Jones' Walk-Off Home Run Lifts Deacons To 12-10 Win Over Miami
May 12, 2007
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Wake Forest junior Austin Jones entered Saturday's game against Miami in subtle fashion, but left with perhaps the biggest swing of the Demon Deacon baseball season. His two-out, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Wake Forest a 12-10 win over the Hurricanes at Hooks Stadium.
Jones came into the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner, took over at catcher in the ninth, then made his first plate appearance of the series with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He belted Miami reliever Michael Rudman's offering into the trees in left field, much to the delight of 1,107 fans at Hooks Stadium.
Wake Forest improved to 29-23 overall, 12-14 in the ACC. Miami fell to 31-20 and 13-13. The final game of the three-game series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday. Earlier Saturday, Miami completed a suspended game with a 9-8 win over the Deacons in 14 innings.
Jones' heroics came just when it appeared that Miami had stolen the momentum and the series was heading for its second straight extra-inning affair.
In the bottomof the 10th inning, Wake's Andy Goff led off the inning with a single off of Rudman (0-1). Goff, however, made a crucial baserunning error when he was picked off first base. After Tyler Smith walked, Rudman got Evan Ocheltree to fly out for the second out, setting the stage for Jones, who hit his third home run of the season.
Deacon reliever Josh Ellis (5-2) earned the victory after pitching the final two innings. Ellis entered the game in the eighth inning with the score tied, 7-7.
Ellis surrendered two self-inflicted runs in the eighth. He hit two batters and made a throwing error as Miami took a 9-7 lead.
Ellis was off the hook, however, when his teammates rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 10-9 lead. With one out, Ocheltree, pinch-hitter Weldon Woodall and Brett Linnenkohl hit back-to-back-to-back singles, the third of which scored Ocheltree. Woodall later scored on a fielder's choice to tie the score, 9-9. Linnenkohl scored the go-ahead run on a swinging bunt by Fox.
Miami managed to even the score again, this time at 10-10, after the Hurricanes manufactured a run in the top of the ninth inning.
Miami's Sobolewski reached first with two outs on a fielder's choice. He stole second base, then scored the tying run on a line-drive single by pinch-hitter Dave DiNatale.
The game was a see-saw affair all afternoon. Wake Forest got on the board early. Ben Terry, who singled with one out, scored all the way from first base on a double by Allan Dykstra to give the Deacons a 1-0 lead.
Miami took the lead in the second inning off of Deacon starter Brad Kledzik. Richard O'Brien, who belted a grand slam in the first game of the series, hit a two-out. two-run double to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 advantage.
O'Brien, who entered the series batting .221, was instrumental in Miami taking a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning. Mark Sobolewski led off the inning with a double, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on O'Brien's sac fly -- his seventh RBI in two days.
Miami starter Eric Erickson (8-3) baffled Deacon batters all day and nearly picked up two wins in one day. Erickson got the win in Game 1, pitching the last three innings of a suspended game won by the Hurricanes, 9-8 in 14 innings. The `Cane southpaw gave up a run on two hits in the first inning of Game 2 before retiring 14 of the next 15 Wake Forest batters.
The Hurricanes reluctantly went to the bullpen in the sixth inning, subbing for Erickson after he had thrown nearly 100 pitches on the day. With Erickson out of the game, Wake Forest knocked around two Hurricane relievers in the bottom of the sixth for four runs on four hits to take a 5-3 lead. All four Deacon hits in the inning were singles, two of which were bunts.
The Deacons did most of their damage off of reliever David Gutierrez and with two outs. Linnenkohl walked, Terry had a bunt single, then Allan Dykstra walked to load the bases against Gutierrez. One out later, Dustin Hood singled home a run, then Goff singled home a run, sending Tugierrez to the showers. Manny Miguelez took over on the mound and he was greeted by a perfectly executed safety-squeeze by Tyler Smith, pushing Willy Fox home for Wake's third run of the inning. Hood gave the Deacons a brief 5-3 lead when he scored on a fielder's choice.
Miami did not stay down for long. In the seventh inning, the Hurricanes erupted for four runs of their own, using three extra base hits including a three-run home run by Yonder Alonso to take a 7-5 lead.
In the bottom half of the seventh, the Deacons manufactured two runs of their own to knot the score at 7-7.
Facing Dennis Raben, UM's full-time right fielder and part-time reliever, Linnenkohl was hit by a pitch and Terry walked to give the Deacons a pair of baserunners with no one out. That is when Wake's Dykstra hit what may have been the longest (approximately 369 feet) single in Hooks Stadium history, clanging off the top of the wall in right-center. The Deacon baserunners, holding in case the ball was caught, advanced only one base to give WFU a bases-loaded situation with no outs.
Linnenkohl scored when Miami turned a double play on a Fox grounder, then Terry scored when Dustin Hood hit a clutch double to tie the score, 7-7.
Sunday's game will be the final home game of the season for the Deacons, who close out the regular season May 17-19 at Virginia Tech. Wake Forest is battling for one of eight spots in the ACC Tournament May 23-27 in Jacksonville, Fla.