Wake Opens Regional with Easy Win

May 28, 1999

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Jon Palmieri hit a grand slam in the second inning and Wake Forest poured it on in the middle frames to cruise past Siena 22-4 in the opening round of the NCAA baseball tournament Friday night.

The top-seeded Demon Deacons (45-13) will play second-seeded Richmond in Saturday's winner's bracket, while the Saints saw their season-high seven-game winning streak snapped and will take on Virginia Tech in the loser's side of the draw.

Wake Forest batted around four times in the first seven innings and every player in the starting lineup scored at least once. Palmieri was 4-for-7 with seven RBI, and he and Jason Aquilante each crossed the plate four times.

Siena (34-21) was making its first-ever NCAA tourney appearance, but the Saints fell into a hole early as Wake Forest won its 14th straight.

I think a lot of guys were nervous, actually shocked at the size of the crowd we played in front of,'' Siena star Todd Donovan said of 5,073 fans at Ernie Shore Field, the minor-league home of the Carolina League Winston-Salem Warthogs.

The two-time defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions jumped on Siena starter and loser Dave Pahucki for five runs in the second inning thanks to Palmieri's 18th homer of the season. The freshman came into the game undefeated at 9-0, but was wild from the start, plunking three Wake Forest hitters in the opening four innings.

Jon happened to get a ball up and hit it out with the bases loaded and that kind of set the tone for the game,'' said Wake Forest coach George Greer.

I thought it was gone when I hit it, he left a changeup hanging,'' said Palmieri, who became the school's all-time RBI leader with 238. We hadn't played here too much so I wasn't sure how the ball would carry.''

Meanwhile, Wake Forest ace John Hendricks was cruising and faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings before running into control problems of his own as the Saints scored three runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to close to 5-4.

But Corey Slavik led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer and the Demon Deacons were able to rough up Pahucki for an additional five runs as Scott Daeley had an RBI double, while Palmieri, Danny Borrell and Andrew Riepe added RBI singles as Wake Forest took an 11-4 lead.

To tell you the truth, we were shocked, as bad as that sounds,'' Donovan said when asked how the Siena dugout felt being a run behind the powerful Demon Deacons. They started 5-0 and I guess that's the way it was supposed to happen, the way everybody thought it would happen.

When the score became 5-4 I think we were like, Holy cow, we're in this game.'''

The Saints got their first two men on in the top of the sixth, but Ryan Finn was picked off second by Riepe and Sean Dougherty bounced into an inning-ending double play.

Wake Forest then added seven more runs in the bottom of the inning off reliever Jason Kiser and the rout was on.

The victory by Hendricks (10-5) gave Wake Forest three 10-game winners for the first time in school history.