Wake Forest Set to Host UNC Wilmington for Weekend Series
March 1, 2007
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Wake Forest will welcome in-state rival UNC Wilmington to town for a weekend series at Hooks Stadium on the campus of Wake Forest University. The three-game series will run March 2-4. The Deacs (5-3) enter the game against the Seahawks (5-7) riding a two-game winning streak after winning on Sunday at No. 18 San Diego, 5-3, and then rallying to beat Charlotte, 9-7, on Tuesday afternoon. Friday's game will be the second game of an 11-game homestand for the Deacons
UNCW INSIDER -- UNCW enters the series with Wake having lost two in a row, most recently to No. 20 NC State on Tuesday. The Seahawks began the season losing their first four games, then won their next three against Temple. They are in the midst of a seven-game road trip that will finish up on Tuesday at Elon, a stretch that has included a 10-5 win over No. 18 TCU on Feb. 24. The Seahawks entered the season picked to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association's preseason poll. UNCW garnered 86 points, just two behind favorite Virginia Commonwealth. The Seahawks are led in the lineup by infielder Steve Halford, who is batting .367 with 18 hits and 10 RBIs through their first 12 games. On the mound, RHP Ryan Doolittle will get the nod to open the series. He will be making his second start of the young season.
ON DECK -- After the Demon Deacons' weekend series with the Seahawks, they will stay at Hooks Stadium for two mid-week games against Gardner-Webb (March 6) and High Point (March 7) before opening up conference play with a three-game series against Virginia (March 9-11).
RANKINGS -- Neither Wake Forest nor UNC Wilmington is ranked.
SAN DIEGO LEFTOVERS --
Travelling to the west coast allowed sophomore Allan Dykstra to return to his hometown for the series against the Toreros. He started off the weekend by breaking up the Torero no-hitter on Friday, a single that turned out to be the Deacons' only hit. The first baseman followed that up by hitting home runs in each of the next two games and ended the weekend batting .400 with four hits, four RBIs and the two home runs.
POWER ALLEY -- After finishing third on the team with six home runs in 2006, sophomore Evan Ocheltree is already well on his way to surpassing that total. In addition to the Richmond, Va., native's solo blasts against Kent State on Feb. 17 and 18, Ocheltree hit the game-winning home run in the top of the ninth against San Diego on Feb. 25 to give him three homers through the first eight games. Sophomore Allan Dykstra, the ACC's second-leading home run hitter in 2006, hit his first of the year in the sixth inning against Appalachian State on Feb. 20 and followed that by hitting two more over the weekend series at San Diego. Junior Brett Linnenkohl also hit a homer against the Appalachian State, his second of the year. Additionally, sophomore Tyler Smith hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 10th inning against Charlotte in his first at-bat of the season.
HOT START -- Even though they fell to Appalachian State in its fourth game, Wake still got off to one of its best starts in recent memory. Sweeping Kent State started 2007 season with a 3-0 record for the first time since the 1998 and 2001 seasons, also the years of two of Wake's last three ACC Championships.
STRONG OUT OF THE GATES... -- Of the 51 total runs Wake has scored through its first eight games, a whopping 19 of them have come in the first inning (37%). In fact, the Deacs scored five runs in the first inning of their second game of the season against Kent State, batting around in the inning.
...A LITTLE SLOWER DOWN THE STRETCH -- Only seven of the Deacs' 51 runs have come in the game's final two innings (or extra innings). Three of those runs came in Wake's ninth-inning, game-winning rally against Kent State in the season opener. Two more came in their extra-inning, 9-7 victory over Charlotte (Feb. 27). This frustrating trend has seen Wake build early leads only to allow opponents to crawl back into contention over the course of the rest of the game.
HITTING STREAKS -- Through the first eight games of the season, three Deacs have hitting streaks of at least three games. Sophomore Allan Dykstra has reached safely in all eight games and was also the only Deacon to get a hit in the team's 2-0 loss in the series opener against San Diego. Juniors Eric Williams and Willy Fox each own three-game streaks.
CARDIAC DEACS -- Wake has given its fans much to be excited--and nervous--about through its first eight games, having tallied three late-inning comebacks.
APP STATE LEFTOVERS --
DEACON DEBUT -- Junior Willy Fox led the team with a .556 average and five RBIs in Wake's three wins over the Golden Flashes. Playing in his first game in a Deacon uniform, the transfer from Arizona State also fell just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle on Friday, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs in the game.
PICKING UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF -- Junior closer Ben Hunter continued his strong play from 2006, coming in to earn two saves in the second and third games of the Kent State series. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native came on in the ninth on Saturday, Feb. 17, with two outs and the bases loaded and got a fly-out to left to end the game on the first batter he saw. On Sunday, Feb. 18, Hunter worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out the final two batters to preserve the victory. He did not allow a single baserunner on the weekend. The right hander led the Deacs with 14 saves in 2006.
OPENING IT UP -- Wake Forest opened the 2007 season with a series sweep against Kent State... the three-game series ran Feb. 16-18 at Hooks Stadium on the Wake Forest campus... the Demon Deacons and Golden Flashes met for the first time since the 1997 season.
OPENING WEEKENDS -- Wake Forest's 8-7 victory over Kent State in the opener was the first victory in its season opener since 2003... the Deacons lost to Rice to open 2004, Winthrop in 2005 and Charlotte last season... the 2006 opener against the 49ers was the first time the Deacs opened a season with a series (not tournament or individual game) since 1999 when they took two of three from Evansville... dating back to the 1958 season (the last 50 years), Wake Forest is 31-20 on opening day... Wake Forest has won four of its last five opening weekend series dating back to 1994 and has gone 13-13 on the first weekend of the season all-time in series... the Demon Deacons are 1-2 under Rick Rembielak on opening day and Rembielak is 7-7 all-time in his career.
