Connor Johnstone pitched his second complete-game shutout of the season as the No. 24 Deacs topped Miami 9-0 Sunday to earn their first road series win over the Hurricanes ever.
The win also gave Wake (21-8, 8-4) its four-straight conference series win, the best such streak since 2002, when the Deacs went on to host an NCAA regional.
Wake struggled offensively in the first two games of the series, grinding out a 2-1 victory over Miami Friday despite just getting two base hits. They lost 5-1 Saturday, but the bats came to life Sunday.
Wake totaled 11 base hits and drove the ball out of the park four time. Wake had home runs from Keegan Maronpot, Gavin Sheet, Logan Harvey and Bruce Steel.
Wake plays a mid-week home-and-home series with Elon Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to ACC play with a weekend road series at No. 2 Louisville (24-3, 10-2).
Demon Deacon Digest spoke with Wake coach Tom Walter after the series clinching win Sunday.
On Connor Johnstone’s performance Sunday
Walter: “He was throwing three pitches for strikes. He was locating his fastball and pitching ahead. He didn’t walk anybody. There just wasn’t a lot of hard contact. They had a runner at third on time, and the kid lined out to shortstop. That’s really the only time they threatened to score. He was mixing his pitches well and throwing three of them for strikes. He was missing barrels.”
On having three reliable weekend starters thus far this season
Walter: “It is a nice luxury. Knock on wood that those guys continue to throw well. They’re getting us deep in games. The reality is that we haven’t had to extend out bullpen much. We got seven innings out of (Parker) Dunshee and two out of (Griffin) Roberts Friday, then the next day it was (Donnie) Sellers and (John) McCarren with (Morgan) McSweeney for an inning. Then CJ get’s the CG, so we only threw five pitchers on the weekend. We threw the ball well all weekend. Even the inning Donnie gave up the two runs, we shot ourselves in the foot. Even the 3-run inning against McCarren, we hurt ourselves. We pitched the ball really well all weekend.”
On starting ACC play with four series wins, two of them coming on the road
Walter: “I tells me we have some toughness, experience and guys who believe in each other. They are able to go on the road and play well, and in our league that’s not an easy thing to do. You go to a historic program like Miami and win two games — that’s never an easy thing to do. It speaks on our toughness, the group of guys we have and the way they feel about each other.”
On getting a win Friday night despite being held to two base hits
Walter: “Yeah, that doesn’t happen very often. We had a hit in the second inning with two out and two runners on to score the only two runners we needed. Anytime Parker Dunshee is on the mound — it you’d told me Dunshee was going to throw seven and Roberts was going to throw two then I’d say we won the game. That’s usually a good formula for success.”
On what led to the quiet bats Friday and Saturday
Walter: “Part of it was Miami’s two starters. Their two starters did a good job mixing their pitching and locating their fastball. They made us hit their pitch. Miami always has good pitching, and this year is no exception. Part of it is that we got pitched pretty tough both days, and another part of it was we got home run happy trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. The focus of our offense is to string quality at-bats together.”
On having two mid-week games coming up, and if that changes the way he approaches them
Walter: “It might change our pitching a little bit. We have to go into the Louisville series with our arms ready to roll. It’s one of those things where 18 innings mid-week is a lot, but the other team has to do it too. We do it against the same team, so at least we’re not in a disadvantage on that second day. We’ll need to get good starts. We’ll start Drew Loepprich on Tuesday and Colin Peluse will start on Wednesday. Hopefully, we’ll get good solid starts from both those guys and then piece together the end of the game.”
On if he ever came close to taking Connor Johnstone out in his complete game shutout
Walter: “We looked at taking him out after the 8th, after they made two pitching changes and went from six to nine (runs scored). We went to take him out, but he wanted it and he earned it. He earned the right to that last inning, and he went out and threw well in the 9th.”