TALLAHASSEE, FL – For a Sunday game between a No. 1 team in the nation — who had just won the ACC regular-season championship a day prior — and a team relegated from the conference tournament, it was uncharacteristically chippy. Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter was ejected, words were shared by players from both teams and a walk-off 4-3 victory for Florida State ended with additional barbs.
“It was surprising,” Walter said after the game. “I’m disappointed that we got caught up in that. We shouldn’t have. We’re on our guys all the time about staying on us. The fact that we let that affect us is disappointing.”
“That’s what happens when you come in and you’re the No. 1 team in the country,” Wilken noted. “Teams just want to beat you. It’s their World Series. So, we got to know how to handle that better in the future. And we will.”
In the early goings, the game was all Wake Forest. After waiting until the sixth inning for the bats to come to life Saturday, the Deacs struck early. With two outs in the first, Wilken knocked a deep fly to center that kept on going — 424 feet over the center-field wall — for a two-run home run.
But, the initial lead was a false flag hidden by exceptional pitching. After two hits in the first inning, Wake Forest only hit four over the rest of the game.
Twice in the sixth, the Deacs loaded the bases — primarily with walks — and only added one run to the scoreline on a wild pitch. Wake Forest was 1-9 with runners on base and 0-6 when in scoring position.
“We didn’t score enough runs today,” Walter said. “I’ll take our chances on a Sunday game where we give up four. I’ll take our chances every weekend…I just didn’t feel like we grinded at bats.”
Filling in as the Sunday starter, Seth Keener put together a spectacular outing, going five hitless innings while striking out seven. Derek Crum followed with a scoreless sixth.
But, after Walter’s first ejection of the season, the Deacs turned to Will Ray on the mound for the seventh. Two-straight walks later, it was Cole Roland. Three swings tied the game — a near home run turned double plated the first, a single made run No. 2 and a sac-fly to center evened the score at three.
“Long story short, too many free passes,” Walter said.
Wake Forest ended the game with six walks from the mound.
With a tie game entering the ninth, the Deacs couldn’t bring Danny Corona home after a leadoff double. And Florida State capitalized with a walkoff in the home-half — a potential third out just steps too far for long-ranging center fielder Tommy Hawke.
“We’ll move on, we’ll turn the page quickly,” Walter said. “We’ll be ready to go on Tuesday…a tough game for us. We’ll be a little short staffed, and we’re going to have to find a way to score runs.”
Tuesday marks the final midweek game of the season for Wake Forest — away at UNC Wilmington. The short turnaround gets even shorter; Virginia Tech comes to town for a closing ACC series starting Thursday night.