Wake Forest Baseball is heating up as the home stretch of the season arises. After being swept by Louisville, the Deacs are putting together a solid month of April. They are 6-2 in April pulling their record to a respectable 21-16 and 9-9 in conference play. This includes two ACC series wins and two lone non-conference wins against North Carolina foes Appalachian State and High Point.
Last week opened with a single Tuesday game against High Point. The game was a test of Wake Forest’s will, as they had to come back from two deficits. Wake Forest was down 3-0 in the bottom of the third when they put up seven runs to blow the game open. The clutch moment was freshman catcher Brendan Tinsman’s grand slam. However, the Deacons gave up that lead after four unanswered runs. The answer was Wake Forest’s six runs in the seventh. Home runs from sophomore Chris Lanzilli and sophomore Michael Ludowig extendes the lead and finished off High Point hopes of a comeback. The game ended with a big Demon Deacon win, 14-9.
The weekend series was against conference opponent Pittsburgh. Wake Forest lost the first game of the series by a score of 8-3. In the loss, a positive was again the bullpen, which pitched four innings of one run ball.
The series schedule was altered because of upcoming bad weather, so Pitt and Wake Forest played a double-header Saturday to finish out the series. In the morning game, Wake Forest had to face another 3-0 deficit. That did not stop the Deacons, as they ended up putting up 20 runs with 11 coming in the last three innings. Ludowig continued his power surge with his second home run of the season and week. He ended his game a triple shy of the cycle. RBI menace sophomore Bobby Seymour had seven RBIs to extend the lead as the ACC RBI leader. Because of the blowout, Head Coach Tom Walter played some players who saw needed action. This resulted in junior Chase Mascolo’s first career home run.
The rubber match of the series saw Wake Forest hold off Pitt’s charge to cement the series win. The Deacs put up six runs in the second inning, but the bats stopped there. Fortunately, the Deacs bullpen did just enough to hold off Pitt in the 7-6 win.
The key to the recent success is the three-headed monster of sluggers at the top of the lineup. Junior Patrick Frick and sophomores Lanzilli and Seymour are stabilizing the batting order, all with batting averages over .340. Frick leads the team with an astonishing .391 average, and Seymour and Lanzili lead the ACC in RBIs. While no other Deacs have 40 hits or more, these three slugger’s have plus 50 hits. The trio goes back-to-back-to-back in the lineup, and it’s becoming a real problem for opposing pitchers. Even if a pitch gets past one, they still must face another top slugger in the nation. The three leaders all balance each other out too. Frick is the contact hitter who consistently gets on base, while Lanzilli and Seymour are the power hitters that drive Frick home.
Frick, Seymour and Lanzilli are anchoring the lineup, but other hitters constantly are having quality weeks. This week was Ludowig’s week where he displayed his surprise power with two home runs. In addition to Ludowig, we have seen unbelievable hitting weeks by sophomore Shane Muntz and freshman Tinsman, who co-leads the team in home runs with nine.
The problem the team must address is starting pitching. In the last six wins and eight games, the starting pitching has only recorded the win twice. This means the Deacs are having to come from behind after subpar performances from their starters. It’s lucky for the starting rotation that the bullpen has been lights out, giving the offense time to come back.
Next week will be huge for the Deacs. Wake Forest is at the Couch the whole week, welcoming Liberty for a Tuesday game and NC State for a weekend series. The NC State series will be a test as they are ranked No. 3 in the nation. Wake Forest cannot repeat history by being swept by another ranked opponent like Louisville and feel confident about their NCAA tournament hopes. We will wait to see if they change their fate and put together a big series win against their North Carolina rival.