WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Black team pitchers allowed just one Gold hit in an 8-1 victory Sunday afternoon in the final game of the Wake Forest Baseball Fall World Series at David F. Couch Ballpark.
Wake Forest coach Tom Walter spoke with Demon Deacon Digest after the contest that closed the book on fall camp for the Deacs.
On the pitching job by the Black team Sunday afternoon
Walter: “Yeah. (Parker) Dunshee and (Connor) Johnstone — those are two senior, experienced guys that have been conference guys for a couple years now. They did what you expect them to do, and that’s go out and throw well when it mattered. Both the guys had three pitches working. Dunshee’s been working on improvements on his change up since last year, and I’m really excited about that. Connor has added a cutter since last year, which I’m excited about. Those are separator pitches for both of those guys. Both of them are better than they were a year ago, which is great.”
On Johnstone’s two appearances in the series
Walter: “I was impressed with his command of the fastball. He pitched downhill to both sides of the plate, and mixes in a good cutter. I didn’t get to see him last fall, because he was shut down last fall after having a busy spring and summer last year, so that’s the first time I’ve been back there (watching him while calling balls and strikes). He’s good. He’s a really good college pitcher. I was impressed with both those guys today.”
On the competition for the other starting spots
Walter: “Connor has had success in the past. Anytime where you have a returner who has been a part of your conference rotation for a couple years now, certainly someone would have to knock him out of there and prove they’re clearly better than him. The time for that is not the fall. We would look at that seriously in January or February, but certainly now he’s in that role.”
On what he learned most about his team during the camp
Walter: “It’s just little things, like what they need to work on during the off season. Our freshmen need to command the ball better, and command their off-speed pitches better. They can’t be a one-trick pony in this league, against this competition. When you get there, see how their breaking ball is shaped, and see what kind of adjustments they make it’s kind of a learning experience for me. When we have these meetings in the winter, I’ll be able to talk specifically about the things they need to do to help us win next season. For (Carter) Bach and (Morgan) McSweeney — those guys need to command their off-speed pitches better. And they’ll both do that. They’re both good athletes, and have good deliveries. That’s what they need to do between now and then to be a factor for us in the spring.”
On if there’s one or two players he was surprised with in terms of production this fall
Walter: “Patrick Frick played really well for sure. Our returners did about what I expected them to do. Johnny Aiello is playing well right now. We’re please with Johnny. We’ve been happy with Bruce Steel defensively at shortstop. He’s done a nice job, and is competing for that job. Overall, we’re happy with where we are. We have to stay healthy, and we’ve talked about that before. We’re thin, and that can be a problem if we have injuries in the wrong spot.”
On what is on the team agenda the next couple of months
Walter: “Mostly in the weight room. We’re trying to change bodies, and get them more physical and stronger. We want them to put on some weight going into a spring where we know they’re going to lose some weight. We’re just dedicating these next two months to mobility and strength. That will help with injury prevention.”
On when practice will begin in earnest
Walter: “When we return in January, we’ll get going with some individuals immediately. We can’t full team practice until three Fridays before opening day. There’s about a week to 10 days before the team reports that they will do stuff on their own. Once they get back from winter break, we’re pretty much a full go.”
On what has him most excited about next year’s team
Walter: “I’m excited about all phases. I think we have the potential to be a good offensive club. I think we’re improved defensively, and I think we’re going to be much deeper on the mound. I really think we’re going to be better in all three phases. Obviously, we’re going to miss Will Craig. I don’t know that we’ll have someone that can singularly carry us like he did at times last year. But that’s okay, because we’ll have a more balanced, deeper lineup than we had last year. I think we have a chance to be better at all three phases of the game, which is always a good thing.”
On the ACC Tournament moving to 12 teams
Walter: “It’s a good thing. With the unbalanced schedule, where you’re missing three teams, that’s nine games — which is a big swing. You can have a situation like last year, where North Carolina had an RPI in the teens, and they didn’t get a NCAA Tournament bid because they didn’t make our conference tournament. That never should have happened. Carolina played a tougher conference schedule than some teams that got in the tournament. They didn’t make it in partly because one of those teams had a rainout game. I just didn’t think it’s right. It’s one thing if everybody plays everybody. But if there’s an unbalanced schedule and when weather comes into play, it just gets too tough to separate the 11th and 12th spots from the seventh and eighth spots. It’s just so close. I hate to see one of our teams left out because of a rainout game. It’s not a great format, but there’s no ideal format with 12 teams.