Deacons Baseball Set For Tallahassee, Seminoles

March 28, 2001

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Games 27-29
#24 Wake Forest (19-7) vs. #11 Florida State (24-7)
Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
Radio: Seminole Radio Network
(www.wakeforestsports.com)

March 30 7:00 p.m.
March 31 7:00 p.m. (TV - Sunshine Network)
April 1 1:00 p.m.

Deacons Battle FSU In Top 25 Showdown
24th-ranked Wake Forest hits the road for a three-game set at 11th-ranked Florida State this weekend.

Wake Forest resides in a tie for third place in the league with a 6-3 mark. All teams are chasing the Seminoles who are sitting at 8-1.

The Deacons are 19-7 following a 13-8 win at home Wednesday against Old Dominion. The game was highlighted by the return of Ryan Braun, who made his first appearance since Feb. 27 due to tendonitis in his shoulder.

FSU comes into the weekend with a 24-7 record after a rare home loss to The Citadel, 5-2, on Wednesday afternoon.

Scouting the Seminoles
The 11th-ranked Seminoles are one of the country's hottest teams having won 21 of their last 23, including Wednesday's loss to The Citadel.

Florida State owns the league's most daunting home record, a 21-2 mark at Dick Howser Stadium, site of this weekend's three-game series.

FSU is led by John Ford Griffin who is hitting a blazing .491 with nine home runs and 39 RBI.

The 'Noles have been a strong pitching club to date. The team ERA of 2.95 is a full run lower than the next best ACC club, NC State, who is at 4.11.

Sullivan Goes Back-To-Back
What can he do for an encore?

Two weeks ago, Wake Forest senior All-American Cory Sullivan shared ACC Player of the Week honors for his performance with the bat. Last week, Sullivan picked up conference honors for his pitching performance as he was named ACC Pitcher of the Week, the conference announced Monday.

Sullivan pitched a complete game win against 10th-ranked Clemson on Saturday. He allowed just one earned run and struck out five Tigers. It was Sullivan's second career start and fifth appearance on the mound.

Sullivan is hitting a league-leading .561 against ACC foes. On the mound, he has a 1.80 ERA and would be leading the league but is five innings short of qualifying to rank among ACC leaders.

Sullivan ranks fourth on the Wake Forest batting average chart (.385), behind Billy Masse and Jon Palmieri, who were first team All-Americans, and Bill Merrifield, a two-time ACC Player of the Year.

Cory 6, Everyone Else 4
Few players will bat while pitching. Cory Sullivan does and is hitting an alarming .700 (7-of-10) in two games as the starter. In those games, he has six RBI while allowing two earned runs, four total.

Bush Becomes All-Time Appearance Leader
When junior closer Dave Bush trotted in from the bullpen last Friday against Clemson, he did so for the 87th time, surpassing Frank Humber as Wake Forest's all-time leader in appearances.

Last year, Bush led the team with a school record 36 appearances and already leads the ACC in that category in 2001.

Meanwhile, Bush is also climbing the WFU saves chart. He has 14 career saves, good for fourth place. Keith Ksansnak holds the all-time lead with 17.

Over the summer, Bush overwhelmed the highly-regarded competition in the Cape Cod League and was named to the league's All-Star team that played at Fenway Park against a Team USA select team.

Hitting Well Is A Team Thing
One of the reasons for Wake Forest's early success is no single player has been carrying the load at the plate. Heading into the Florida State series, eight Deacon regulars are hitting .320 or better, led by Cory Sullivan's .412 average.

Jamie D'Antona, Carlos Brackley, Stephen Ghutzman, Ryan Johnson, Jamie Athas, Steve LeFaivre and Corey Slavik are all above the mark. Nick Blue (.302) is looking to join the club.

For comparison sake, six Yellow Jacket regulars have hit .320 or higher. Clemson has five hitters with that claim. No other ACC team has more than three.

Braun Returns From Shoulder Injury
Sophomore Ryan Braun, penciled in as the third starter in the preseason, started on Wednesday after missing a month due to tendonitis in his shoulder.

