Baseball looks for spark following winless week

Wake Forest was outscored 21-42 on the week and dropped to 5-12 against ACC opponents


Senior first baseman Bobby Seymour hit two home runs in one game, including a 490 ft bomb, for the third time in his career on April 11.

Jake Stuart, Assistant Sports Editor

4/7: Wake Forest 4, Liberty 8

In a mid-week out-of-conference matchup, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons fell to the Liberty Flames in Lynchburg, Va., 8-4.

Following a 5-3 stretch that included a win against No.5 Louisville — along with wins against three straight out-of-conference opponents — Wake Forest set the tone against Liberty early. In the first inning, junior Bobby Seymour launched a ground-rule double that scored freshman Lucas Costello. The double was one of six off the bats of Wake Forest —  Seymour’s two-hit performance moved him even closer to the 200-hit mark. The St. John, Ind. native is just nine hits away from becoming the 28th Demon Deacon to reach the milestone.

The Flames answered back in a hurry with five runs of their own across the first two innings. Triples from Will Wagner and Gray Betts contributed to the dominant 5-1 start from Liberty. The mid-week opponent came into the game atop the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 17-8 record.

In the third inning, senior Chris Lanzilli singled to left-field to cut the deficit to 5-2. Through his three full seasons in Winston-Salem, the outfielder hit .314 with 31 home runs and 112 RBIs. This week showed more of the same, as he picked up five hits and two RBIs.

Liberty extended their lead in the fourth and six innings with a double and sacrifice fly off the bats of Wagner and Locklear that scored a total of three runs. The Flames had eight hits in the game, two fewer than the Demon Deacons, yet produced twice as many runs.

Wake Forest climbed back in the eighth inning with a double from sophomore Adam Cecere that scored two runs. The former high school quarterback and three-sport star will be the first baseman of the future for the Demon Deacons and has looked promising as of late.

In the loss, Costello, Seymour and Lanzilli all produced multi-hit games, they accounted for half of the Demon Deacons extra-base hits.

On the mound, senior Cole McNamee got the start for the Demon Deacons for the first time since his freshman season. McNamee has seen action as both a pitcher and designated hitter. The versatile senior had a tough outing as he went 1.1 innings and allowed four runs on four hits. Junior Brennan Oxford and freshman Crawford Wade each allowed two runs, but Teddy McGraw, Camden Minacci and Hunter Furtado combined to pitch four scoreless innings.

Wake Forest coach Tom Walter was not thrilled with the performance, particularly from the pitching staff:

“Obviously this was a disappointing loss, we just weren’t good enough on the mound today. We had seven situational at-bats and only executed on one of them. We were just never able to grab momentum without any good innings on the mound.”

4/9: Wake Forest 4, Virginia Tech 8

In the first ACC home game in 20 days for Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons fell against No.13 Virginia Tech, 8-4.

Wake Forest fell into an early deficit following an error from Michael Turconi in the second inning that led to three runs. Errors have plagued the Demon Deacons all season long and ended up costing the team again against the Hokies.

Lanzilli singled in the third inning to bring home Michael Turconi and the score to 3-1. Another Wake Forest error in the sixth inning — this time by Lanzilli — provided Virginia Tech with two more runs. The Demon Deacons had three errors in the game and have been hurt by their 0.961 fielding percentage (12th in the ACC).

Wake Forest rallied in the sixth inning amidst weather concerns in the Winston-Salem area. The Demon Deacons loaded the bases with no outs and Turconi at the plate. The junior sacrificed his body and was hit by a pitch to bring in the second run. Freshman Brock Wilken singled and Seymour hit a sacrifice fly, and the score was brought to 5-4. The third baseman has been on a tear as of late, currently on a ten-game hitting streak. Moreover, Wilken is ranked third in the ACC in home runs and in the top-ten for runs batted in. Momentum was all in the favor of the Demon Deacons before lightning caused a delay of play.

Despite two runners on base when the action returned over an hour later, Wake Forest was unable to score a run. Virginia Tech extended their lead as they added a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth innings, Gavin Cross hit a home run to right-center, and Dayne Leonard hit into a fielder’s choice that pushed the score to 8-4.

In the loss, six Wake Forest players finished with a hit, including a pair from Wilken and Lanzilli.

Junior Ryan Cusick pitched well, with nine strikeouts and just one earned run allowed through 5.1 innings of work. The highly-touted prospect has thrown at least nine strikeouts in five of his six starts while going at least 5.1 innings in all of his appearances. He also threw for his 150th career strikeout against the Hokies and set a new career-high for seasonal strikeouts following the game.

