Wake Forest baseball is still trying to find its stride as they finish their second week of the season with a clip of 4-4. There have been multiple positive signs that point towards growth; however, they have not played up to their high preseason ranking.
The diamond Deacons’ second week started off with their first away game at Liberty. The Deacs started off strong with two two-out rallies during the first and second inning to take a 2-0 lead. However, sophomore pitcher William Fleming could not get out of the third inning on the mound. The turning point in the third was a passed ball that allowed Liberty senior Ayden Karraker to score all the way from second base. At first, Karraker was called out at home, but video replay illustrated that he beat the tag, pulling Liberty ahead of the Deacs 3-2. After Liberty took the lead, they did not look back, as the Deacs stumbled to a 9-3 loss.
The Deacs then hosted Quinnipiac for a two-game series. During the first game, Quinnipiac scored early and often, putting up four runs in the first inning. The Deacs put up eight batters in the first inning scoring three runs. However, the bats went cold for much of the game, losing 8-6. The surprise of the game was Wake Forest ace Morgan McSweeney’s subpar outing. McSweeney is the lockdown pitcher for the Deacs, but he did not get through the first inning. Expect this to be a fluke for McSweeney, as he is still the Deacons number one choice on the mound. The second game was a completely different story. The Deacs got back on track, steamrolling the Bobcats 15-5. The Deacons hit four home runs and were led by a multi-home run game from sophomore Shane Muntz.
The Deacons then also split a two-game series with the Elon Phoenix. The Deacons dropped the first game 3-6, but they got back on track with a 13-7 win the next day. Sophomore Chris Lanzilli led the team with three RBIs and sophomore starting pitcher Jared Schuster recorded another 11-strikeout game on the way to his second win of the year.
The season has been a short roller coaster for the Deacons. Considering the team is not even in ACC play yet, they must be frustrated with a .500 record. The Deacons will be facing even more challenging opponents as ACC play gets closer. That frustration was illuminated when Head Coach Tom Walter was ejected for arguing balls and strikes during the loss to Quinnipiac.
long with the ejection, Tom Walter has been busy trying to shake up things for the Deacs. Walter changed the lineup multiple times to try and spark the Deacon offense. Sophomore DJ Poteet, senior Patrick Frick and freshman Michael Turconi have all had their crack at the leadoff spot.
There have been multiple positive signs for this Wake Forest baseball team as well. Sophomore Shane Muntz is swinging the hot bat as he is slugging an unbelievable clip of .750. Muntz is in the midst of a breakout season and it is not going unnoticed by Walter.
“From start to finish, he has been leading the team from the plate,” Walter said about Muntz. “Some other guys have been better in spurts, but through the first eight games Shane has had the most quality at bats.”
The sophomore class continues to carry the team as relief pitcher Antonio Menendez has been lights out. Menendez has five appearances recording only one earned run. The sidearmer has been the most reliable arm out of the pen for the Deacs. Walter will be hoping for continued success from Menendez as the opponents and game will only become more competitive.
The season is still early, but the Deacons need to find their rhythm as ACC play is quickly approaching. Eight games should be enough for the Deacons to find their form, so this week is crucial in defining their season. With a quality week, the Deacons could find themselves back in the top-25 conversation.
The Deacons continue their season with a weekend series against Furman. The series is a tour of the Carolinas, as they play in three different Carolina stadiums over the weekend. The first game is this Friday at BB&T Ballpark downtown at 6 p.m. Then, the Deacons travel with the Paladins as they will play a neutral site game in Charlotte before heading to Greenville to play in Furman’s home stadium.