The Wake Forest baseball team picked up their third straight ACC series win to start the year (first time since 2002) after taking two out of three from Georgia Tech.
In what could have been a bad weekend after a blown game Friday afternoon, the resilient squad relied upon hot hitting, impressive plate discipline, and of course, the long ball to get consecutive wins on Saturday and Sunday.
There was little doubt coming into the weekend that these two teams would combine for a lot of runs based on the explosive offenses of both teams, but it was a much more balanced series overall than I thought it would be. For much of the weekend errors and wild pitches were more of a culprit for runs instead of the high-octane power baseball from each team.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still a lot of runs, but the pitching was better than I thought it would be.
Wake Forest improves to 18-7 (6-3 in the ACC) with the series win, while Georgia Tech falls to 13-9 (3-6) on the season.
The Deacs now hit the road for 8 out of their next 9 games, taking on Appalachian State (10-14) in Boone on Tuesday, before heading to Coral Gables to play the Miami Hurricanes (11-13) on Friday-Sunday.
Friday: Georgia Tech 7 - Wake Forest 6 (11)
It very well could have been a sweep for the Diamond Deacs this weekend, as they were up 6-3 over Georgia Tech on Friday with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th before disaster struck.
Catcher Ben Breazeale dropped a popup in foul territory that would have won the game, and then consecutive errors on the Wake Forest infield, followed by a wild pitch by closer Griffen Roberts allowed the Yellow Jackets to tie the game at 6.
An 11th inning home run by Ryan Peurifoy gave Georgia Tech a 7-6 lead they would not relinquish, and go up 1-0 in the series. John McCarren wound up getting the loss for Wake after pitching the final two innings and surrendering the game winning home run.
The blown 9th inning took the win away from Parker Dunshee, who was looking to get to 5-1 after a mercurial performance overall. Although he struck out 12 Yellow Jackets, he struggled with his control throughout much of his appearance. While the bottom line box score was good, there are a lot of areas that he can continue to fine-tune as the season goes on.
Saturday: Wake Forest 17 - Georgia Tech 8
After the tough loss on Friday, Saturday provided a huge opportunity for the Diamond Deacs to bounce back, and that's exactly what they did, scoring 6 runs in the first two innings en route to an impressive 17-8 victory.
Donnie Sellers threw 6 innings of two-run ball, before turning it over to the bullpen to finish the job. He improved to 3-1 on the year, striking out 5 and walking just one Georgia Tech batter.
First baseman Gavin Sheets drove in four runs on the day, finishing 3-4, including his 8th home run of the season. Jake Mueller and Keegan Maronpot joined Sheets in the home run column, driving in their first, and fifth home runs of the year respectively.
Mueller drove in 4 runs in total, and also took three walks to provide a man on base for the guys batting behind him.
Overall the Deacs scored 14 runs on 13 hits, taking 10 walks on the day.
Sunday: Wake Forest 8 - Georgia Tech 4
Georgia Tech struck first in the rubber match, plating a run in the second inning on a Chase Murray RBI double following a fielding error by Wake Forest shortstop Bruce Steel.
Ben Breazeale tied the game in the bottom of the third, before Georgia Tech came right back and reclaimed the lead 2-1 in the top of the fourth. A three run bottom of the fourth, including RBIs by Stuart Fairchild and Gavin Sheets gave the Deacs a 4-2 lead that they would not give up.
Griffen Roberts got another chance to close out the Yellow Jackets, entering the game in the bottom of the eighth with the Deacs up 7-3. He worked himself into a bit of trouble before getting out of a bases loaded jam, but not before allowing a run to bring the score back within three.
Johnny Aiello got that run right back with a solo shot in the bottom half of the eighth. A 1-2-3 inning for Roberts in the 9th shut the door on the Yellow Jackets and gave the Deacs the series win.
Connor Johnstone improved to 3-0 on the year with the victory, striking out a career high 7 batters.
- Leadoff batter Jonathon Pryor has now reached base safely in 33 consecutive games, dating back to last year. He is batting .402 on the year, with a .496 OBP.
- Cleanup hitter Gavin Sheets regained his lead in the NCAA RBI category, driving in 7 this weekend to go up by four over second place.
- The weekend starting pitchers of Parker Dunshee, Donnie Sellers, and Connor Johnstone are a combined 10-2 on the year, allowing 49 runs in 108.2 innings of work so far. They have also combined for 103 K’s, compared to just 33 walks for a 3.12 (K: BB) ratio.
- On Sunday, Johnny Aiello hit his 9th home run of the year, taking him one behind the national lead individually. The team has hit 45 home runs so far this year to lead the nation, including 5 this weekend.
- The 18-7 record is the best start for the Deacs since 2006.