Braun looked to be well on his way to a full recovery throwing four innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out five Old Dominion batters.

Braun redshirted the 1999 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Braun's return, combined with the emergence of senior Josh Bartlett as a starter, greatly enhances the depth of the bullpen. It also leaves Scott Siemon as the only missing component of the pitching staff. Siemon, also suffering from tendonitis, has begun rehab and is expected to make a full return in two-to-three weeks.

Stevie Wonders
Sophomore catcher Stephen Ghutzman and freshman Steve LeFaivre have thrived in the role of part-time starter and pinch-hitter.

Ghutzman is hitting a team-best .450 (9-of-20) with runners in scoring position while LeFaivre leads the team with two pinch-hit home runs.

On Wednesday, Ghutzman tied a school-record with three doubles. Even more remarkably, the switch-hitting sophomore did it from both sides of the plate, twice left-handed and once righty. Seven other players in Wake Forest history have hit three two-baggers in one game, including teammate Jamie D'Antona who did it against Penn State on February 10.

Earlier this year, LeFaivre enjoyed a streak of three at-bats with three home runs on the road at Virginia Commonwealth and at North Carolina.

Pushing All The Right Buttons
Head coach George Greer has been successful in selecting pinch hitters. As a team, the Deacons are hitting .344 (11-of-32) in pinch hitting situations with three home runs, two by Steve LeFaivre, one by Stephen Ghutzman.

LeFaivre has been Wake Forest's most frequent pinch-hitter, grabbing a bat nine times with three hits.

Other standouts in that category include Stephen Ghutzman (3-of-5), Carlos Brackley (2-of-5) and Ryan Johnson (2-of-2).

Deacons on the Tube
The Saturday game at Florida State will be televised on the Sunshine Network at 7:00 p.m.

The Georgia Tech series in Atlanta will be televised regionally. Fox Sports South and Home Team Sports will carry the Friday and Sunday games on Apr. 13 and 15. The ACC Network will air the Saturday game.

Wake Forest On the Airwaves
Stan Cotten and Mark Freidinger will call the action for at least nine games including the entire Clemson, Virginia and Georgia Tech series on 830 AM WTRU, plus all ACC and NCAA tournament games.

Games can also be heard at wakeforestsports.com.

Greer Enters 14th Season At Wake Forest
Head Coach George Greer enters his 14th season at Wake Forest with a career record of 490-301-3, the most wins by any Deacon coach in history, regardless of sport.

Greer, who coached his 1,000th Division I game last season in the NCAA Tournament, has two major milestones within reach. The 1969 graduate of Connecticut needs four wins to reach the 600-win plateau for his career. Greer is ten wins away of reaching 500 wins at Wake Forest.

Greer is the school's 23rd coach in the program's 87 season history. Greer's 14 year tenure is the longest of any prior Wake Forest baseball coach, ahead of John Caddell's 13 years from 1926-39.

Cory Sullivan: A Six-Tool Player
Observers of college baseball already knew Cory Sullivan had a ton of ability in the field and at the plate. That's why he was a third team All-American in 2000, his first season at Wake Forest out of Cypress JC in California.

Sullivan proved he could hit for average (.374 last year), hit for power (10 home runs in 78 career games), run well (28 stolen bases in just over one season) and could hold his own in center field.

The second team preseason All-American has been the leadoff hitter for the Deacons in every game over the last two seasons and when Scott Siemon and Ryan Braun went down with injuries, Sullivan showed a new element in his game: pitching.

In just two career starts, Sullivan is already 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and wins against North Carolina and Clemson. His complete game victory against the Tigers last week earned him ACC Pitcher of the Week honors.

With first team All-ACC pitcher Scott Siemon out for another two to three weeks with a shoulder injury and Ryan Braun working to get back to form, Sullivan's time as a starter may be limited.

Even so, Sullivan has impressed the coaching staff to the point where will be used in some capacity as the season progresses regardless of the injury situation.

 

 

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