Home runs propel Wake Forest to best week of 2021 season 


Freshmen Brock Wilken crushed two home runs in game two to help the Demon Deacons clinch the series against No.17 Florida State

Jake Stuart, Assistant Sports Editor

3/23: Wake Forest 4, Elon 2

In the first of a four-game road trip for Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons prevailed over the Elon Phoenix in a mid-week, out-of-conference matchup. 

After scoring only two runs in their final two games against Georgia Tech, Wake Forest found themselves in dire need of sustained offensive production versus Elon, and the bats came through. Seven different Wake Forest players produced a hit, five of which were for extra bases. 

In the first inning, Lucas Costello crushed a solo home run over the left-field wall to open the scoring for Wake Forest. The freshman from Miami, Fla. reached base four times in the game for the Demon Deacons. With senior Shane Muntz on base in the fourth inning, Adam Cecere hit a home run to extend the Wake Forest lead to 3-0. The home run was the sophomore’s second hit of the season from the DH spot. Sophomore Pierce Bennett added a solo home run in the fifth inning, his 12th of the season. All three Wake Forest home runs were hit to left field.

The Deacons pitched lights out against Elon, once again electing to roll through the bullpen as opposed to using a regular starter. Sophomore Reed Mascolo earned the win on the mound, throwing three scoreless innings and allowing just two hits. Junior Brennan Oxford entered in the fourth inning and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings. The Durham, N.H native pitched two strikeouts and did not allow a hit, lowering his ERA to 1.74 on the season. Relievers Cole McNamee, Crawford Wade, and Hunter Furtado worked 2.2 innings and allowed two runs on two hits. Sophomore Eric Adler picked up his second save of the season, striking out two batters to retire the side in the ninth inning. 

3/26: Wake Forest 1, Florida State 2 

In the first game of the weekend series against ACC opponent No. 17 Florida State, Wake Forest fell by a score of 2-1.

Wake Forest took the early lead in the third inning when junior Michael Turconi, in his first game back from injury, singled up the middle to score Costello. Turconi was hitting .351 on the year entering the game, identical to his batting average in the shortened 2020 season. The consistent infielder paces the Demon Deacons with 15 hits and eight RBIs thus far in 2021. 

Pinch Hitter Elijah Cabell proved key for Florida State in the seventh inning when he hit a single down the third-base line that scored a pair of runs. It was one of only five hits for the nationally ranked Seminoles, but it would be enough to take down Wake Forest. 

Demon Deacon starter Ryan Cusick threw an absolute gem in the loss, firing five scoreless innings, striking out 12 and allowing just two hits. It was the third straight double-digit strikeout game for the talented junior. Junior Brennan Oxford fanned a pair of batters in a scoreless sixth inning to maintain the Wake Forest lead. Freshman Hunter Furtado also threw a pair of strikeouts but struggled in the seventh inning. He allowed two hits and two runs.

Wake Forest coach Tom Walter was not thrilled with the performance, particularly from the bats. “Obviously a disappointing loss,” he said. “Ryan Cusick found a way to give us five shutout innings and Oxford gave us a good sixth, but again we didn’t do enough offensively to win that game.”

3/27: Wake Forest 8, Florida State 7

In front of a crowd of 1500 spectators, Wake Forest bounced back in game two of the series to pick up their second win versus a ranked opponent.

Home runs were once again a theme in the win for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons answered the call from coach Walter to improve their offensive production, putting up a total of 10 runs by the game’s end. 

In the first inning, freshmen phenom Brock Wilken launched a home run to left field that brought home Turconi in response to the  first-inning grand slam for Florida State off the bat of Reese Albert. Wilken was not done for Wake Forest, however. In his next plate appearance, the Valrico, Fla. Native hit a grand slam of his own to bring home Bennett, Costello, and Ludowig. The home run put the Demon Deacons back on top, 6-4. The home run gave Wilken his sixth RBI of the game. Through his first 16 career games, he has hit six home runs, leading all Wake Forest bats. His six homers are the most a Demon Deacon has ever hit in their freshman campaign since Carlos Lopez in 2009. Wilkens needs just 11 more to tie the record. 

Florida State retook the lead thanks to a pair of home runs in the third and fourth innings from Elijah Cabell and Vince Smith. The Smith home run was the fifth of the game for the Seminoles and put them in front, 7-6. 

Wake Forest rallied in the sixth inning with the bases loaded. The Demon Deacons scored a key run following a Lucas Costello single to second base that brought home Muntz and tied the game. The following batter, Pierce Bennett, broke the score open with a sacrifice fly to deep center field making the score 8-7. 

On the mound, William Fleming picked up the win as he pitched six innings, threw 102 pitches, and allowed just three earned runs on six hits and seven strikeouts. Freshman fan favorite Camden Minacci danced his way to two scoreless innings and kept the Demon Deacons in front. Eric Adler saved the day for Wake Forest in the final inning with a pair of crucial strikeouts.  Adler has not allowed a run since Feb. 21, and his seven shutout appearances since have lowered his ERA to 2.08.

Coach Walter was pleased with the team’s performance. “Obviously a huge win for our club,” he said. “A much-needed win. Offensively, the story was Brock Wilken with the two big home runs. It felt like we grinded some at-bats. I thought up and down the lineup our at-bats were better. Just a good all-around team win.”

3/28: Wake Forest 12, Florida State 10 

Wake Forest picked up their biggest win of the season in the rubber match to steal the series on the road against No.17 Florida State. 

In an offensive eruption, the Demon Deacons and Seminoles combined for 22 runs on 25 hits. Bobby Seymour led Wake Forest with three hits and five RBIs, including two key home runs. Additionally, five Wake Forest players (Costello, Bennett, Lanzilli, Ludowig, and Seymour) had multi-hit games in the win. 

The scoring began in the first inning with Florida State scoring a pair of runs. Matheu Nelson hit a home run to center field while Elijah Cabell singled. Quickly, the Deacs found themselves down by a score of 2-0. 

The Demon Deacons responded in the second inning with four runs of their own, two of which came from a Bobby Seymour blast to left field, and one that came from a Chris Lanzilli home run to center field. Bennett would add a single in the second and fourth innings to extend the Wake Forest lead to 5-2. In the fourth inning, Seymour crushed a grand slam, this time to right field. 

Florida State hit three solo home runs in the fourth inning to narrow the Wake Forest lead to 8-5. The Demon Deacons responded though, with two runs on a wild pitch and single in the fifth inning. 

The slugfest continued after a mirage of Florida State runs in the sixth inning put the Seminoles right back in it. Reese Albert launched a three-run home run, and pinch hitter Ryan Romano singled to tie the game up at 10. 

With no shortage of runs in the series, Wake Forest needed to add a couple more to pull off the win. In the eighth inning, the team finally found its mark following a fielding error and wild pitch that scored two Demon Deacons. 

Furtado, Minacci and Adler combined to pitch 3.0 scoreless innings to secure the win for Wake Forest. Furtado picked up his first win of the season and Eric Adler recorded his fourth save. 

On the marquee win, coach Walter said, “Obviously a huge series win. Any time you can win two out of three on the road in this league, that’s huge. Big day for Bobby Seymour today. Cam Minacci and Eric Adler were fantastic. It was a gritty win and I’m really proud of our guys.” 

After the 3-1 week, the Demon Deacons will return home to face Appalachian State on Tuesday before heading to Louisville for a weekend series against another ranked ACC opponent.