March 23, 2001
WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Wake Forest baseball team dropped the series opener to Clemson on Friday afternoon at Hooks Stadium by a the final score of 4-1 in 12 innings. The Tigers scored three runs in the top of the 12th to capture the win.
Wake Forest had plenty of baserunners as the team pounded out 14 hits to Clemson’s five. However, the Demon Deacons couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities as they stranded 13 runners, tying a season-high.
Wake Forest left the bases loaded in the ninth after a couple of squandered bunting situations. But the Deacons’ best opportunity to win the game came in the bottom of the 11th inning as Ryan Johnson got aboard with a leadoff single. Matt Price followed with a base hit, moving Johnson to second. With one out, Jason Aquilante singled sharply to left field. Johnson tried to score from second but was gunned down at the plate by Clemson left fielder Casey Stone. The Deacons still had runners at first and second but Cory Sullivan bounced out to the pitcher to end the scoring threat.
Clemson made the Deacons pay in the very next inning and loaded the bases with just one hit. A hit by pitch, sacrifice bunt, an error and a single filled the bases full of Tigers before Michael Johnson’s single to left brought in one run. Later in the inning, Zane Green lined a single to left to score two more runs.
Junior closer Dave Bush threw a season-high 4.2 innings and took the loss for Wake Forest. He came on in the seventh with runners in scoring position and 1-0 lead. Bush got pinch-hitter Kyle Frank to ground out to second base but a runner scored on the play. Bush went on to retire 13 of the next 14 batters before the 12th inning.
Wake Forest could not answer in the bottom of the 12th as Clemson picked up its fourth straight win to open conference season. The largest home crowd at Hooks Stadium this season of 1,113 saw the Demon Deacons slip to 17-6 overall and 5-2 in the ACC.
“We didn’t get a bunt down when we needed to and they did. That’s what it came down to,” head coach George Greer said. “Our starting pitcher, Ben Clayton, did a good job. I thought Dave Bush did a good job. But they made some good pitches and we didn’t get clutch hitting we needed.”
Offensively, Cory Sullivan and Jason Aquilante led the Deacons with three hits a piece. Ryan Johnson, Carlos Brackley and Steve LeFaivre also contributed a pair of base hits.
The Deacons and Tigers will play game two of the three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Senior Cory Sullivan, who won in his first career start last Sunday at North Carolina, will get the ball for the Wake Forest. Ryan Childs will take the hill for Clemson.
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