next year. Then, after my junior season, I’ll see what happens. But I’m going to just enjoy everything.
PB: How would you describe this year’s North Carolina team?
HORVATH: It is a special team. We had a good amount of guys who came back for their senior year and that helps our team out a ton. Now, we’ve got to continue to mold our younger guys. But it’s fun practicing every single day with these guys, hanging out and watching movies together. We know how good we are, though maybe some others don’t. If we play to our capabilities, we can make a long run in the playoffs.