Demon Deacons finish 2-2 rollercoaster week

In the first two games, Wake Forest’s run differential was +23, it was -13 in their next two


On April 16, ace pitcher and junior Ryan Cusick threw seven scoreless innings and recorded 11 strikeouts, picking up his second win of the season.

Jake Stuart, Assistant Sports Editor

4/13: Wake Forest 12, App State 0

In a midweek out-of-conference matchup, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons crushed the Appalachian State Mountaineers in Boone, N.C., 12-0.

Following a 0-4 stretch that included losses against out of conference opponent Liberty and ACC foe No. 13 Virginia Tech, Wake Forest found itself in a must-win situation. The Deacons controlled the game against the Mountaineers from start to finish with both gloves and bats. In the second inning, senior first baseman Bobby Seymour hit a solo home run to center-field to open the scoring. The nation’s 2019 RBI leader hit two home runs in his previous game and continued on his tear against Appalachian State. One inning later, junior Brendan Tinsman hit another solo home run, this one to right-field. It was one of two hits in the game for the junior, and his second home run since returning back from COVID-19 restrictions and injury. But, the Demon Deacons were nowhere near done.

In a fifth inning offensive explosion, Wake Forest added seven runs and further rattled the Appalachian State pitching staff. The Demon Deacons loaded the bases with one out and scored three runs via a trio of walks from junior Michael Turconi, freshman Brock Wilken and Seymour. Senior Chris Lanzilli then hit a grand slam to left-field and extended the Wake Forest lead to 9-0. It was the outfielder’s sixth home run and first grand slam of the season. The grand slam was the 37th home run of his career. He now has the 10th-most in Demon Deacon history.

The seventh inning was big for Wake Forest, as three more runs were added to the blowout lead. Hits from Seymour and Freshman Lucas Costello, among others, brought the score to 12-0.

In the win, seven Wake Forest players had a hit and the Demon Deacons had a total of 17 baserunners. Freshman Jake Reinish picked up his first collegiate hit for Wake Forest, while Wilken extended his hitting streak to 11.

On the mound, the Demon Deacons pitched flawlessly, allowing just two hits. Sophomore Reed Mascolo got the start for Wake Forest and picked up his second win of the season, throwing five scoreless innings and allowing just two hits. The Seton Hall transfer has gone 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA this season.

The bullpen pitched four hitless innings of relief and combined to throw six strikeouts to close out the win. It was the second time all season that the Demon Deacons shut out their opponents.

Wake Forest Head Coach Tom Walter was thrilled with the all-around team performance in the win.

“Obviously a good team win there. Reed Mascolo was really sharp, it was the best he’s thrown all year,” Walter  said. “Bobby Seymour continues to swing the bat well — he’s had some timely hits and took advantage of some walks. Good all-around win that we needed.”

4/16: Wake Forest 11, Duke 0

In another offensive explosion and shutout, the Demon Deacons were victorious against Duke, 11-0.

After a gridlocked five innings to open the game, Costello scored the first run in the sixth inning for the Demon Deacons after an error from Blue Devils’ first baseman Chad Knight. Senior Shane Muntz continued the scoring when he launched a home run with two runners on base to extend the lead to 4-0. The catcher led all ACC hitters in OPS last season, and picked up his seventh home run this season.

The seventh inning was another big inning for Wake Forest when, following two hits and an intentional walk, the Demon Deacons struck paydirt. Seymour stepped up to the plate and hit yet another grand slam. The blast was his fourth home run in three games and his seventh of the season.

In the ninth inning, the Demon Deacons once again rallied and tacked three more runs onto the lead. Lanzilli doubled to left-field to bring home Wilken and score the first run of the inning. He finished with two hits and two RBIs in the contest. Tinsman grounded out but sent home another Wake Forest run. Costello put one more run on the board with a single to bring home Muntz and make the score 11-0. The talented freshman from Miami, Fla., extended his hitting streak to 14 games, including six hits across the last two games.

In the win, six different Demon Deacon starters produced a hit, including a pair from Seymour, Lanzilli and Bennett. Costello had three of his own.

On the mound, junior Ryan Cusick pitched an absolute gem and picked up the win, allowing just four hits across seven scoreless innings of work. Additionally, the highly-touted prospect threw 11 strikeouts. Junior Brennen Oxford and freshman Teddy McGraw pitched the final two innings without making any mistakes. For the Wake Forest pitching staff, the team pitched back-to-back shutouts for the first time since April 12, 2018 versus Boston College.

