Baseball roars past Tigers to Bracket 2 Finals

The Diamond Deacs are now one win away from the World Series Finals


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Camden Minacci (No. 14) was drafted in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Angels.

Avikar Khakh, Staff Writer

No. 1-ranked Wake Forest and No. 5-ranked LSU met in the second game of the College World Series — an opportunity for both teams to place themselves in a strong position to advance one step closer to the finals. 

Wake Forest went with sophomore Josh Hartle, who dueled with LSU junior Ty Floyd. Both pitchers got off to strong starts in the first and second innings, keeping the score knotted at zero.

Despite that, LSU broke the scoreless tie in the third inning, first with an RBI single from sophomore Tommy White, scoring sophomore Josh Pearson and giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. That lead was extended in the following at-bat after junior Tre’ Morgan hit an RBI triple, which was caused by a bad read in left field by junior Adam Cecere, making it 2-0 LSU. Hartle responded in the fourth inning with two strikeouts and was able to escape the inning with no further harm. 

Right fielder Pierce Bennett knocked a lead-off hit in the fourth inning and reached second after a passed ball, giving the Demon Deacon offense an opportunity to do some damage. However, Floyd showed his power by striking out the next three batters, putting him at 8 Ks through four innings. 

After five long innings of struggle from the Demon Deacon offense, they got comfortable in the sixth inning and knotted the game up. Three straight Demon Deacons walked, loading the bases. Third baseman Brock Wilken stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI single up the middle, scoring Tommy Hawke to make it a 2-1 game. To follow up, second baseman Justin Johnson grounded into a double play, which allowed Pierce Bennett to tie up the game. 

The bases were then loaded again as a result of designated hitter Danny Corona being hit by a pitch and catcher Bennett Lee drawing a walk. Cecere was up to the plate with an opportunity to give the Demon Deacons the lead; however, he struck out to end the inning and shortly after was subbed out of the game for Lucas Costello in left field. 

Hartle’s night came to an end after throwing 107 pitches. He finished with 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER and 9 K. Cole Roland took over the mound in the seventh inning and acquired two strikeouts before walking LSU’s star junior Dylan Crews. Junior Michael Massey was then called from the bullpen to earn the final out of the inning, which he did.   

The Tigers put on the pressure in the eighth inning after a lead-off double by Morgan, who eventually made his way to third base due to a fielding error. Then, a ground ball was hit to Wilken, and he made a tremendous play by sending it home to throw out Morgan. Lee came up huge as he was able to pick Wilken’s throw and tag out Morgan at the plate. As a result, Massey was taken out of the game for junior Camden Minacci. Minacci was able to successfully get out of the jam with a double play. 

Knotted up at two in the bottom of the eighth, the Demon Deacons needed a run. With an out on the board, Corona hit a significant double putting himself in scoring position. Following him, Lee hit a single through the shift, scoring Corona from second and giving Wake Forest the 3-2 lead. The Demon Deacons added no further runs and looked to win the game in the ninth inning with Minacci on the mound. 

With all the pressure in the world mounted on his shoulders, Minacci struck out the first two batters and forced the third into a ground out to end the game and keep his team undefeated in the NCAA Tournament.

After the game, the team was all smiles. 

“We know what we’re going to do. We know we’re going to win,” Lee said. “We really just have a ton of fun and believe in ourselves.” 

Minacci echoed his throwing partner. 

“Every single guy is having the time of their lives right now. Who can beat us?” 

Wake Forest will play LSU again Wednesday night. If Wake Forest wins, it will advance to the CWS Finals. If LSU wins, the teams will play again on Thursday.