Baseball sweeps doubleheader on way to 4-0 weekend

Wake Forest outscored its opponents 24-2 in Friday’s games

The+baseball+team+celebrates+its+18-2+victory+against+Mount+St.+Marys+on+Friday+afternoon.

Courtesy of Wake Forest Baseball

The baseball team celebrates its 18-2 victory against Mount St. Mary’s on Friday afternoon.

Sean Kennedy, Assistant Sports Editor

Superb pitching, a dominant offense and even a few great plays on the defensive end all meshed for an excellent slate of games which saw them defeat their opponents by a 24-2 margin over both Friday games.

The Demon Deacons returned back to “The Couch” for a weekend tournament against the Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers and the Binghamton Bearcats. The team started the tournament with a doubleheader on Friday, with aces Sean Sullivan and Rhett Lowder each taking the mound.

In the first matchup, the Mountaineers struggled mightily against the red-hot Sullivan, who earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors for the second straight week with his performance. He retired 16 straight batters to start the game, 10 of whom he struck out. 

Meanwhile, it was like batting practice for the Demon Deacon dugout, with multiple players hitting home runs in the first inning. Brock Wilken would launch a 421-foot bomb to left field to score himself and Pierce Bennett, while Justin Johnson would hit a 345-foot drive to left center to bring both him and Adam Cecere home to put the team up 4-0 at the end of the first.

The scoring continued for the Demon Deacons in the next few innings, including when Bennett scored Marek Houston on an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the second. The next inning would feature multiple runs for the squad as well, as Houston, Tommy Hawke and Gio Cueto each knocked in a run. After Johnson and Chris Katz knocked in a pair of the runs in the fourth, the Demon Deacons led 10-0.

It wasn’t until the top of the fifth inning that Sullivan would lose his perfect game bid after he hit a batter with a pitch. Still, he carried a no-hit bid all the way through six innings, and he would finish the day with 11 strikeouts on just 77 pitches.

Behind a pair of doubles from Cecere and Johnson and a home run from Corona in the sixth, the Demon Deacons went into the latter half of the game with 16 runs in hand. With the large margin, Head Coach Tom Walter sought out a few substitutions and field position changes, including pinch hitting Kyle Joye for Bennett and Jack Winnay for Wilken, while Andrew Noland came in for Cecere in the next half-inning.

In one of the few flaws for the Demon Deacons on the day, reliever Ben Shenosky let up a first-pitch homer to the Mountaineers’ Brayden Foster in the top of the seventh inning, ending the chance of a combined no-hitter. He would battle back from his rough start, however, striking out two batters before a groundout got him out of the inning with two men left on base.

The onslaught of runs from the Demon Deacon dugout did not stop at 16. In the bottom of the seventh, Corona added another homer to the board, a 427-footer that just eked to the left of the right field pole to add an additional two runs to the board. The 18-1 lead would be as comfortable as the bats let it be; however, as the Demon Deacons stopped scoring after that.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Demon Deacons saw a single run go against them from the Mountaineers, who would end up losing on the day, 18-2.

In the next outing, the Demon Deacon bats were not nearly as hot, but starter Lowder kept his arm aflame.

Lowder, who had only let up a single run in his first outing of the season, has given Sullivan a run for his money in ACC Pitcher of the Week honors in recent weeks. He would also post an equally impressive scoreline from the mound on the day.

He would allow his only walk on the day in the first inning, moving Binghamton batter Mike Gunning to first on a full count. After the rare mistake, Lowder would turn his arm up even more, as he too retired 16-straight Bearcat batters. 

Although they wouldn’t score as often, the Demon Deacons would still get points on the board, including a first-inning, 357-foot homer in the bottom of the first for Wilken, gaining him an extra two RBIs on the day. Johnson got in on the festivities, too, knocking home Cecere on an RBI single in the first.

While Lowder was striking out everyone in existence, the bats scored again, when Cecere doubled to left field in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring Hawke and Bennett.

The Demon Deacons scored their last run in the bottom of the sixth, when Joye hit an RBI single to left field, scoring Johnson. That would bring the game to 6-0, Demon Deacons.

The Bearcats continued to struggle at the plate, yet Lowder lost a no-hit bid himself in the top of the sixth when Gunning struck a ball to left field. He would remain in for an additional inning before coming out with a statline of seven innings pitched, one hit and eight strikeouts — all on 87 pitches.

From there, the game settled down, and the score remained at 6-0 until the end, making Friday a single-day sweep for the Demon Deacons.

After a midweek, 8-6 victory over UNC Wilmington, the Demon Deacons play this coming Friday at David F. Couch Ballpark, facing Purdue-Fort Wayne. The coverage starts at 6 p.m. on ACCNX.