Wake Forest’s baseball team departed Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Thursday morning ...
... for a cross-country trip to Long Beach State.
It’s the Deacons’ third trip to California in the last five seasons, and they’ll be looking to avoid some of the previous pitfalls.
Here are five things to know for the Deacons’ three-game series out west:
1. Find the offense
Wake Forest got through its opening weekend with three wins in four games, and was leading UNC Greensboro 6-2 through five innings when Tuesday night’s game was suspended.
The Deacons’ pitching staff at least has the earliest makings of one that’s improved from last season. And once the weekend ended, Coach Tom Walter was eager to see his team’s offense get going.
“We’re not swinging the bat great right now, but I think that’s early season stuff,” Walter said. “We know this team is good offensively, so that’ll start to click here soon.”
2. Rested bullpen
The Deacons head west with what should be a near-full arsenal of its bullpen.
Wake Forest got 3 1/3 innings from Riley Myers on Tuesday and then used Cole McNamee and Bobby Hearn in relief. Closer Shane Smith and Tyler were the only relievers used in Sunday’s win against Illinois, both effective and efficient in shutting down the Fighting Illini.
The other factor at play is that the Deacons will have one starter from last weekend — likely Antonio Menendez or William Fleming — available out of the bullpen, since this is only a three-game series.
3. Recent California trips
Wake Forest went to California in 2018 and 2016, losing two of three games in each trip, both of which came in the second weekend of the season.
Two years ago, the Deacons lost a couple of games at Santa Clara. And in 2016, the Deacons dropped two of three at USC.
4. 49ers split
Long Beach State won its first two games of the season against California, which was an NCAA tournament team last season. The 49ers won the first game 3-2 in the 13th inning, and then the second game 4-0 on a combined three-hitter from Alfredo Ruiz and Jonathan Carlos.
But Long Beach State dropped its past two games ahead of this weekend’s series, losing the series finale to California and losing to Washington 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Wake Forest’s one California native, Witt, is looking forward to this trip.
“I’m excited to go home, get some In-and-Out (Burger),” the senior lefty from Claremont, Calif., said. “I don’t know when the next time I’ll be home is because, after this, I’m going to move to New York and start a job up there. So it’ll be probably my last time in California for a while.
“I’ve got a lot of coaches who’ll be out there … coaches and teachers, so it’ll be fun.”