Following another shutout victory, Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter was again impressed.

“Ryan Cusick was awesome tonight. We knew from the first inning he was throwing his curveball for strikes, and he actually got his changeup going today,” Walter said. “Offensively, we didn’t do a whole lot early, but got big home runs from Shane Muntz and Bobby Seymour, so we did just enough. Always good to get a Friday win without burning your best bullpen pieces, it puts us in good shape for the rest of the series for sure.”

4/17: Wake Forest 2, Duke 11

In game two against ACC opponent Duke, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons could not match the offensive production they displayed in their previous two games.

In the first inning, Duke opened the scoring with a single from Michael Rothenberg that brought home Joey Loperfido. One batter later, Chase Cheek doubled to extend the Blue Devil lead to 2-0. Duke added a pair of runs in the second inning off a double from Loperfido. He finished with four hits in the game.

Wake Forest scored a run of their own in the third inning via a single from Wilken that scored Tinsman and narrowed the gap to 4-1. The phenomenal freshman is ranked third in the ACC in home runs and No. 11 in the conference for runs batted in.

In the fourth inning, Duke extended their lead off a pair of explosive extra-base hits. RJ Schreck doubled and Rothenberg launched a three-run home run to right-field to extend the lead to 8-1. The catcher had a monster day with three hits, four RBIs and two runs scored.

In the seventh inning with the count full, senior Michael Turconi blasted a solo home run, his first of the season, to cut the deficit to 8-2.

A Blue Devil home run in the seventh inning made the final score 11-2.

On the mound, senior William Fleming had another tough outing for Wake Forest. He lasted just four innings and allowed eight runs on 13 hits. Fleming is in search of a spark after going 0-2 and allowing 20 earned runs and 32 hits in just 14 innings of work during his three April starts.

Coach Walter expressed his disappointment in the blowout loss.

“We gave up 10 runs today with two outs. We’re one pitch away from getting into the dugout several times along the way, and just weren’t able to make that pitch,” Walter said. “We’re right where they are in the standings and battling to get in the conference tournament, so tomorrow’s a must-win game.”

4/18: Wake Forest 7, Duke 11

In a must-win game, Wake Forest lost a slugfest, despite yet another tremendous fifth-inning rally.

Duke opened the contest with momentum from the day prior. In the first inning, the Blue Devils mustered four runs through a pair of RBI singles and groundouts. One inning later, designated hitter Chad Knight hit a solo home run to left-field that extended the early lead to 5-0.

Wake Forest answered with a ferocious fifth inning. Costello singled to bring home Broderick and the first Demon Deacon run. Wilken added one more run on a bases-loaded walk, and Seymour blasted a grand slam to right-field.

The longshot provided Wake Forest a lead of 6-5. Seymour is ranked No. 9 in the ACC in RBIs this season. Furthermore, the talented first baseman is among the top-15 in the ACC with eight home runs.

A home run and several base hits gave Duke a lead of 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth inning. But, the Demon Deacons would not go away. In the sixth inning, a double from Cecere and a sacrifice fly from Costello tied the game back up at seven.

Despite the Wake Forest rally, a pair of two-run home runs in the seventh and eighth innings gave Duke a lead of 11-7. The scoring ended there.

Three Demon Deacons finished with multiple hits in the game, including Turconi (3), Costello (2) and Cecere (2). In the loss, Tinsman extended his hitting streak to nine games.

On the mound, freshman Rhett Lowder earned the start for Wake Forest and had a tough day, allowing seven runs on 10 hits through 4.1 innings. Freshmen Hunter Furtado and Camden Minacci combined to allow four runs on four hits in 3.1 innings of work.

“Needless to say, it was a must-win game, and we didn’t come through,” Walter commented. “I think we went 2-for-17 against their bullpen. We obviously didn’t make a couple of pitches we needed to and left a couple of fastballs flat against hitters that have holes. If you make the pitches, you get them out. If you don’t, then bad things can happen.”

In both wins this week and in three of the four games total, Wake Forest did not commit any errors, a huge improvement from the eight errors in the previous series against Virginia Tech. The Demon Deacons have been hurt all season by their 0.965 fielding percentage (11th in the ACC).

After the 2-2 week, the Demon Deacons will stay on the road for four more games, including a midweek out of conference matchup against Western Carolina set for April 20. Another ACC weekend series will follow on April 23-25 in South Carolina, as Wake Forest will square off against Clemson.