WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Georgia Tech was down to its final strike — twice.
In fact, Wake’s Ben Breazeale had the final out bounce right out of his glove.
Then on the very next pitch, Tech’s Coleman Poje chopped one right back to Wake relief pitcher Griffin Roberts. A good throw to first finishes the game, but it was wide of Gavin Sheets at first. Two Georgia Tech runners scored, then Poje made it home on a wild pitch to tie the game.
The Deacs three-run lead with two-out and nobody on in the top of the 9th went by the wayside, and they eventually lost 7-6 on an 11th inning solo shot by Ryan Peurifoy.
Wake starter Parker Dunshee struck out 12 in six innings of work, and Logan Harvey’s two-run bomb in the bottom of the 8th gave the Deacs their 6-3 lead with closer Roberts set to pitch the 9th for what would have been a three-inning save.
Instead the Deacs took a crushing defeat. We spoke with Wake Forest coach Tom Walter after the loss.
On the message to the team after this type of loss
Walter: “We have to respond. We have to come out tomorrow and play well. We need a good start out of Donnie (Sellers). Obviously, they’re kind of on a freeroll after we handed this one away. We have to answer the bell. We have a chance to win the series at home. We have to come out and get a win tomorrow, then send CJ (Connor Johnstone) out there on Sunday. It’s a long season. You run into adversity along the way in baseball, and you have to answer the bell.
“We have to come out here and grind out our at-bats better. We gave away three runs in the 9th. We know that. It’s obvious, but I was disappointed more with our at-bats in the 9th, 10th and 11th. Give credit to their pitcher. He did a nice job, but we have to have better at-bats in that situation and we didn’t do that tonight.”
On if the defensive mistakes in the 9th helped lead to the poor at-bats in the subsequent innings
Walter: “Yeah. It happens. These are kids. They are 19-to-22 year old kids and they get emotional. It’s harder for them to put things aside when they go bad. We have to be able to do that, stay positive with each other and believe in ourselves. We’ll come out tomorrow and play well.”
On the key to turning the series around
Walter: “The key is starting pitching. Griffin threw 64 pitches today. (John) McCarren threw two innings today, and they are our two best bullpen guys. We need good starts out of Donnie and CJ if we’re going to turn the series around.”
On what leads to a series of breakdowns that results in a big inning like the top of the 9th
Walter: “That stuff happens. We had a guy 0-2 and throw a bad pitch, so he singles to left. We have a guy 3-2 who fouled off two breaking balls then we walk him. Then we drop a popup. We get a comebacker to the mound. All we have to do is throw the ball to 1st and the game is over. Then we kick it around in right field. If we play that normally in right field, they don’t score and that runner don’t go to third. The coach was holding the runner. We didn’t field it cleanly coming off the wall. It was just a whole host of things that came together. With two outs and nobody on, a lot of things have to go against you for that to happen, and it did.”
On Dunshee and Roberts pitching
Walter: “Dunshee was solid. He gave up the two solo home runs. The other run was on a double where we should have made a play. Dunshee didn’t have his best stuff today, but he battled. He put it Griff’s hands. We had it right where we wanted it, but that’s baseball.”
On Logan Harvey’s two-run 8th inning home run
Walter: “Everything was lined up the way we wanted it. Two outs with a three-run lead in the 9th inning with Griffin Roberts. We’re going to win that game 99.9 percent of the time, but we didn’t get it done tonight.”