Baseball sends NC State packing

The Demon Deacons return to their winning ways with a flawless doubleheader


Courtesy of WFU Athletics

The first game of Sunday’s doubleheader was Wake Forest’s Epilepsy Awareness Game. Wake Forest players wore lavender practice jerseys.

Avikar Khakh, Staff Writer

No. 2 Wake Forest (28-4, 12-2) held off in-conference rival NC State (20-11, 5-9) this past weekend, sweeping the Sunday doubleheader, along with the series, two games to none. The  Demon Deacons were looking forward to playing a three-game set against the Wolfpack, but the first game of the series was canceled due to inclement weather. A doubleheader on Sunday was the result. 

In the first matchup of the day, Wake Forest junior Rhett Lowder (6-0) took the mound and looked to face NC State’s junior Logan Whitaker (2-2). The Demon Deacons got off to a quick start in the first inning after junior Pierce Bennett singled to left center, scoring junior Lucas Costello to give Wake Forest the swift 1-0 lead. The Wolfpack responded quickly in the second inning, tying the game on an RBI single from junior Kalae Harrison. 

In the fourth inning, the Demon Deacons were able to string together a few solid at-bats. Junior Justin Johnson knocked a lead-off single at the start of the inning. Then, junior Jake Reinisch reached first on a walk followed by a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Danny Corona, allowing for Johnson and Reinisch to each advance a base. With runners in prime scoring position, junior Bennett Lee made no mistake as he hit an RBI single, scoring Johnson. To follow up, freshman Marek Houston flew out to right field, bringing Lee home to tag up and score on a sacrifice fly, giving the Demon Deacons a 3-1 lead. 

Once again, the Wolfpack answered quickly. A three-run homer in the following inning gave them their first lead of the game at 4-3. As a result, junior Seth Keener (4-0) took over for Lowder  and was able to finish the inning with three consecutive outs, including two strikeouts. Lowder finished his afternoon with four innings pitched, seven hits allowed and four strikeouts. 

The Demon Deacons took back the lead in the seventh inning after Bennett earned a walk with the bases loaded, scoring Houston. Immediately after, Costello scored on a wild pitch followed by a sacrifice fly to left field by Johnson, scoring Wilken. With a dominant seventh inning, Wake Forest took the 6-4 lead. 

Keener continued his commanding performance on the mound with a one-two-three eighth inning. Keener finished his afternoon with four innings pitched, zero hits and four strikeouts before junior Camden Minacci took over the mound in the ninth inning. Minacci was able to get three outs and shut down the Wolfpack’s bats, and the Demon Deacons won in the first of the two-game set. 

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Demon Deacons started with sophomore Josh Hartle (6-1) and faced the Wolfpack’s freshman Matt Willadsen (4-2).

 In the third inning, Wake Forest broke the ice with Bennett hitting an RBI single to left field, scoring sophomore Tommy Hawke. The Demon Deacons, not content with the score being 1-0, scored two more thanks to a passed ball and a wild pitch, scoring Costello and Wilken. 

With Hartle pitching an excellent game, it wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Wolfpack finally got on the scoreboard. After an error committed by the Wake Forest infield and two separate RBI singles, NC State was able to tie the game at three runs a piece. Sophomore Sean Sullivan (5-1) took the mound from Hartle, who finished his day with four innings pitched, six hits allowed and five strikeouts. 

The Demon Deacons answered back in the seventh inning after Bennett hit a clutch RBI double, scoring Costello and advancing Wilken to third base. To follow up, Wilken and Bennett both came home to score after an infield error by the Wolfpack, giving the Demon Deacons a 6-3 lead. 

Sullivan, continuing his dominant pitching campaign, was able to close out the NC State offense with a shutdown eighth inning, followed by a solid ninth inning to give Wake Forest the series sweep with a 6-3 win. 

Earning their 28th win of the season while also improving their in-conference record to 12-2, the Demon Deacons look to keep rolling through the season with their remarkable pitching and timely hitting.

After a 10-4 win Tuesday night against Appalachian State, Wake Forest will now look ahead to an important three-game set against in-conference No. 10 Louisville. The series against the Cardinals will kick off this upcoming Friday, April 14, and will run through the weekend in Cardinal Stadium.