December 8, 2023

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Wake Forest changes the “atmosphere” and leads Stanford in the opener at MCWS

Wake Forest changes the “atmosphere” and leads Stanford in the opener at MCWS

News agencyJune 17, 2023 at 8:06 p.m. ET4 minutes to read

No. 1 Wake Forest scores a comeback win over No. 8 Stanford

Wake Forest is going through a rain delay and after hitting the clutch in the eighth inning, cruises to a 3-2 victory over Stanford.

OMAHA, Nebraska — Danny Corona hit a two-run single in the eighth inning to knock out a lethargic Wake Forest offense, and the Demon Deacons opened their first College World Series in 68 years with a 3-2 victory over Stanford in Saturday.

The #1 nationally ranked Deacons had three hits and one run before storms in the area caused a delay of 1 hour and 28 minutes in the seventh inning.

When play resumed, the Deacons managed to squeeze enough production to win their first game in Omaha since winning the national championship here in 1955.

“We call ourselves the King of Delays,” said Brock Wilken. “Every time we’re late, we come out with so much energy, and our vibe instantly transforms.”

Wake Forest converted a double play to end the game, closely pushing Camden Minacci to pump his fists and dance a bit in front of the mound as players jumped off the breast bumps.

The Deacons (53-10) will play Monday against the winner of Saturday night’s game between LSU and Tennessee. Stanford (44-19) plays the loser on Monday.

Seth Keener (8-1), the third of four Wake Forest pitchers, struck out four of the five batters he faced and earned the win.

For four innings, Stanford’s Joey Dixon shutting offense outscored first-five opponents in the NCAA Tournament 75-16—the largest ever run difference for a team heading to the CWS—and averaged 9.4 points per game for the season.

Dixon, who gave up a homer to Brock Welkin and two singles, got out of a bases-filled situation before turning the game over to Drew Dowd in the beginning of the fifth inning. Dodd retired all six batters he faced, but did not return after the delay.

“You got us upset early on and we got nervous, and we kind of got out of our plan offensively,” said coach Tom Walter. “You didn’t have great at bats, really, in the first seven innings. Give Stanford pitching credit. Dixon and Dowd did a great job and kind of held us up. But we did enough.”

Nick Duggan got off a small snag in the seventh, but walked Nick Kurtz to start in the eighth. Left-handed Ryan Bruno came in (2-2) and Wilken walked. Both led with a sacrifice bunt by Justin Johnson before Corona ripped a center fielder to score both and give him 19 RBI, the most in the tournament.

“I told our team at the end, ‘If we break it down to the smallest level, they’re going to get batters, hit hard hits and base hits,'” Stanford coach David Esker said. “They executed for winning that ball game. You gotta give them credit for doing it.”

The deacons were able to use the delay as an opportunity to reset. Esquer went to the concession stand to buy a hot dog, and the players kept things in the clubhouse.

“Obviously we don’t want to point fingers at any delay or any one game,” Carter Graham said. “We tried to keep our rhythm and our momentum going. We were playing a creative sack in the locker room, trying to stick together and have a good time because that’s what we’re here for.”

Wake Forest improved to 18-0 when ace Rhett Lauder started. The projected first-round draft pick struggled with his drive, but still had six hits against a walk and limited Stanford to two runs before leaving with one out in the sixth.

“He’s been battling a little virus the last couple of days and he’s not having good things,” Walter said. “But he got to sixth and gave us a chance to win like he always does.”

Stanford used two hits and a walk to load the bases in the first inning, and Lauder was about to get out of the jam when he hit Malcolm Moore with a 2-2 pitch to force a run.

After Wilken hit his 31st of the season on his 21st birthday, tying him with Florida’s Jack Caglianone for the national lead, Graham singled in a third run to put Stanford ahead 2–1.

Stranded with five runners in scoring position against Loader, the Cardinals lost further chances to increase their lead when reliever Shawn Sullivan grabbed Timo Becerra and Tommy Troy on firsts in the sixth and seventh innings.

“We had a lot of opportunities throughout the day with the runners in the scoring positions,” Esker said. “He could have taken the same hit and widened the gap or extended the lead.”

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