Wake walks off against Gardner-Webb, 8-7
Wake Forest’s Joey Rodriguez delivered a walk-off single in the ninth inning as the Demon Deacons spoiled Gardner-Webb’s upset bid 8-7 Wednesday night at Veterans Field in Shelby. The loss marks the first time GWU has dropped back-to-back contests all season after they fell to another ACC foe, UNC on Tuesday.
“You hate lose a game like this, but I’m encouraged,” said Gardner-Webb manager Rusty Stroupe. “We came back from four runs down and then again with our last out. I like the way we hit tonight because we have been struggling at the plate lately.”
After Gardner-Webb (11-5-1) went in order as the visiting team in the first inning, Bulldog pitcher Beau Hilton ran into immediate trouble as Rodriquez ripped a RBI double to right field.
Two batters later, Jack Carey blasted a two-run homerun to dead centerfield to make the tally 4-0.
Henry Rundio got one of those back with a homer of his own in the second, a solo shot to right to cut the deficit to 4-1.
GWU then loaded the bases before Benji Jackson brought in two runs with a single. JJ Nazzaro tied the game later in the frame with a groundout to make the tally 4-4.
From that point both pitchers settled down for the next few innings, though Wake Forest did mount a threat in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with two outs.
Hilton, however, got some nice defense behind him as Rundio snagged a liner at third to end the inning.
The Bulldogs mounted a threat of their own in the fifth. Jackson led off with a single and moved to second on a balk. After advancing to third on a deep fly, Jackson came home when Ryan Hodge garnered an RBI on a fielder’s choice to give GWU their first lead at 5-4.
GWU reliever Brad Haymes came on and sat the Demon Deacons down in order in the bottom half to keep his team in the lead.
Wake reliever Conner Kaden was just as effective, working three scoreless innings.
Haymes encountered control problems in the seventh, walking the bases loaded with no outs. Brett Amor tied the game with a sac fly while Mark Rhyne slapped a single through the left side to give wake a slim 6-5 lead. Wake then added an unearned run in the eighth on a botched double-play attempt to leave GWU in a 7-5 deficit going into their last at-bat.
The Bulldogs would not go quietly as Rundio reached on an error and scored on a double by John Harris. Two outs later, GWU was down to their final strike when Jackson delivered a double to the left field corner that scored Tyler Best from first to tie the game at 7-7.
Wake loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half. GWU closer Jeff Howell responded with a strikeout, but he could not retire Rodriquez as the game ended with an 8-7 Wake win.
Jackson led GWU at the plate, going 3-4 with three RBIs and a double.
GWU returns to action Friday as they host Campbell in the conference opener for both teams. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.