REMBIELAK TO FACE OLD TEAM -- Head coach Rick Rembielak saw a familiar opponent in the Deacs' opening series against the Golden Flashes. He was an assistant coach with Kent State from 1988-93 and then its head coach from 1994-2004. "Coach Rem" left Kent, Ohio, with a 373-251-1 (.598) record and led the squad to the NCAA Regionals four times.
HUNTER NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN -- Wake Forest junior closer Ben Hunter was named a second team Preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger and Rivals.com. Hunter was also named to the preseason watch lists for the Stopper of the Year and Roger Clemens Awards. In 2006, Hunter went 1-2 with a 1.47 earned run average and 14 saves in 33 relief appearances. The 14 saves and 11.54 strikeouts per nine innings not only led the ACC, but also ranked sixth and 10th in those same categories nationally. Hunter was second in the ACC in ERA (fifth in the NCAA) and third in opponents batting average of .193. The Cincinnati, Ohio native was 14-for-15 in save opportunities. Hunter struck out a team-best 70 and walked just 17 in 55.0 innings of work. The 14 saves are the most for a Wake Forest pitcher since former All-American Dave Bush had 16 in 2001 and ranks tied for the second-most in single-season school history.
DEMON DEACONS RETURN SIX STARTERS -- Wake Forest returns six position starters from last year's team. Sophomore Allan Dykstra, the only returner to start all 55 games in 2006, is back at first base. Also back are fellow sophomores Evan Ocheltree (RF) and Dustin Hood (SS) and junior Andy Goff (2B). Behind the plate, senior Dan Rosaia and junior Austin Jones will again split time at catcher, and junior Eric Williams is back in centerfield. Junior Brett Linnenkohl, who missed some time with a hamstring but started 20 games in 2006, will begin the year in left field.
ARM(ED) SERVICES -- Wake Forest returns six pitchers that recorded 40 or more IP last season, including five hurlers with 50 or more IP. That does not include redshirt junior Charlie Mellies, who will return to the lineup in 2007 after missing much of 2006 after undergoing elbow surgery. Sophomore Brad Kledzik, junior Eric Niesen and sophomore Garrett Bullock anchor the starting rotation to begin the year. Junior Ben Hunter returns as one the top closer's in the country and will be looked upon for similar results in 2007.
DEACONS TO HAVE 32 HOME DATES IN 2007 -- Wake Forest will play 32 games within the "friendly confines" of Hooks Stadium during the 2007 season, starting with Kent State on Feb. 16. Other non-conference teams slated to visit Winston-Salem this season are: Appalachian State (Feb. 20), Charlotte (Feb. 27), UNC Wilmington (March 2-4), Gardner-Webb (March 6), Ball State (March 13-14), Ohio (March 20), Winthrop (March 28), UNC-Greensboro (April 10) and Coastal Carolina (April 18). The Demon Deacons are scheduled to open their ACC schedule at home for the second straight year, starting with a three-game series against Virginia (March 9-11). Wake Forest will also host ACC foes NC State (March 23-25), Clemson (April 13-April 15), Duke (April 27-29) and Miami (May 11-13).
DEACONS PICKED TO FINISH EIGHTH BY ACC COACHES -- Wake Forest was picked to finish fourth in the ACC Atlantic Division in the preseason poll. In a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, the Demon Deacons received 40 points in the poll. Clemson was tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic, while 2006 College World Series runner-up North Carolina was picked to win the Coastal Division. Clemson was also voted as the favorite to capture the ACC Tournament title.
DEACONS IN THE MAJORS -- During the history of Wake Forest baseball, a total of 32 former players have made it to the majors. The 2006 MLB draft saw All-American Matt Antonelli go 17th overall to the San Diego Padres. Antonelli was the fourth Demon Deacon in school history to be chosen in the first round and the program's first-ever position player. Detroit drafted Kyle Sleeth 3rd overall in 2003, Kansas City drafted Mike MacDougal 25th overall in 1999 and St. Louis took Bret Wagner 19th overall in 1994. Jamie D'Antona, second round and 66th overall pick of Arizona, was the highest previously drafted Wake Forest position player.
GAME ONE STARTER -- #27 So., RHP Brad Kledzik (0-1, 5.40 ERA). Kledzik made his second start of the season in the opening game of the San Diego series (Feb. 23)... had a no decision in the 2-0 loss, allowing five hits, two runs, three walks while punching out six batters in 6.0 innings.
VS. THE SEAHAWKS...
GAME TWO STARTER -- #24 Jr., LHP Eric Niesen (1-0, 4.05 ERA). Niesen made his last start on Feb. 24 at San Diego... had a no decision in the Deacs' 5-4 loss to the Toreros... allowed six hits, two runs and one walk while striking out three batters in 7.0 innings.
VS. THE SEAHAWKS...
GAME THREE STARTER -- #17 So., LHP Garrett Bullock (1-0, 1.50 ERA). Bullock made his last start on Feb. 25, 2007 vs. San Diego... had the no decision in the 5-3 Deacon win... spread out seven hits, three runs, one walk while striking out two batters in 7.0 innings.
VS. THE SEAHAWKS...