Deacons Beat Panthers in 14-Inning Marathon
April 9, 2013
By Steven Wright, Wake Forest Athletic Communications (@WakeBaseball)
HIGH POINT, N.C. - Just past the four-hour mark of the game, Wake Forest scored four runs in the top of the 14th inning to break a 7-7 tie and defeat High Point 11-7 on Tuesday night at Williard Stadium. Joey Rodriguez scored the game-winning run from third on a passed ball, and Jack Carey followed with a three-run homer to seal the victory.
After six straight scoreless innings, the Demon Deacons were finally able to break through. Charlie Morgan led off the 14th with a single and Rodriguez came on as a pinch runner. Matt Conway followed with a single and Luke Czajkowski was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs.
Carey came on as a pinch hitter to face left hander Mike Krumm, but High Point countered with right hander Kyle Wigmore. A wild pitch allowed Rodriguez to score, and Carey smashed his fifth home run of the season to left center field to bring home three.
Niko Spezial (2-0) finished it off in the bottom of the 14th to earn his second win of the season. He pitched 3.0 innings without surrendering a run.
Wake Forest improved to 18-17 overall, while High Point fell to 15-18. The game was the longest Wake Forest has played since losing a 14-inning affair at home against Miami 9-8 on May 11, 2007. In addition, the Demon Deacons had not belted 20 hits since doing so at UNCG on May 12, 2010.
Aaron Fossas turned in the most impressive performance on the mound for the Demon Deacons, going a career-high 4.1 innings and giving up just one hit and one walk. He came on with two outs in the seventh and surrendered a hit to the first batter he faced. After that, Fossas retired seven straight batters, gave up a leadoff walk in the 10th and then recorded six more outs in a row to get the Deacs through the 11th. He had previously only pitched 4.0 innings in his career.
Morgan and Conway were forces in the middle of the Deacon order, going 4-for-6 and 3-for-6, respectively. The game was the first four-hit affair in Morgan's career, while Conway picked up a pair of doubles and scored two runs.
The Panthers were able to take a 2-0 lead with one run in the first and another in the third. Starting pitcher Ryan Retz picked up both RBIs by driving in Devin Bujnovsky each time with a double in the first and a single in the third.
The top of the fourth proved important for the Demon Deacons, as Morgan singled and Conway walked to get things started. Two batters later Kevin Jordan laced a double down the right field line to bring home Morgan, and Armour followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left field to bring home Conway.
High Point recaptured a two-run lead on a two-run double by Cody Manzella in the bottom of the fifth, but Wake Forest answered by batting around and scoring five runs in the top of the sixth.
The first six batters of the sixth inning reached for the Deacs. Conway led off with a double to right center and moved to third on a Luke Czajkowski single. Jordan was then hit by a pitch, and Armour moved everyone up a base with an RBI single to right.
Rhine gave Wake Forest its first lead of the game at 5-4 when smoked a double to the left center field gap to score Czajkowski and Jordan. Stephens then bunted for a hit to score Armour and make the game 6-4. The Demon Deacons' final run of the inning came on an RBI single by Pat Blair to give Wake Forest a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
High Point chipped away, though, and scored one in the bottom of the sixth and two in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 7-7. That is where the game would stay until the top of the 14th inning.
Both teams had a golden opportunity in the 13th inning, but the respective defenses made game-saving plays. In the top of the 13th with Stephens on third, Blair lifted a fly ball to shallow center, but Dane McDermott was able to make the catch and fire home in time to get a tagging Stephens at the plate.
High Point then loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning with just one out. Dominic Fazio hit a slow chopper between short and third. Blair made the backhanded stop, fired across his body to Andrew Williams at second for one out and Williams fired a laser to a stretching Morgan at first to keep the Deacs alive and set up the 14th-inning dramatics.
Wake Forest and High Point will be right back in action tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Gene Hooks Field at Wake Forest Baseball Park.