Baseball goes 1-2 against No. 5 Louisville

Wake Forest drops two of three against one of the top-tier teams in the country


Junior outfielder Michael Ludowig sliding into third base. He hit a home run against Appalachian State on March 30.

Jake Stuart, Assistant Sports Editor

3/30: Wake Forest 15, Appalachian State 7

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

Coming off a massive series win against No. 17 Florida State, Wake Forest took control of Appalachian State early. The Demon Deacons loaded the bases with no outs courtesy of two walks and a single from senior Chris Lanzilli. In a six-pitch at bat, senior Bobby Seymour walked home the first Wake Forest run. Freshman Brock Wilken grounded into a double play, but Michael Turconi scored and made the score 2-0.

In the second inning, Wake Forest loaded the bases once again with Turconi at the plate. The junior walked on four pitches to extend the Demon Deacon lead to 3-0. One more run would be scored in the inning off a sacrifice fly to left-field from Lanzilli.

The nickname “Rake Forest” has stuck with the Winston-Salem ballclub for years and was in full force against Appalachian State. The Demon Deacons hit three straight home runs in the third inning to extend the lead, and added three more throughout the remainder of the game. Brock Wilken continued his dominance with a solo blast to deep center field. One batter later, junior Michael Ludowig hit his first home run of the season to left-field and made the score 6-0. Shane Muntz homered to left-field as well, his third home run of the season.

The Mountaineers scored in the fourth inning after a single from Kendall McGowan, his second hit of the game. An infield single from center fielder Alex Leshock made the score 7-2.

In the fourth inning, Brock Wilken crushed another solo home run to left- field. Through his first 17 career games, he has hit eight home runs, including two multi-home run games. His eight home runs are the most to start a Demon Deacon career since Carlos Lopez in 2009, and he needs just nine more to tie the freshmen record.

Sophomore Adam Cecere hit his second home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend the Wake Forest lead to 11-2.

The Mountaineers brought the score to 11-5 in the eighth inning following a McGowan three-run home-run. However, the Demon Deacons bats were not finished. Freshman Lucas Costello blasted a grand slam that cleared the bases and made the score 15-5.

On the mound, Wake Forest starter Reed Mascolo pitched a stellar game, going 3.2 innings and allowing just one earned run while pitching five strikeouts. The sophomore worked out of a second-inning jam, getting out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts despite two runners in scoring position.

Following Mascolo’s strong outing, the Demon Deacon bullpen comprised of Cole McNamee, Crawford Wade and Teddy McGraw threw 3.1 scoreless innings.

4/2: Wake Forest 3, Louisville 5

In the first game of the weekend series against ACC opponent No. 5 Louisville, Wake Forest fell 5-3.

Wake Forest took the early lead in the first inning when Seymour, inching closer to 200 career collegiate hits, singled through the right side to score Turconi. Following a slow start to the season, the first baseman has had five hits and eight RBIs in his last four games. He is now just 14 hits away from becoming the 28th player in Wake Forest history to join the 200-hit club.

Louisville answered back in the second inning with two runners on base. Left fielder Trey Leonard singled through the right side and made the score 2-1. In the fourth inning, the Cardinals added two more runs off a one-out single from designated hitter Cameron Masterman. Henry Davis added another run in the fifth inning off a home run to left-field to increase the lead to 5-1.

The Demon Deacons climbed back in the sixth inning with a two-run home run from Muntz. The catcher hit his fifth home run of the season and led all ACC hitters in OPS last season. In addition, the Phoenixville, Pa. native is on a five-game hitting streak following the weekend series against Louisville.

Despite the home run and six different players notching a hit, Wake Forest was unable to score in the final frames and come away with a victory in the series opener.

For Wake Forest, junior pitcher Ryan Cusick had a rough outing, allowing five runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings. The Sudbury, Mass. native added four strikeouts and is now just five away from recording his 150th career strikeout. Cusick was dominant in his prior two starts, throwing for a combined 22 strikeouts without allowing any runs. Following Cusick’s outing, junior Brennan Oxford and freshman Crawford Wade pitched 2.2 shutout innings to keep Wake Forest within striking distance of Louisville. 

