DURHAM — Battling to extend its season, Wake Forest’s baseball team jumped out to an early lead and couldn’t hang on.
N.C. State scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to snatch a 6-5 win in Thursday night’s ACC Tournament game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
“Disappointing loss, had the game right where we wanted it. Kinda followed it right to the script that we had going into it and obviously just didn’t quite make enough plays,” Coach Tom Walter said. “Just disappointed for the guys who battled hard for us all day.”
A loss means the end of the season for Wake Forest (31-26), while N.C. State will play in the second semifinal game Saturday, slated for 5 p.m. The opponent will be the winner of Friday’s game between Georgia Tech and Duke.
Wake Forest entered this week needing to win at least these two games, and perhaps more, to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
In the bottom of the ninth, ACC Player of the Year Bobby Seymour hit a leadoff double off the wall in left field. After a pitching change, Shane Muntz popped out to first base, Michael Ludowig grounded out to first and Bruce Steel struck out.
This one saw the Deacons lead from the second inning until the top of the ninth. That’s when Will Wilson hit a leadoff triple off of closer William Fleming, who then walked Patrick Bailey. Fleming issued a one-out walk to load the bases, and then Brad Debo hit a two-run single to cut the deficit to 5-4. Fleming struck out Luca Tresh for the second out, and then gave up a two-run infield single to lose the lead.
“Going into the ninth … Willy has battled for us, with him coming on I always have as much confidence in him than anything,” Seymour said. “He battled, he kept battling. A couple of plays didn’t go our way.”
Sophomore lefty Jared Shuster got the starting nod for the Deacons and pitched into the fourth without allowing a run. He stranded the bases loaded in the first, and was relieved by Bobby Hearn in the fourth with runners on second and third.
Hearn walked the first batter he faced and then struck out Will Wilson, who ended the regular season second in the ACC in total bases per game behind Wake Forest’s Chris Lanzilli. The strikeout elicited an emotional reaction from Hearn, pumping his fist and screaming at the Deacons’ dugout as he walked off the field.
Wake Forest jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the early innings for the second straight game here in Durham.
First, DJ Poteet singled through the right side of the infield to drive in Shane Muntz and Michael Ludowig — who was called safe on a strange play at the plate. The throw beat Ludowig to the plate, and he popped up from his slide and was tagged by catcher Bailey before touching the plate. But Bailey dropped the ball, and after a replay review the call on the field was upheld.
Additional Deacons runs in the inning came on a throwing error by Bailey and a sacrifice fly by Michael Turconi.
It remained a four-run lead until the seventh, when errors by Logan Harvey and Patrick Frick put runners at the corners with nobody out. Tyler Witt entered after Carter Bach walked the only batter he faced to load the bases, and Witt induced a 6-4-3 double play on his first pitch. He gave up an RBI double on the next batter, but was able to guide the Deacons out of the inning with their lead only sliced in half.
Wake Forest mounted something of a response in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out and getting one of those unearned runs back on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Ludowig.