Deacons To Face Tar Heels In First Round

May 14, 2001

The ACC Tournament
Wake Forest (37-15, 16-8)
at
Knights Castle (Fort Mill, SC)

Radio: 830 AM WTRU / www.wakeforestsports.com (all postseason games)
First Round: #3 Wake Forest vs. #6 North Carolina (Wednesday, approx. 8:30 p.m.)

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Deacons Seek Third Title In Four Years
Wake Forest travels to Fort Mill, SC, for the 18th Annual ACC Baseball Tournament. The Demon Deacons finished 16-8 in the ACC, tying for the most conference wins in school history.

Wake enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed and will face sixth-seeded North Carolina on Wednesday at approximately 8:30 p.m. The Demon Deacons won back-to-back tournament titles in 1998 and 1999 and are looking for their third ACC crown in four years. Wake Forest enters the conference tournament on a four-game winning streak.

Last Time Out
Wake Forest played its final regular season contest on Sunday May 13 at home against High Point, a 14-2 win for the Demon Deacons. It was truly 'Senior Day' as senior Cory Sullivan went 4-for-4 with his ninth home run of the season, four runs scored and three RBI.

On the hill, senior starter Josh Bartlett got the win striking out five batters without allowing a hit in two innings of work. Seven pitchers combined to hold High Point to just six hits. Prior to Sunday, the Demon Deacons had been idle for 11 days as the student-athletes took finals.

History 101: Deacons in the ACC Tourney
Wake Forest won the 1998 Tournament as the No. 5 seed and the 1999 Tournament as the No. 2 seed. The Demon Deacons have advanced out of the first round in four straight tournaments, five of the last six.

The last time Wake Forest failed to win the opening round game was in 1997, a loss to Clemson. Wake Forest has not been a No. 3 seed since 1982. The Deacons lost their first round contest to Virginia before working through the losers? bracket to the semifinals against North Carolina.

Wake Forest lost the game 5-4. Tar Heel reliever, and current Associated Press writer, Dave Droschak picked up the victory for the Tar Heels.

Sullivan Named Howser Award Semifinalist
Senior Cory Sullivan was chosen by the Writers' Association as one of the 20 semifinalists for the Howser Award, given to the nation's top player.

Sullivan has been the Deacons' best hitter all season out of the leadoff spot. He has also unexpectedly become the team's top starter. Sullivan finished among the ACC leaders in every offensive category and several pitching categories. He was tabbed by Baseball America as one of the country's top three senior outfielders.

D'Antona Chasing All-America Honors
Early in the season, first baseman Jamie D'Antona gave some clues that he would be an impact player as a freshman. In just his second game in a Wake Forest uniform, D'Antona belted three doubles in one game against Penn State, tying a school record. It was part of a 13-game hitting streak for the rookie from Trumbull, Conn. He hasn't let up. All he's done this season is bat .360 with 10 home runs. His 62 RBI rank third among the country's first basemen, behind Dan Johnson of Nebraska and Philip Hartig of The Citadel, both seniors. D'Antona has been recognized by Baseball America as the nation's best freshman first baseman.

Burning Bush
Junior closer Dave Bush leads the ACC in saves (13), appearances (35) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.7) entering the tournament and was tied for the NCAA lead in saves as of May 10.

Bush doesn't fit the traditional mold of a closer as he is second on the team in innings and first in strikeouts. Several times this season, Bush has been called upon in the seventh, or even the sixth inning. He has struck out the side on six occasions, an incredible feat for a pitcher who has thrown just 58.2 innings. Bush is Wake Forest's all-time leader in saves (22) and appearances (105).

Greer Gets 500 at Wake Forest
Head coach George Greer became just the seventh coach in ACC history to reach the 500-win plateau on April 20 with an 8-7 win over NC State at Ernie Shore Field.

This is Greer's 14th season at Wake Forest with a record of 508-309-3. His overall record is 614-431-7 in 20 seasons as a Division I head coach, including six at Davidson. Greer coached his 1,000th Division I game last season in the NCAA Tournament.

Class Of 2001: Definition of Success
Heading into tournament play, the Class of 2001 has an overall, four-year record of 168-74-1, a winning percentage of .693. The winning percentage is the highest four-year rate since 1964. The 168 wins are the tied for the most in history. The class of 2000 also posted 168 wins.

This class finishes with ACC record of 59-35, a winning percentage of .628. The 59 wins are the most of any other four-year span in school history.

Later this month, Wake Forest will likely make its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. No other class in the illustrious history of Demon Deacon baseball can make that claim.

Aquilante Playing Through The Pain
After being beaned 33 times in his four-year career, Wake Forest's all-time leader in that category, everyone already knew catcher Jason Aquilante was a tough kid.

He's back at it again.

On Friday April 20 against NC State, Aquilante broke the little finger in his right (throwing) hand while catching warmup pitches from Dave Bush between innings.

Initially, it was believed Aquilante would miss four-to-six weeks due to the insertion of a pin that would speed up the healing process. Less than 48 hours later, the Deacons were playing their final home ACC game of the season. With a big lead in hand, Aquilante persuaded head coach George Greer into letting him pinch-hit in the seventh inning. He remained the game to play second base, his position for the first three years of his college career.

