Wake Forest Opens Final Weekend at Hooks Stadium With 7-3 Defeat of Duke
May 9, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Ben Hunter had just about everything working for the Demon Deacons on Friday, as he pitched Wake Forest to a 7-3 defeat of Duke in the opening game of the final weekend at Hooks Stadium.
Hunter's outing and some timely hitting sent the Deacons to their fourth-straight victory, which stands as Wake's long winning streak of the season. The Deacs improve to 20-27 overall and 9-15 in the ACC with the win. More importantly, Wake moved ahead of Duke for the eighth and final spot in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils, who had their five-game winning streak snapped, dropped to 34-15-1 overall and 8-15-1 in conference play with the loss.
Hunter (3-5) picked up the win for Wake Forest with 7 1/3 innings of work. The senior righthander made his final outing at Hooks Stadium count, as he allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter. Hunter was perfect through the initial 3 1/3 innings, retiring each of the first 10 batters in order before giving up a single to Matt Williams with one out in the fourth.
"I threw a lot of sliders for a first pitch strike and also 1-0 strikes to get even in the count," said Hunter about his outing. "Locating my off-speed pitches for strikes was really key today. I felt like I stayed ahead for most of the day, and that was a big part of keeping them off balance. I've felt my release point with my slider in the last four or five starts. When I can feel like that, I have confidence I can throw it in any count and that kind of builds on itself.
"I have a lot of good memories at this field, so it's nice to go out on a good start. The school's done a lot for me, so I'm glad I could help make the last weekend a good one."
Hunter's pitching performance was not the only story on the day, as the Deacon hitters came through at the plate. Allan Dykstra, Dustin Hood and Mike Murray drove in two runs apiece to lead Wake. Hood finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while Evan Ocheltree turned in the only other multi-hit performance by going 2-for-4.
Willy Fox and Andy Goff scored twice each, while Murray extended his hitting streak to six games. Murray has had a hit in 19 of his last 20 contests. Ocheltree and Steven Brooks moved their respective hitting streaks to five games.
Dykstra tied the Wake Forest single-season record for walks with a free pass in the third inning. He set the record of 57 last season and co-holds it with Matt Antonelli (2005). Dykstra currently leads the country in walks.
Relievers Alex Wiesner and Phil Negus closed out the game for the Deacons. Wiesner came on in relief of Hunter in the eighth and got Wake out of a jam with its lead still intact. Negus pitched a perfect ninth inning but did not qualify for a save.
The three Deacon pitchers combined to strike out nine batters against no walks. It was the second time this season that the Deacs have not walked a single batter in a game (March 1 at Troy).
Wake Forest took the early lead on Friday by manufacturing a pair of runs in the first inning. Ben Terry led off with a walk, and Fox then reached on a hit by pitch. After Terry moved to third on Dykstra's deep flyout, Murray drove in the lead runner with an RBI groundout. Hood followed with a two-out single up the middle to score Fox from second. Ocheltree then doubled down the leftfield line, but Hood was thrown out at home trying to score on the play.
After going scoreless over the first four innings, Duke got on the board with a run in the fifth. Jonathan Nicolla reached on a one-out single and moved to third on Ryan McCurdy's bloop double to left. Jake Lemmerman cashed the run in with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Deacons got the run back in their half of the fifth. Goff led off with a single and then made it all the way to third when the Duke shortstop bobbled a grounder off the bat of Terry. Fox hit a sacrifice fly to left to drive in Goff with an unearned run.
Wake Forest pushed across four runs in the seventh to open up a 7-1 lead. Tyler Smith led off with a four-pitch walk, and Goff reached on a hit by pitch to chase Duke starter Andrew Wolcott. After the runners moved up on Terry's sacrifice bunt, Fox loaded the bases with a full-count walk against reliever Michael Ness. Ness then got ahead of Dykstra 0-2, but the Deacon slugger dumped the next pitch into shallow center for a two-run single. Murray followed by lacing a double to right center to score Fox and move Dykstra to third. Hood capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right.
Duke fought back with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Alex Hassan started the rally with a one-out double to right center. Terry almost made a spectacular diving catch on the play, but the ball popped out of his glove as he hit the ground. After Williams reached on a Deacon throwing error, Nate Freiman chopped a single through the left side to score Hassan. Wake then went to lefty reliever Wiesner. Jeremy Gould greeted Wiesner with a double into the leftfield corner to plate Williams and put runners at second and third. Wiesner quickly rebounded to end the inning with a popout and a strikeout.
The Blue Devils did not threaten in the ninth, as Negus sent them down in order.
Wolcott (3-4) took the loss for Duke. The righthander went 6+ innings, giving up five runs (four eanred) on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Ness pitched the final two frames, surrendering two runs on three hits and a walk.
Freiman, Gould and Lemmerman drove in a run apiece to lead the Blue Devils at the plate.
Wake Forest and Duke will play game two of the weekend series on Saturday. RHP Charlie Mellies (2-5, 6.22) is scheduled to start for the Deacons, while LHP Chris Manno (6-0, 2.61) will take the mound for the Blue Devils. Wake Forest will honor Dr. Gene Hooks, the namesake of the stadium, prior to Saturday's game. The ceremony will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m., with first pitch set for 1 p.m.