Wake Forest hangs on to beat top-ranked Virginia, clinch series win
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Wake Forest built a three-run lead in the sixth inning and held on to defeat No. 1 Virginia 4-3 on Saturday to clinch the series win.
After defeating the top-ranked Cavaliers in the first game of the series on Friday, Wake Forest (30-25, 15-15 ACC) withstood a late Virginia (43-11, 22-8 ACC) rally for the win. The Cavaliers loaded the bases in the ninth inning with the potential go-ahead run on second, but Parker Dunshee struck out Nick Howard to end the game.
With the win, Wake Forest earns the eighth-seed in the upcoming ACC Baseball Championship. The Demon Deacons will take on Georgia Tech on Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Greensboro, N.C. Wake Forest won a series against a top-ranked team for the first time since taking two-of-three against No. 1 Florida State in 2000. It was also the first ACC series that Virginia has lost this season.
Joey Rodriguez homered in the third inning while Will Craig singled in the sixth to score two. Ben Breazeale added an RBI-single in the sixth. Matt Conway was 2-for-4 with one run.
Connor Kaden got the start and went 5.0 innings pitched while giving up no runs and just three hits. Max Tishman earned the win while Nate Jones and Dunshee pitched in relief. Dunshee pitched 2.1 innings while giving up three hits and striking out two for his first collegiate save.
After two scoreless innings, Wake Forest jumped out early as Rodriguez homered to left field. His previous home run came last season against Virginia. Kaden finished the fifth inning by keeping the Cavaliers off the board but Virginia evened the score at 1-1 as Howard homered to left.
Wake Forest responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth as Craig delivered with a two-RBI single down the left field line. Conway singled with one out followed by Nate Mondou who doubled to left field putting runners in scoring position. Craig greeted reliever Connor Jones as he singled on the first pitch from Jones.
Breazeale added on later in the inning with an RBI single to center, putting Wake Forest up 4-1. Virginia cut the Deacs' lead in the seventh inning to two as Mike Papi homered to right field.
Dunshee came in late in the seventh and kept the Cavaliers off balance however drama set in during the ninth inning. Virginia loaded the bases and scored one run off an error to come within one run. But Dunshee struck out Howard in the next at-bat to close out the win.
Brandon Waddell got the start for the Cavaliers but took the loss after giving up three runs in 5.1 innings pitched.