He showed no effects and the next day against Liberty, Aquilante homered. Remarkably, since the injury, he has been the team's hottest hitter, batting .457 (16-for-35) with six extra base hits and nine RBI.

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming
The Demon Deacons continue to post amazing offensive numbers. Just one everyday player in the batting order has a batting average under .300 (2B Nick Blue - .283).

Six regulars have averages better than .320 led by Cory Sullivan's .390 mark.

The team's top players off the bench are no slouches, either. Stephen Ghutzman (.324), Steve LeFaivre (.311) and Josh Hansen (.310) all have solid averages and can swing for the fences.

California Love
A look at the Demon Deacon roster reveals an unusual quality for an ACC team. Wake Forest has seven California natives.

Second baseman Nick Blue (Saratoga) and right fielder Ryan Johnson (Laguna Hills) are everyday players in the Wake Forest lineup. Ryan Braun (Fresno) and Ben Clayton (San Leandro) are two of the team's best starters while Ryan Lewis (Newport Beach) is a top arm out of the bullpen.

Josh Hansen (Santa Ana) and Gregory Russell (Glendale) have been impressive as freshmen. That list doesn't include Cory Sullivan, a Pittsburgh, Pa., native, who came to Wake from Cypress Junior College in California.

Stealin' Deacons
Jamie Athas' stolen base in the first inning against High Point on May 13 was the team's 81st theft of the season, breaking the school record for stolen bases in a season. The 1988 team used to own the title with 80.

Wake Forest, not traditionally known as a running team, has been stealing bases at an unprecedented rate. In the month of April, a stretch of 18 games, the Stealin' Deacons swiped 39 bases in 40 attempts.

Records Are Made To Be Broken
The 2001 Demon Deacons on pace to break several team batting records. This year's edition is averaging 8.9 runs per game, better than the 1999 team whose 8.7 average is the current watermark.

Deacons Love The Lefties
Wake Forest hasn't seen too many southpaw starters this season but the Deacons are an impressive 8-1 against left-handed starters.

The list of victims includes a couple of highly-regarded pitchers including Virginia's Brandon Creswell, James Madison's Adam Wynegar, New Orleans' Tom Lipari and East Carolina's Foye Minton. This year, opponent southpaw starters have a combined ERA of 9.54 in 50.0 innings pitched against Wake Forest.

The only time the Demon Deacons were unable to post a victory against a lefty was on April 18, a 3-1 loss at High Point. David White shut down the Deacons but did not earn the victory.

Three Deacons Nominated For All-America Honors From Writers Association
Cory Sullivan, Jamie D'Antona and Dave Bush have all made the second ballot for All-American as voted by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Sullivan was a NCBWA second team Preseason All-American. At the conclusion of last season, Sullivan was chosen a third team All-American by the writers.

Previous Wake Forest NCBWA All-Americans include Danny Borrell (1999 - 2nd Team), Mike MacDougal (1999 - 2nd Team), Jon Palmieri (1999 - 1st Team, 1998 - 3rd Team) and John Hendricks (1998 - 1st Team).

Hooks Stadium Flag Flies At Half-Staff
Last Friday afternoon, the Wake Forest baseball family suffered loss with the sudden and unexpected passing of the father of assistant coach Brad Bohannon. In his memory, the American flag flew at half-staff on Sunday afternoon against High Point.

We Meet Again
Wake Forest and North Carolina hooked up in round one of last year's ACC Spring Classic for one of the most exciting games of the tournament, a contest the Deacons won in dramatic fashion, 8-7. Danny Borrell's home run in the 13th inning capped a wild game that saw the two teams combine for nine errors.

After nine innings the game was tied at three. Carolina scored two in the 11th but Wake Forest responded with two of its own on a Carlos Brackley RBI single and on a double play groundout by Ryan Johnson. In the top of the 12th, UNC again put up two runs. And again, Wake Forest tied it. Stephen Sullivan's infield groundout and another RBI single by Brackley pulled the game even at seven.

Borrell retired the Tar Heels in the top of the 13th and with one out in the bottom of the 13th, belted a solo home run to right field for the gamewinner.

Been There, Done That
Three current Demon Deacons were members of the 1999 ACC All-Tournament team. They are Dave Bush, who earned his first career win with 4.1 innings of relief in the championship game, Matt Price, who hit the game-tying home run in the championship game against Clemson and Scott Siemon, who threw a complete game shutout of Florida State in the semifinal.

Streaks, Trends, Stats and Misc. Info ...
Cory Sullivan has reached base in all 52 games this season ... Wake Forest is 33-0 when leading after seven innings ... as the leadoff hitter in an inning, Sullivan reaches base 50.5% of the time ... Corey Slavik saw his 11-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday against High Point ... After a two-week slump, going 3-for-35 at the plate, Nick Blue has five hits in his last 13 at-bats.

A Second Helping of the Misc. Info
As a team, Wake Forest is hitting lefties at a .358 clip compared to .324 vs. righties ... Ryan Johnson is the team's best hitter with runners in scoring position, hitting .407 (24-for-59) in those situations ... Jamie D'Antona leads the team with 20 two-out RBI ... opposing pinch-hitters are hitting just .159 (7-for-44).

 

 

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