College baseball: Wake Forest keeps its hope alive with win over Virginia
DURHAM, N.C. -- Tenth-seeded Wake Forest launched five home runs and held on in the ninth to defeat No. 7-ranked and third-seeded Virginia, 10-9, on Friday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the second game of pool play at the ACC Championship.
The Demon Deacons (34-24) faced a 5-1 deficit after the top of the fourth before the offense came roaring back to thanks to a season-high five longballs, one apiece from Nate Mondou, Kevin Conway, Joey Rodriguez, Will Craig and Johnny Aiello.
Wake Forest's 34 wins are also the most under seventh-year head coach Tom Walter, and the most for the Deacs since reaching an NCAA Regional and finishing 34-29 in 2007.
Craig recorded three hits and two RBIs and also earned his eighth save. Aiello also knocked a double and had two RBIs, while Conway tallied two hits, and three RBIs.
For the third straight game in the ACC Tournament, the Deacs scored in the first inning. This time, it was Nate Mondou's solo shot that gave Wake Forest a 1-0 lead after one inninng.
However, the Cavaliers responded with five extra-base hits in the first four innings to take a 5-1 lead.
The Demon Deacons then scored seven straight runs, first closing the gap in the bottom of the fourth on Conway's two-out, two-run blast to left-center which brought the Deacs within two.
Then, after Ben Breazeale drew a four-pitch walk, Aiello doubled off the high wall in left to score Beeazeale, who crossed the plate before Aiello was tagged out trying to take third.
The Deacs continued to play long ball in the fifth, as Rodriguez launched a two-run shot onto a second-level balcony over the left field wall to retake the lead, 6-5, and chase Virginia starter Alec Bettinger from the game.
Two batters later, after Stuart Fairchild singled, Craig hit the Deacons' fourth homer of the game on a line drive to left-center to extend the Wake lead to 8-5 after five.
Garrett Kelly (1-2) earned his first win of the season by allowing one unearned run and striking out two over 1.2 innings, settling the game down after the early deficit.
Thanks to a hit by pitch, walk, and a throwing error after a strikeout, Virginia was able to score a run in the sixth to cut their deficit to 8-6. Donnie Sellers entered with two on and two out, and recorded a fly out to end the Cavaliers rally.
The Deacs matched a season-high with their fifth dinger of the contest when Aiello led off the sixth with a solo shot over the left-field wall.
While Virginia was able to get a run off Sellers in the top of the seventh, Wake Forest grabbed a run of its own on Conway's sacrifice fly to deep center field in the bottom of the frame.
Virginia rallied in the ninth, as they recorded three hits and two runs against Craig, but Mondou handled a pair of tough grounders at second base to help seal the win.
The Deacs need to knock off 12th-ranked and sixth-seeded Clemson to stay alive in the ACC Championship when the teams meet on Saturday morning at 11 a.m.