WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest relief pitcher Morgan McSweeney got Elon’s Kyle Jackson swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the first out of the 7th inning, but coach Tom Walter still made a quick visit to the mound.
“We talked about pitching downhill. When Morgan’s throwing the ball downhill, he’s really hard to hit,” Walter said. “The 3-2 pitch — yeah, he got a strikeout, but it was out of the zone. If the kid takes the pitch, he walks. I wanted to remind him to get back in his delivery and back into what we do — throwing the ball downhill.”
McSweeney delivered — striking out the next two Phoenix to complete his two-inning outing with five Ks.
Carter Back struck out the side in the 8th and Rayne Supple did the same in the 9th.
No. 17 Wake (22-8, 8-4) struck out 18 Elon (15-14) batters in a 14-1 victory Tuesday night at David F. Couch Ballpark.
“First and foremost, our pitching was really good today. Drew Loepprich threw the ball really well, striking out seven while just walking one,” Walter said. “We only had three walks, gave up four hits and struck out 18 guys. All four of those guys did well today, which was good to see. It gave us a chance to get going.”
Wake third baseman Johnny Aiello connected for his 10th home run of the season in the bottom of the 3rd inning, sparking a six-run explosion for the Deacs that gave them a 6-1 lead.
“In the six-run inning, we had several good at-bats. Johnny Aiello’s home run obviously, but even before that Jake Mueller and Stuart Fairchild got us going. It was a good inning,” Walter said.
The Deacs then exploded for eight more runs in the 7th, sparked by a two-home run outburst by pinch hitter Nick DiPonzio. DiPonzio led off the inning with a solo shot, then delivered a grand slam later in the same inning.
“Nick DiPonzio comes off the bench and hits two home runs. He’s been working hard in batting practice,” Walter said. “He’s made some good swing adjustments in his set-up and approach. We’ve seen it in BP and his at-bats have been good too.”
Loepprich earned the win, going five innings, but the Demon Deacon bullpen also delivered. McSweeney has been especially notable of late, stringing together back-to-back solid outings.
“He’s been throwing the ball well out of the stretch. Early in the year, he was throwing well out of the wind-up, but struggled from the stretch,” Walter said. “Today and in Miami, he threw exclusively from the stretch and threw the ball really well. That’s a good sign of things to come for us. He’s an important piece to our bullpen.”
Wake had multi-hit games from Stuart Fairchild, Gavin Sheets, Jake Mueller and Logan Harvey in addition to the aforementioned DiPonzio and Aiello.
“Good to see Stuart Fairchild and Gavin Sheets get the barrel on the ball a couple times tonight,” Walter said. “We’re going to need those guys tomorrow and this weekend. It’s good to see those guys get going.”
The Deacs compete in the back-end of a home-and-home mid-week series at Elon at 6 p.m. Wednesday. They then play a crucial three-game ACC series at No. 2 Louisville starting Friday.