WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest hit two grand slam home runs in a 21-hit performance Sunday afternoon, topping Radford 18-7 to complete a four-win, undefeated weekend.
“We had some clutch two-out RBIs early in the game. I thought we did a good job with two outs,” Wake Forest coach Tom Walter said. “Logan Harvey got us on the board. We got down 2-0 and kind of feeling the pressure in the dugout. Logan gets us on the board with a 2-out RBI to make it 2-1. The one thing we did is every time they scored, we scored in the next half inning.”
The Highlanders plated two in the top of the 2nd on an errant throw by Wake starting pitcher Drew Loepprich. With runners at first and second, Loepprich fielded a bunt and fired to third trying to get the lead runner. The throw sailed into left field, giving Radford a 2-0 lead.
The Deacs answered with a single run in both the 2nd and 3rd innings to tie the game.
“You have to respond in those situations and grab the momentum back in college baseball, and we did a good job of that today,” Walter said.
Loepprich went 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and three runs — all unearned. He struck out five batters and didn’t factor in the decision.
“He was solid. We had a couple of defensive miscues. Just some fluky things that cost us some baserunners,” Walter said. “Loepprich is not going to get a lot of strikeouts, so you have to play clean behind him. We didn’t do that today.
“The flip side is that he got a huge double play when he needed it. That helped him manage those innings and not let those one-and-two run innings turn into three-and-four run innings.”
The Wake Forest bats exploded for six runs each in the 6th and 8th innings. Gavin Sheets, Bruce Steel and Zach Seal all hit home runs for the Deacs, with Steel and Seal’s being of the grand-slam variety.
The Deacs are getting hot at the right time, with ACC play beginning Friday against North Carolina State.
“It’s huge, especially the way we did it. We scored some runs. We had some guys start to swing the bat better. Johnny Aiello and Ben Breazeale had big weekends,” Walter said. “(Gavin) Sheets and (Stuart) Fairchild were good, and Jake Mueller had a great weekend. We’ve had guys up and down the order get comfortable as we’ve gotten into the season, which is what you need. All those at-bats are important.”
Despite the hot bats, Walter is most excited to see balance this season — an optimistic pre-season thought that seems to have borne out through the first three weekends of play.
“Our pitching has a chance to be really good — that’s the one thing that stands out, especially when we get down to three games on the weekend,” Walter said. “I like our lineup. It’s balanced up and down, but we have to stay healthy. We’re thin. We don’t have a lot of depth. We basically put in all of our subs today, but we only have four of them. In a long season, you worry about the bumps, bruises and nicks. But our guys work hard in the weight room, so we think we’ll be alright.”
The Deacs play at defending College World Series Champion Coastal Carolina Wednesday, then host preseason No. 6 North Carolina State for a three-game series next weekend.