ELON, NC — The last time Wake Forest visited Latham Park — the home of Elon baseball — nearly one year ago to the date, the game proved to be a near loss; Elon knocked in two runs in the bottom of the eighth to threaten the Deacs, but eventually fell 6-4. Just weeks ago, Wake Forest routed the Phoenix 20-0.
But, this time around at Latham, Elon did more than make the Deacs work deep into the game for a victory; they beat them. And, in the process, Wake Forest may have lost more than just the game.
Just outs into the contest, Wake Forest star first baseman Nick Kurtz went down with an injury and was unable to complete the game. His status is currently unknown ahead of this weekend’s critical in-state series against NC State, but he was later seen casually leaning up against the dugout wall conversing with teammates.
The Wake Forest offense, as has been a consistent thread throughout the season, struck first against the Phoenix. With two runners on, Brock Wilken knocked home Lucas Costello on a liner past third, the same play that injured Kurtz. On a fielder’s choice, Danny Corona — Kurtz’s pinch runner — reached home, and Wilken made it three to touch the plate on a fielding error.
Starting pitcher Reed Mascolo, who had yet to register a loss this season, pitched a game wrought with obstacles. In the bottom of the second, Mascolo allowed two early baserunners with no outs. To make matters worse, with two down later in the inning, the junior righty issued a walk to load the bases. In danger of losing the shutout, Mascolo buckled down to get the final out, stranding all runners on base.
Two innings later, Elon struck with two outs, as shortstop Tanner Holliman rocketed a Mascolo pitch to deep center to notch the Phoenix’s first run of the day.
In the fifth, with the Wake Forest bats dead since the first, Elon came within one of the Deacons’ lead behind back-to-back doubles. One batter later, the game was tied. That proved to be all for Mascolo, who was replaced by Derek Crum.
The inning didn’t get better for the Deacs with Crum on the mound. Though the redshirt junior registered the elusive two outs, two additional runs crossed the plate, making for a four-run inning that slingshot Elon into the lead.
After the bats remained lifeless for much of the middle of the game — the Deacs ended the game with 10 strikeouts — Wake Forest finally got on base in the top of the seventh. With two runners on and one out, Wake Forest turned the page to Tommy Hawke and the top of the lineup. But, with a Hawke strikeout and a Costello fly to right, the Deacs were sent packing without a run to show for it, keeping the deficit at two.
In the final two innings, Wake Forest did not register a single hit, allowing Elon to coast to the upset victory.
Following the loss, Wake Forest will return to action Friday afternoon, opening up a critical home series against NC State. First pitch is set for 6pm and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.