DURHAM — Wake Forest couldn’t have asked for a better start to its opening game in the ACC Tournament.
Demon Deacons starting pitcher Colin Peluse ran through the dangerous Louisville order, allowing just one hit in the first three innings. Wake, meanwhile, loaded the bases with no outs in its half of the third, with singles by Logan Harvey and Patrick Frick, sandwiched around a walk to DJ Poteet.
“We had some chances, offensively,” said Wake coach Tom Walter. “Bases loaded, nobody out — we had the chance to grab some momentum.”
The Deacs scored one run, when Jake Mueller grounded into a double play, but it wasn’t the rally Walter hoped for, especially after Chris Lanzilli looked at a third strike to end the threat.
“We need to have some better at bats there,” Walter said. “Instead, we only get one, and the momentum shifts to their dugout.”
Louisville wasted no time in building on the momentum. Peluse ran into trouble in the fourth inning, and Josh Stowers hit a towering three-run home run that cleared the snorting bull sign in left field and put the Cardinals on top to stay. Louisville pulled away, posting a lopsided 10-2 win Wednesday over the Deacs at Durham Bulls Atheltic Park
“Coming in, (Stowers) was a guy we didn’t want to beat us,” Walter said, “and he hurt us all day today.”
Stowers finished 3-for-4 on the day, coming up a single shy of the cycle. He scored three times and drove in six.
The sophomore pitcher struggled to stay consistent, catcher Logan Harvey said.
“Quite honestly, he just got out of tempo, out of rhythm,” Harvey said. “It can be hard to get back into your set. That comes with time.”
It wasn’t the only time Wake’s youth bit the team during the game. Freshman Michael Ludowig led off the fifth with a double. He then got thrown out trying to advance to third base on a grounder to short.
“That was obviously a huge play in the game,” Walter said. “I thought he made the right read. He just hesitated a little bit, just for that split second. I always tell them, ‘If you hesitate, you need to stay put.’ He made a freshman mistake. At this time next year, Michael Ludowig wouldn’t make that play.”
The loss dimmed Wake’s hopes of advancing to the ACC Tournament semifinals, meaning tomorrow’s game against Duke will likely close the book on the season.
“It’s disappointing,” Walter said. “Any time you’re 25-31, I think you’re certainly disappointed. It’s not where we think our program is.”
With five freshmen in the starting lineup, Wake should be in good position to improve next season, after taking some lumps in this rebuilding year.
“We certainly have a lot to look forward to, but we’ll be licking our wounds for the next 20 hours,” Walter said.
Then Wake will send ace pitcher Griffin Roberts to the mound in an attempt to spoil the Blue Devils’ hopes of advancement.
“We knew what we had to do to advance to the next stage,” Harvey said. “Obviously, we didn’t come away with the win. Tomorrow, we’ll have Griffin on the mound and me behind the plate, and we’re going to try to end this season on a high note instead of a down slope.”