Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics
After taking one game from No. 7 Florida State in a three-game series, the Wake Forest baseball team was even more successful this past weekend, earning a series win against then-No. 10 Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Demon Deacons are now 16-4 on the season and 3-3 in the ACC, good for third place in the Atlantic Division. Despite not being ranked by the NCAA, Wake Forest was rated the No. 24 team in the country by Perfect Game.
On Friday, Wake Forest’s pitching led the team to a 5-3 victory. Sophomore starting pitcher Rhett Lowder faced strong competition and only allowed three runs — two earned — over five innings. Then, the combination of sophomore Camden Minacci and redshirt sophomore Eric Adler closed the game with four scoreless innings.
“[Lowder] battled,” Wake Forest Head Coach Tom Walter said after the game. “He had some things go against him early. I was really proud of the way he pitched in the fourth and fifth [innings] with the game on the line, making big pitch after big pitch. [I’m] really proud of him.”
On Saturday, it was the Demon Deacons’ offense that propelled the team to clinch the series. Freshman Nick Kurtz knocked six hits and six RBIs, while sophomore Brock Wilken and redshirt junior Brandon Tinsman added two home runs each leading Wake Forest to a blowout 27-7 win. Those 27 runs, along with 28 hits, are both a program record within an ACC game.
On Sunday, to end the series, Georgia Tech finally found their stride and looked like the No. 10 team in the country in a 14-5 victory. After being the No. 2 starter to begin the season, freshman Josh Hartle was in the No. 3 slot this past weekend and was knocked around by the Yellow Jackets, giving up eight runs over 2.2 innings.
In the first inning on Friday, the Wake Forest bats went right to work, with redshirt junior Michael Turconi hitting a three-run home run to left field. Georgia Tech also got on the board in the first inning with a fielder’s choice and error bringing in a run. In the second inning, the Yellow Jackets inched within one run of the Wake Forest lead, as a single up the middle scored a runner from second — who was there by way of a wild pitch.
Two innings later though, Kurtz extended the lead for the Demon Deacons, bringing in freshman Tommy Hawke despite hitting into a double-play. Despite a third run from the Yellow Jackets in the following half inning, sophomore Jake Reinisch gave Wake Forest the extra cushion they needed, adding a fifth run in the top of the fifth inning. From there, with a two-run lead, Minacci and Adler closed the door on Georgia Tech, only allowing one hit over four innings.
Minacci has been especially valuable for the Demon Deacons in this early season. In 17 innings pitched, the sophomore has only allowed nine hits and two runs, good for a 1.06 ERA, one of the best in the ACC. Walter lauded Minacci’s success after the game.
“Obviously, Cam Minacci, you can’t throw the ball any better than that,” Walter said.
The following day, the Yellow Jackets were the team to get on the board early, tagging three runs on sophomore starter Seth Keener in the first inning. In the next half inning, though, Tinsman hit his first home run of the day — a two-run shot. Both teams added a run in the third inning, with Wilken doing so for Wake Forest by way of a sacrifice fly. In the fourth inning, the Demon Deacons took a one-run lead with a 2-RBI double by Kurtz and an RBI single by redshirt sophomore Pierce Bennett.
By the end of the fifth inning, Wake Forest had extended its lead to 13. Wilken kicked off the inning with a solo home run, which was followed by a RBI single by freshman Danny Corona. Then, singles by Hawke, Kurtz and Bennett each brought in a run. A two-run single by Turconi increased the lead to eight. Then, Wilken and Tinsman home runs added another five runs.
In the sixth inning, a 2-RBI single by Reinisch added to the scoreline, while a seventh-inning hit from Bennett added another. An eighth-inning double by Kurtz gave Wake Forest a 23-5 lead. In the ninth inning, both teams added two runs, giving the Demon Deacons the 27-7 win.
“[It was a] great team win,” Walter said after the game. “We swung the bats really well. Nick Kurtz had a huge day. [It was] good to see Brock Wilken [and] Brendan Tinsman swing the bat really well. Those three guys were the difference today.”
In the first inning on Sunday, the Yellow Jackets picked up their game, scoring six runs. They added to that lead with three additional runs between the second and sixth inning. Down 9-0 in the seventh inning, Wake Forest attempted to mount a comeback, scoring four runs off the bats of Reinisch, Tinsman and Corona, but it proved to be too little too late. Georgia Tech added three additional runs after the Demon Deacons first got their name on the scoreline, leading to the victory.
“It was a disappointing day for us,” Walter said after the game. “We just didn’t make plays.”
Regardless, Wake Forest left Atlanta with two wins against a Top 10 team in the nation, and Walter recognized that.
“It was a good weekend series all-in-all,” Walter said. “Anytime you win two of three on the road in this league, it’s a good weekend for your ball club.”
The road ahead doesn’t get any easier for Wake Forest. This coming weekend, the Demon Deacons are set to face off against another Top 10 team, the University of Virginia, who are currently ranked No. 10 in the NCAA. In the ACC, the tough contests never really end.