Pitching Staff Leads Deacons to 4-3 Defeat of No. 19 Coastal Carolina
April 11, 2007
CONWAY, S.C. - Ben Hunter was solid in the first start of his Wake Forest career, and relievers Eric Niesen and Josh Ellis combined to shut the door at the end to send the Demon Deacons to a 4-3 defeat of No. 19-ranked Coastal Carolina on a rain-soaked Wednesday evening at Watson Stadium.
The win was Wake's fifth straight and sixth in its last seven games, moving the Deacons to 20-16 overall. The Chanticleers, who have now dropped three straight, fall to 28-6 on the year. It was the first time in 24 home games this season that Coastal has lost at Watson Stadium.
Hunter (4-5) earned the win in his first start in almost two years. He went a season-high five innings, allowing two runs on six hits. The junior righthander struck out three and walked three. An All-American closer for the Deacs after transferring from Furman prior to the 2006 campaign, Hunter was making the first start of his Wake Forest career. His last start came in 2005 when he was a freshman at Furman.
Niesen and Ellis were almost untouchable as Wake Forest clung to its one-run lead late in the game. Niesen came on with runners at the corners and one out in the seventh inning. The lefty ended the threat, needing just eight pitches to strike out the next two Chanticleers.
Ellis relieved Niesen with one on and two outs in the eighth. The righthanded closer struck out pinch hitter David Anderson on three pitches to end the eighth.
Coastal then put together a rally in the ninth, as Derek Martin led off the frame with a single. Martin moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then to third on a passed ball. With one out and the tying run just 90 feet away, Ellis battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out Adam Vrable. He then got David Sappelt looking to end the game.
Ellis earned his sixth save of the season. He and Niesen combined to strike out six batters in 2 2/3 innings.
Wake Forest staked Hunter to an early lead, manufacturing a run off Coastal starter Nick McCally in the first inning. Brett Linnenkohl singled on the first pitch of the game and then moved to second on Ben Terry's sacrifice bunt. Allan Dykstra advanced Linnenkohl to third with a groundout. Michael Murray came through with a single to center, giving the Deacs a 1-0 lead.
Coastal Carolina threatened in its half of the first, loading the bases with two outs, but could not come away with a run.
The Deacons left the bases loaded in the second and left two on in the third but came away empty-handed both times. Wake Forest left a combined seven runners on base over the first three innings.
The Chanticleers took the lead with two runs in the third. Hunter hit Dom Duggan to lead off the inning, and Chris Raber followed with a single. After the runners each moved up a base on a groundout, Matt Rademacher brought home Coastal's first run with an RBI groundout. Dock Doyle drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single through the right side.
Wake quickly re-gained the lead with three runs in the fourth. Andy Goff and Linnenkohl led off with back-to-back singles and then moved up on an errant pickoff attempt by the Chanticleer catcher. Terry laced a single to center that centerfielder misplayed on the slick turf. Goff and Linnenkohl both came in to score on Terry's hit, and Terry made it all the way to third on the error. Dykstra finished the rally by driving in Terry with a sacrifice fly.
Coastal Carolina threatened in the fifth, putting two on with no outs, but Hunter worked his way out of the jam with no runs coming across. Hunter spoiled a would-be sacrifice bunt, getting the lead runner at third for the first out. Smith then made a nice stop at third to steal a sure base hit and get the new lead runner at third. Hunter struck out Adam Vrable looking to end the inning.
Reliever Phil Negus came on to start the sixth for the Deacons. Coastal's David Sappelt gave Negus a rude greeting, hitting the second pitch he saw over the fence in leftfield to cut the Wake Forest lead to 4-3.
That was as close as the Chanticleers would get, despite out-hitting the Demon Deacons. Coastal Carolina stranded 15 runners on base for the game.
Linnenkohl and Murray each had multi-hit nights to lead the Deacon hitters. Linnenkohl went 2-for-5 with two runs, while Murray was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Terry drove in two runs, and Dykstra accounted for the fourth RBI. Goff's fourth-inning single extended his hitting streak to six games.
Wake Forest had nine hits on the night, all singles. The only extra-base hit in the game was Sappelt's solo home run in the sixth.
Negus worked one inning on the night, allowing one run on two hits with one strikeout. Garrett Bullock, who pitched just 1/3 innings, recorded his ACC-leading ninth pickoff of the season.
McCally (2-1) took the loss for Coastal. McCally went five innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits. The righthander struck out three and walked one.
Coastal held Wake scoreless over the final five innings, retiring nine of the final 10 Deacon hitters in order.
The two teams combined to hit seven batters. Wake Forest hit four Chanticleers, three of them by Hunter, while Coastal Carolina hit three Deacons on the night.
Wake Forest returns home to face No. 14-ranked Clemson in a three-game ACC series at Hooks Stadium this weekend. Friday's first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday's first pitch is 2 p.m., and Sunday's is at 1 p.m.