TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Wake held on to a 4-3 win over Florida State (33-19, 12-13) in the finish of game one Saturday afternoon, but the Seminoles shutout the Deacs in the second game of the day 4-0.
Wake (34-16, 16-10) closer Griffin Roberts threw two scoreless innings to earn the save in the finish of game one, which was started Friday night.
“Against Florida State, you have to throw strikes. They’re a very patient club,” Wake Forest coach Tom Walter said. “They are going to take walks if you’re willing to walk them. They put pressure on you.”
A walk and a base hit to center field put a little game pressure on Roberts, but an unusual 1-4-3 double play finished the game and secured the victory for the Deacs.
“The good news is that Griffin only walked one, and pitched ahead most of the time,” Walter said. “Colin Peluse gave us three really good innings. We threw the all well in that first game.”
Peluse earned the win (3-1), giving up just one hit, one walk and one run in his three innings of work. The Deacs left nine runners on base, and had several opportunities to extend the lead that came up short.
“It’s huge to hold onto the win, but we should have been able to extend the lead. We had all sorts of situations to extend the lead and we wouldn’t have had to go to Griffin,” Walter said. “Now, we’re headed to game three and they haven’t thrown their closer yet and we have.”
Florida State starter Tyler Holton was simply magnificent in hurling a four-hit complete-game shutout in the second contest Saturday.
“He was throwing off-speed stuff behind in the count. His change up was really good tonight. He didn’t get into bad counts,” Walter said. “He didn’t get into a three-ball count until the first hitter of the 9th inning. He pitched ahead and we didn’t make adjustments. Give him credit. He threw a heck of a game.”
The Deacs never had a runner get to second base the entire game, and fell behind 4-0 in the first inning.
“That puts pressure on your hitters to create innings. Getting behind hurts,” Walter said. “After that, we threw the ball pretty well.”
Back-to-back walks allowed by Donnie Sellers was followed by back-to-back doubles by FSU as they grabbed the lead in the bottom of the 1st. Sellers allowed two more singles and plunked a batter before battling out of the inning. He allowed just one additional hit over the next five innings pitched.
“Really, he pitched six good innings if you take out the first five hitters of the game. But that’s been his story all year,” Walter said. “We need to do something different in the bullpen or something. I don’t know what the answer is. I know coach Hobbs has tried different things, and we’ll continue to try things until we get it right.”
Morgan McSweeney pitched the 7th and 8th for the Deacs, striking out two while allowing just one base hit.
“Morgan has been throwing the ball well for us lately,” Walter said. “If you can locate your fastball and spin a breaking ball, you’re going to have success in college baseball.”
Six previous times this season, the Deacs have split the first two games of an ACC series. Five times they’ve pulled out the series win with Connor Johnstone on the mound. They seek to make it six-out-of-seven Sunday.
“He’s delivered every time, so hopefully he does again tomorrow,” Walter said. “I like our chances, because Connor is throwing the ball well and we’ll have a bounce-back game offensively.”
The final game of the series is set for a 1 p.m. start. Johnstone (7-0, 3.04) gets the start for Wake against FSU’s Drew Parrish (5-2, 4.94).
The Deacs are currently tied for 3rd in the ACC with Clemson, though the Tigers have the tiebreaker having won the series over Wake earlier this season. Virginia is just one game back. There are four regular-season games left in the conference slate.