LOUISVILLE, KY — The rain finally stopped dropping in Louisville, but so did the Wake Forest hits.
The Deacs stranded 16 runners on base in a 5-2 loss to Miami Friday afternoon at Louisville Slugger Field in the ACC Championship.
“Obviously disappointing loss for us. We just didn't command the baseball as well as we needed to today, especially at the end of the game. Obviously most disappointed for Parker Dunshee, who went out there and deserved to get a win for us today. But unfortunately we couldn't close it out,” Wake Forest coach Tom Walter said. “You know quite honestly we're not built to win 2-1 games. We need to win 2-1 games and find a way to win those games but we're Biltmore for the 5-4, 5-3,6-4 variety, and obviously we didn't get it done. Leaving 16 on base in nine innings is prolific, and we just need to do a better job with runners in scoring position.”
The win advanced Miami (31-26) to the semifinal round and eliminated the Deacs (39-18).
Wake center fielder Stuart Fairchild delivered the early fireworks — and the only runs of the game — with two solo home runs, one in the 1st and one in the 3rd.
Wake left the bases full in the 7th and 9th innings, and stranded a pair of runners in 4th, 6th and 8th — 10 total base runners stranded in the critical final four innings.
They were just 3-for-19 at the plate with runners on base.
The Deacs pounded the ball in the bottom of the 4th, but left a pair stranded after a pair of diving plays in the field by Miami.
"Yeah, that was the game. That inning, Chester made the play in left-center field and they made the play on the infield on a 5-4 and there was another hard-hit ball to end the inning,” Walter said. “The second baseman made a really good play on the ball to his left that Pryor hit. Those three plays, if they don't make those plays, we extend the game there and probably run Parker another inning, and we're probably having a different conversation right now.
“But again, give credit to them that they made three really good plays and the one Chester made, that's as good of a play as you're going to see that ball. I thought that ball was down for sure and he came out nowhere to make that play. That was a great play.”
Wake drew 11 walks from Miami pitching, with not a single one of those runners crossing home plate.
“Yeah, it's definitely tough,” Fairchild said about hitting against pitchers who are so wild. “Those are my least favorite kind of guys to hit because he's got good stuff obviously but he's all over the place. You don't really know where to look necessarily because he could throw one outside, he could throw one inside, you don't know. And he was up to 98. That's tough when he's all over the place but at times would just spot up randomly, so it's hard to know as a hitter what you're going to get.”
Wake starter Parker Dunshee was masterful, throwing one of his best games of the season. He went seven innings, allowing just one run on a solo blast in the 7th. He gave up just four hits and struck out four.
“Yeah, this is definitely one of my best outings in the past month or two. Fastball coming in to arm side was better today than it was glove side but they had a lot of righties and I was able to go them, and made the one mistake to Michelangeli and he homered on it,” Dunshee said. “But other than that, I had a breaking ball for a strike early in the count and was able to put some guys away with it. Overall my command was okay. Walked some guys that I shouldn't have walked but overall I thought I threw the ball pretty well.”
Closer Griffin Roberts was wild, issuing four walks and tossing two wild pitches in his 1.2 innings pitched. He gave up four runs - all earned, and was charged with the loss.
“Yeah, at the end I thought my count was pretty good. But obviously Griffin is one of the main reasons we're in the situation we are today. And going for our 40th win, he's gotten us as many wins as anybody on the team. We trust him in that situation and we're going to be in it again next week for him to take the ball. Who knows, my pitch count to be 110 next week after seven and he needs to be able to get a two-inning save throwing the ball well, too, is going to be huge going forward,” Dunshee said. “I like the way our guys played and the way we go about the game. I'm confidence going into next weekend and in Griffin, and anybody in that situation. But as a competitor obviously I wanted the eighth and if we would have scored, I would have gone back out. But all the confidence in the world in our guys and their ability to shut down the offense.”
The Deacs now await their NCAA Tournament fate. The selection show is Monday at noon, and the Deacs are widely expected to show up as a regional host, with play beginning next weekend, likely in Winston-Salem.