Oxford and freshman Reed Mascolo combined for four strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. Mascolo — whose older brother Chase played baseball at Wake Forest and graduated in 2020 —  has only allowed three earned runs through seven appearances with a 1.88 seasonal ERA.

Coach Walter was still in search of a complete performance following the game:

“I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s just another disappointing loss, Walter said. Not enough clutch at-bats. We had our guys up, bases loaded in a 5-3 game with Seymour, Lanzilli, and Muntz against a pitcher that should be a good matchup, and we were only able to come away with one run.”

4/10: Wake Forest 4, Virginia Tech 16

In game two against ACC opponent  Virginia Tech, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons could not sustain offensive production and slow down the bats of the Hokies.

In the first inning, freshman Brock Wilken doubled to right-center field to bring home junior Michael Turconi and  begin the scoring. From there on, it was all Virginia Tech.

The Hokies scored 12 unanswered runs across three innings to bury the Demon Deacons. The surge was headlined by a total of five home runs that resulted in eight RBIs, including two off the bat of Kevin Madden. Five Virginia Tech players finished with multi-hit games as the team tallied 15 total hits.

In the seventh inning, the Wake Forest bats finally struck pay dirt off a two-run home run from junior Brendan Tinsman. The catcher hit his first home run of the season and has a hit in each of his five games back in action following injury and COVID-19 protocol. He has provided depth at the catcher position and much-needed rest for Shane Muntz, who has started behind the plate for nearly the entirety of the season.

Three batters later, Costello singled to left-field and brought home another Wake Forest run. The consistent leadoff hitter now has a hit in 12 straight games for the Demon Deacons, and has played a key role down the stretch in many contests.

In the eighth inning, Madden once again hit a home run for Virginia Tech — this time a grand slam.

On the mound, senior William Fleming had a tough day, allowing eight runs across five innings despite pitching three scoreless innings to open the game. McNamee and Wade allowed six runs in the 2.1 innings that followed. Freshman duo Seth Keener and Reese Robinson pitched 1.2 scoreless innings of relief to close the game for the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest was held to just four hits and committed three costly fielding errors. The Demon Deacons are last in the ACC with a .232 batting average on the season, but hit .257 during the 5-3 stretch prior to this week.

Walter remarked: “Not a good performance in any facet, really. When you get down six or seven runs in our league it’s hard to justify throwing your better bullpen guys when you need them tomorrow. We need to play better.”

4/11: Wake Forest 9, Virginia Tech 10

In a slugfest, Wake Forest narrowly fell to No. 13 Virginia Tech, despite a late-inning surge from the Demon Deacons.

In the first inning, Virginia Tech scored two runs off a home run from Nick Biddison and a groundout from TJ Rumfield.

Costello answered with a solo home run to right-field to open the scoring for Wake Forest, his fourth of the season. The Miami, Fla. native has found success in just his first season with the Demon Deacons, posting a .289 average and pacing the team with 26 hits. Costello and Wilken aim to be a dynamic part of the Wake Forest lineup for years to come.

In the second inning, McNamee singled to bring home Lanzilli and make the score 2-1. The hit was key for Mcnamee, who had not had a base hit in his three prior starts.

Virginia Tech responded in the fourth inning with a three-run home run from Tanner Schobel.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Shane Muntz hit his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to left field that cut the deficit to 5-3.

The Hokies extended their lead as they added three runs in the fifth inning off a single and sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Seymour launched a home run to center- field that brought home Wilken. The home run was a 490-foot rocket that left the Couch in a hurry, and made the score 8-5. But Seymour was not yet done, however.

Following a sixth-inning home run from Virginia Tech that scored two, Wake Forest scored another run off a Turconi single to left-field. In his next at-bat in the seventh inning, Seymour crushed another ball out of the stadium to make the score 10-7.

The Demon Deacons continued the rally in the ninth inning after a two-run home run from Wilken. He is on pace to set the freshman home run record, and his 10 home runs are the most to start a Demon Deacon career since Carlos Lopez in 2009. Despite the late-game rally, Wake Forest was unable to find one more run and tie the game.

Wake Forest hit five home runs in the game, and the long ball has continued to be a factor, just as it had all season. The Demon Deacons lead the ACC in home runs per game, with 37 across 25 games (1.48 per game).

“We had it where we wanted it there in the ninth inning with the right guys up, somebody needs to come through there and put some pressure on them, Walter said. Virginia Tech is a good fastball hitting team and we gave up 90% of our hits over the weekend on fastballs. As we saw from Virginia Tech in the series, the difference was that their pitchers pitched backwards and ours didn’t.”

After the 0-4 week, the Demon Deacons will hit the road for eight straight games, including ACC series against Duke and Clemson. The mid-week series will feature Appalachian State and Davidson as Wake Forest looks to get back on track.