Offense Shines in 11-3 Win in NCAA Opener
June 2, 2017

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By Wake Forest Athletic Communications (@WakeBaseball)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - No. 13-ranked and top-seeded Wake Forest opened NCAA Tournament play Friday evening with an 11-3 victory over UMBC at David F. Couch Ballpark.

Hosting a regional for the third time in program history and the first time since 2002, Wake Forest (40-18) pounded out 14 hits and used a pair of innings of scoring four or more runs to top the Retrievers (23-24) in opening round play.

Wake Forest advances into the winner's bracket and will play No. 2 seed West Virginia on Saturday at 7 p.m., after the Mountaineers beat Maryland in their opener.

Connor Johnstone fell one strikeout shy of matching his career high as the senior punched out seven batters over 7.2 innings of work. Johnstone scattered 10 hits while only walking one and allowing three runs, two earned. The senior improves to 8-0 on the season with the decision.

Six Demon Deacons recorded RBIs, led by Jake Mueller's three on two hits. Stuart Fairchild went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Gavin Sheets led off the second inning with a single up the middle before a ground-rule double by Ben Breazeale put runners on second and third with nobody out. Johnny Aiello grounded out to the shortstop, driving in the first run of the game.

Bruce Steel then rocketed a line drive that bounced in and out of the glove of the Retrievers' starting pitcher, Michael Austin. Austin's throw to first sailed wide, allowing Breazeale to score and Steel to advance to second, pushing the Demon Deacon lead to 2-0.

A pair of back-to-back walks loaded the bases with two outs, bringing Mueller to the plate. The sophomore cleared the bases with a double down the right field line, extending the advantage to 5-0 in favor of the Deacs. Fairchild followed with an RBI double of his own, capping a six-run inning for the regional hosts.

UMBC countered with a pair of runs in the top on of the third on a two-run shot from Andrew Casali, his third of the season. The visitors then trimmed the Wake Forest lead to three, adding a run in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly.

The Retrievers could have cut into the lead even more, but a pickoff by Breazeale at first and Keegan Maronpot throwing out a runner at home from right field ended the threat.

Back-to-back singles by Steel and Maronpot, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Logan Harvey had the Demon Deacons back in scoring position to open the home half of the sixth. Jonathan Pryor delivered a two-run single, extending Wake Forest's lead to 8-3. A Mueller single, Fairchild RBI double and Gavin Sheets sacrifice fly capped the four-run sixth, a 10-3 advantage.

The Deacs tacked on another run in the seventh on a Harvey RBI single.

Morgan McSweeney came on in relief and recorded the final four outs of the game with a pair of strikeouts.

The Demon Deacons will now face West Virginia in the winner's bracket on Saturday, June 3, at 7 p.m. while UMBC and Maryland will play in an elimination game at 2 p.m.

Fans Pack The Couch
• A total of 2,743 ticketed fans were in attendance for Friday's evening, the most since the Demon Deacons moved into the ballpark permanently in 2009.

Deacs Hit 40-Win Mark
• The Demon Deacons improved to 40-18 on the season following Friday's victory.
• It marks the first 40-win season for Wake Forest since the 2002 season.
• It is the sixth time in program history in which the Demon Deacons have won 40 or more games.

Back at Home
• For the first time in 15 years, the Demon Deacons are hosting a regional as play began Friday.
• It is the third time Winston-Salem has played host to a postseason regional at what is now known as David F. Couch Ballpark.
• With Friday's win the Deacs are now 6-3 in regional games played in Winston-Salem and improve to 39-25 overall in NCAA Tournament play.

Bats Come Alive
• Wake Forest had a pair of big innings, scoring six runs in the second and four in the sixth.
• It is the ninth time this season that the Demon Deacons have tallied two or more big innings (four or more runs) in a single game. Wake Forest is 9-0 in those games



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