The Wake Forest bats came alive this weekend, propelling the Demon Deacons to a series win over the Southern California Trojans. Gavin Sheets was the series MVP, and started the weekend on Friday with 3 home runs and 9 RBI’s en route to a 15-5 win.
Saturday went the way of the Trojans, as they bounced back with a 15-9 victory over the Deacs.
In the rubber match on Sunday, USC started off hot again, but the red hot bats of Sheets and Co. came alive again for Wake to win the series 18-5.
The 42 runs scored this weekend were the most in a series for Wake Forest since a 2002 three-game series again Maryland (52).
Sheets finished the series going 10-13 (.769) with three home runs, 14 RBIs, and two doubles. Needless to say, he is fitting into the cleanup spot pretty well, and with Pryor, Harvey, and Fairchild batting in front of him, there are plenty of men on base when he comes up to the plate.
Jonathan Pryor had a solid weekend of his own, pushing his average to .486 on the year out of the leadoff spot, with 5 doubles, and 2 home runs.
A big change that I noticed from watching on Friday and Saturday is the plate discipline of the team, especially in the first part of the order. Harvey has already taken 6 walks, while Keegan Maronpot and Jake Mueller have 5 and 4 respectively. Maronpot is the only player in double-digit strikeouts so far as well, which is also very helpful.
Pitching continues to be something that will need to be monitored as the season goes along. Obviously when there are 42 runs scored in three games there isn’t a huge need for lockdown pitching performances, but the 9 runs on Saturday should have been enough to get the job done.
Parker Dunshee had a decent outing on Friday, but Connor Johnstone struggled with his control on Saturday, a week after winning ACC Pitcher of the Week for his performance in the season-opener against Nicholls State.
The best stat for Dunshee so far is that he has 14 K’s to just 1 BB, but has allowed a .375 batting average through 10 2⁄3 innings. I assume he will settle down as the year goes along.
If Johnstone can find the plate then he will be alright, as he has allowed a paltry .135 batting average so far this season, but his 5 walks and 4 hit batters is problematic.
Donnie Sellers was the Sunday starter and he got his first win of the season after a shaky start. It’s still early in the season, but I think Coach Walter has a good weekend staff in these three guys.
Another name to watch is John McCarren, who came in relief on Friday and had some really good stuff. In an ideal world he can serve as a middle reliever or set-up man to get to Chris Farish to close things out.
Wake continues to struggle with defense out of the shortstop position, as freshman Patrick Frick has already accrued 6 errors on the year. The good news is that Johnny Aiello has settled down well at 3B, so hopefully Frick will adjust to the speed of ball of the bat in college and calm down in the middle of the field.
The Demon Deacons will continue their 9 game home-stand tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) vs Davidson at 6 PM. The Wildcats come into the game 5-2 with a win over a variety of teams. Their losses came to Georgetown (6-5 in the season opener), and 12-11 to High Point last Tuesday. This should be a good midweek test for our pitching staff.
On a final note, I made it out to the game on Saturday and the new practice facility is nothing short of remarkable. There is plenty of room for the team to stretch and workout in-between innings, which adds a new element to the game this season. All of that work adds up over time, and also keeps the team loose if they are needed.
Great job by the Wake Forest Administration, as well as David Couch for the donations needed to make that happen.