WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Self-inflicted wounds derailed the Deacs (3-4) Saturday as they fell 15-9 to Southern Cal (5-1).
The Trojans scored five in the 3rd and six in the 6th — innings the Deacs could have escaped with little to no damage with accurate pitching and timely defense.
After starter Connor Johnstone allowed two walks and single to load the bases in the top of the 3rd, USC shortstop Frankie Rios drilled one down the third base line.
Wake third baseman Johnny Aiello made stab at the ball, but his glove was empty. Rios knocked in two Trojans on a play that was ruled a double, but could have just as easily gone as an inning-ending double play.
Then in the 6th, Drew Loepprich struck out USC right fielder Corey Dempster swinging with one out, but a passed ball allowed him to reach first base. Two batters later, Wake Forest shortstop Bruce Steel booted a two-out ground ball that would have ended the inning.
Two batters after that, USC’s Adalberto Carrillo delivered the knockout blow — a grand slam home run to give the Trojans a 12-6 lead.
“We couldn’t have played worse than we did,” Wake Forest coach Tom Walter said. “It’s a combination of things — when you put the walks and the errors together.”
The Deacs allowed 10 walks, hit two batters, had two balks and two passed balls.
“We didn’t throw strikes. That many free base runners,” Walter said. “We gave up 10 hits and 15 runs. That’s hard to do. We had two routine double play balls that we make. They showed up in the boxscore as hits, but I think they are plays we should make.”
Walter said the Deacs have to be tighter in the field.
“I thought they were double plays balls. I think we got fooled on those ball, and thought they were harder hit,” he said. “We need to make those plays, especially in that situation. We didn’t, and USC capitalized. They hit a big home run.”
“I probably should have got to Rayne Supple. I had him ready for that guy. That was a bad decision on my part there.”
Connor Johnson went just 2.2 innings tonight for Wake, allowing four hits and six runs. He walked three and struck out two.
“It’s uncharacteristic of CJ. He’ll bounce back and throw it well next week,” Walter said. “He’s a command guy, for that to happen to him is rare.”
Gavin Sheets continued his hot weekend for Wake at the plate, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Keegan Maronpot had a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the 3rd, and Johnny Aiello had home run.
“The offense will be there,” Walter said. “Nine (runs) should be enough.”
The series finale takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday. Donnie Sellers (0-0, 2.45) starts for Wake against USC’s Marrick Crouse (1-0, 4.50).
“When the NCAA Tournament selections are made, they’re going to be looking at series like this,” Walter said. “We didn’t get it done last weekend, so especially at home we need to get it done.”