Michael Kirian, on the other side of the mound, pitched lights-out for the Cardinals. The highly recruited left-hander went six innings and threw 11 strikeouts while only allowing three runs. He picked up the win and is now 5-0 with just a 2.12 ERA this season for Louisville.

Wake Forest coach Tom Walter was disappointed with the performance.

“Obviously a tough loss,” Walter said. “We just didn’t get enough going offensively and didn’t get a big at-bat when we needed it. We’ll come back tomorrow ready to go.”

4/3: Wake Forest 7, Louisville 9

Wake Forest suffered a tough loss in a slugfest in game two of the series against Louisville. Despite a late comeback, the Demon Deacons were unable to come away with the victory.

In the first inning, Henry Davis hit a solo home run to left-center-field to start the scoring. Right fielder Levi Usher added another run in the second off a single to left-field. Four more Louisville runs were added between the fourth and fifth innings to make the score 6-0. The Cardinals’ bats were in sync and the late scoring was headlined by a home run, a triple and a double.

Wake Forest finally got on the board in the sixth inning off a solo home run from Lucas Costello, his third of the season. The Miami, Fla. native leads all Demon Deacon freshmen with a .302 batting average.

Louisville answered back in the sixth inning with a double from Christian Knapczyk to extend the lead to 7-1.

The Demon Deacons stormed back in the eighth inning with the bats in full force. The bases were loaded, and Seymour was hit by a pitch, which brought in the second Wake Forest run. Lanzilli picked up his 20th hit of the season, a single to shortstop that scored another run. With the bases still loaded, Muntz crushed a grand slam down the left-field line to tie the game at seven. Muntz hit his second grand slam of the season and has hit three home runs in as many games.

The six runs scored in the eighth inning were not enough for the Demon Deacons. The Cardinals regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning off a single from Lucas Dunn that scored two runs. Wilken singled in the ninth inning, to bring up Seymour with a chance to tie the game. The first baseman grounded out, and Wake Forest was put away.

On the mound, Wake Forest struggled once again, allowing nine runs on 12 hits. William Fleming lasted five innings and allowed 10 hits and six runs before being replaced by the freshman duo of Hunter Furtado and Camden Minacci. The two allowed three more runs on two hits.

4/4: Wake Forest 6, Louisville 3

Wake Forest picked up a huge road win against Louisville in game three to salvage the weekend series.

The Demon Deacons, backed by 10 hits and six runs, held control of the game throughout.

A pair of home runs started the scoring for Wake Forest. In the third inning, Adam Cecere hit a solo home run to right-field. In the fifth inning, Lanzilli launched a solo home run to left-center-field and the score was quickly 2-0.

The scoring continued in the fifth inning, when a Costello single brought home junior Brendan Tinsman. The talented catcher from Cape Elizabeth, Maine had two hits in his first game back from COVID-19 restrictions. He hit .291 last season and looks to bring depth and sustained offensive production for the Demon Deacons in the remaining games of 2021.

In the eighth inning, Wilken homered to right-center and made the score 5-0. The third baseman needs ten more home runs to set the freshman season record held by Jamie D’ Antona since 2001.

The Cardinals scored two runs of their own in the eighth inning off a single from Davis and a sacrifice fly from Masterman to cut the Demon Deacon lead to 5-2.

Wake Forest scored an insurance run in the ninth inning off a fielder’s choice from Costello that brought home Tinsman. Louisville scored one more run in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Eric Adler picked up his fifth save of the season.

The win was headlined by the incredible pitching from freshman Rhett Lowder. The right-hander picked up his first victory as he pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out seven and allowing only three hits.

Coach Walter was impressed and relieved by the win in the final game of the weekend series.

“Obviously a huge win, and a one we really had to have,” he said “Just really proud of Rhett Lowder and the outing he had. Offensively, I thought Adam Cecere had a great day and Brock Wilken did too with that huge home run.”

After the 2-2 week, the Demon Deacons will continue their stretch on the road with a mid-week battle against Liberty before heading home for a weekend series against No. 23 Virginia Tech.