This one was right there for Wake Forest’s baseball team to bounce back after dropping its ACC opener.
That place was winning the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Notre Dame and taking a three-run lead to the ninth inning in the second game.
Instead, Wake Forest saw another game roll away.
“We’re on roller skates right now. We’re not playing good baseball. We’re still kind of just hoping to win instead of expecting to win,” Coach Tom Walter said after the Deacons’ 8-7 loss in 10 innings at David F. Couch Ballpark. “I think we still have too many guys that are kind of waiting for bad things to happen and that’s something we need to grow out of.”
Those bad things in the ninth saw Antonio Menendez, who entered the weekend with the best ERA on the team at 1.08, give up a walk and a single. Tyler Witt walked two batters and was helped out by a fielder’s choice to right fielder Michael Ludowig, and then Eric Gilgenbach hit a game-tying, two-run single off of Shane Muntz.
“Probably could’ve handled the pitching different in the ninth, might have started (freshman Ryan) Cusick if I had a do-over, or even went to Witt,” Walter said. “But again, we’ve gotta throw strikes. Hopefully we’ll steal one of these back here down the line that we didn’t deserve to win.”
The bad things in the 10th were Muntz plunking Brooks Coetzee to start the inning — the sound seemed like it hit Coetzee’s bat, but replay review was inconclusive, Walter said — and Coetzee eventually scoring on a fielder’s choice. On that play, shortstop Patrick Frick threw home to catcher Brendan Tinsman, but he had slipped on the plate and was unable to make a tag.
As was the case in the ninth, Wake Forest batters went down in order in the 10th against freshman Mitch Megias, who had pitched two innings this season before Sunday’s game.
The loss puts Wake Forest at 9-8 overall and 1-2 to begin its ACC schedule. It’s a long way from being the regional host team that it thought it could be — and still could wind up being — before the season started.
“Yeah, it’s not good. We wanted to come out after (Saturday), after the loss and … get two wins,” sophomore first baseman Bobby Seymour said. “We had an opportunity to do that and it didn’t fall our way. We’re going to come back at it next week and I think we’ll be all right.”
The Deacons came from down two to up three in the second game. Notre Dame led 4-2 after the fifth. Wake Forest cut the lead in half on Seymour’s two-out double in the bottom of that inning, and then scratched across three runs in the sixth on two hits — including Muntz’s leadoff, awkward, infield single — three walks, a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch.
DJ Poteet’s two-out single in the seventh drove in Chris Lanzilli, who led off the inning with a double, and put the Deacons up 7-4.
Notre Dame had one baserunner from the sixth through eighth, with three pitchers working those innings — Morgan McSweeney finishing his six-inning start, Bobby Hearn breezing through the seventh and then Menendez entering to attempt a two-inning save.
“I think we need to have a game where we come back and win. This could have been a good one for that,” Walter said.
In the first game of the day, Wake Forest broke a tie with Seymour’s RBI groundout in the seventh and added a couple of insurance runs in the eighth for a 7-4 win.
William Fleming picked up the win for the Deacons, allowing just one baserunner in his three innings of work.
The Deacons took an early lead on Tinsman’s three-run double in the first. Notre Dame tied it at 3-3, Wake Forest went back ahead and the Irish tied it again at 4-4 in the fifth.