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Diamond Deacs Rally to Top Jackets; Face Miami on Friday

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The Wake Forest baseball team rattled off four runs in the 9th inning to beat Georgia Tech in pool play at the ACC Tournament

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a slow start offensively, the 12th-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons’ bats awoke in the 9th inning as Wake came roaring back from a 4-1 deficit to knock Georgia Tech off 5-4.

Squaring off against Georgia Tech’s typical Friday starter Xzavion Curry, Wake was unable to even muster a hit for the first five frames. However, the resilient team never panicked and behind a Gavin Sheets two-homer, a Keegan Maronpot rbi-triple off the wall, and an error at second, the Deacs pieced together a four-run ninth inning to escape with a win.

With the loss, Georgia Tech’s season has concluded.

While the game did not have an impact on who would ultimately advance to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament from Pod C, the last-inning rally will hopefully provide some inspiration for the Deacs who now turn their focus to a winner-take-all game Friday morning at 11 A.M. against Miami to see who makes the semifinals.

Miami, who survived a battle of their own against Georgia Tech winning 6-5 in 13 innings on Tuesday, will look to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive against the Diamond Deacs and live to fight another day. Sitting at 30-26 (16-13 ACC) and 47th in the RPI, the Hurricanes almost certainly need to get to the semifinals to have any chance at all of extending their season and realistically need to make the championship game. A win Friday over the Deacs would push their RPI very close to the top 40 in the nation while securing another win against the RPI top 25.

Meanwhile, the Deacs enter Friday’s contest at 39-17 with a regional host spot all but secured for next week’s NCAA Tournament subregionals. Wake is 12th in the RPI, one of six ACC teams in the top 20 in the nation, and has their focus squarely on attempting to snag one of the coveted eight national seeds handed out - which would guarantee the Deacs would host a Super Regionals matchup if Wake advanced through the subregionals. A run to the championship game this weekend would put Wake firmly “on the bubble” for one of the final national seed spots while an ACC Championship would all but guarantee the Deacs one.

Wake will send normal Friday starter Parker Dunshee (9-1. 4.41 ERA) to the mound to square off against left-hander Jeb Bargfeldt from Miami (7-3, 2.20 ERA). Both of these pitchers recorded a win in the regular season series between the two teams in dominant fashion. Dunshee went 7.0 innings, allowing six hits, and one run while striking out nine Hurricanes and allowing only one walk. The next day, Bargfeldt threw 7.0 innings of his own, allowing only three hits and one run while striking out ten Deacs and also permitting only one walk.

The likely game plan for the Deacs will be to have Dunshee go as many innings as possible, preferably another seven or so as he did the first time around against Miami, and then hand the ball over to closer Griffin Roberts who is capable of going two or three innings in relief. While this is an elimination game, manager Tom Walter will also have an eye towards potential weekend games when contemplating bullpen usage and minimizing the number of pitches Roberts throws will certainly be a consideration.

The game will be aired locally on RSN and is on watch ESPN for those unable to watch on television. The winner of the Wake/Miami contest will face the winner of the North Carolina/N.C. State game on Saturday. UNC and State play in the final matchup of pool play at 7 P.M. Friday.

In Thursday’s only winner-take-all game, 9th seeded Duke stunned 4th seeded Virginia 4-3 to secure Pod D’s semifinal spot. Duke went 2-0 in pool play, beating both Clemson and Virginia. Clemson and Virginia will square off in their final game of pool play on Louisville’s campus at noon. This game has no impact on the ACC Tournament, but with both teams coming off a loss to Duke and projected to host a subregional it will be a hotly contested matchup for two teams trying to enter the Tournament on a high note. Duke will play the winner of Friday’s matchup between Louisville and Florida State on Saturday.