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Wake Forest edges Duke to earn spot in ACC Championship pool play
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – In an ACC Baseball Championship matchup of longstanding rivals, Wake Forest earned the right to stick around for the remainder of the week.
Starting pitcher Parker Dunshee and reliever Will Craig repeatedly stifled Duke scoring threats, and Stuart Fairchild hit a two-run homer as the 10th-seeded Demon Deacons held off the seventh-seeded Blue Devils, 4-3, in Tuesday’s first-round game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Wake Forest (33-23) landed a spot in Pool B of the round-robin tournament and will face second-seeded Louisville (46-10) in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game. Duke (33-22) was eliminated from further ACC Championship competition but remains hopeful of a spot in NCAA tournament play when berths are announced next Monday.
The Blue Devils outhit the Demon Deacons 13-5 but left 12 runners stranded, including the potential tying run on third base in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Fairchild’s fifth home run of the season – a towering shot that ricocheted off a restaurant awning just beyond the high left field wall, came after Nate Mondou was hit by a pitch and staked Wake to a 2-0 first-inning lead. The Deacons added a pair of runs off Blue Devil starter Kellen Urbon (7-2) and reliever Al Pesto and took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Duke scored twice in the seventh on Jack Labosky’s two-out RBI double that just missed clearing the wall in right-center and Justin Bellinger’s run-scoring single. But the Blue Devils were never able to tie or go ahead.
Dunshee (9-4) departed after giving up the double to Labosky in the seventh. The junior right-hander allowed nine hits in his 6.2-inning stint while walking two and striking out 10. Dunshee’s 10 strikeouts were a career-high versus ACC opposition.
Craig yielded Bellinger’s RBI single after coming on in relief, but frustrated Duke through the final two innings to earn his seventh save. The Wake junior yielded a leadoff double to Zack Kone in the bottom of the eighth but retired the next three hitters. Chris Proctor led off the bottom of the ninth for Duke with a walk, and Peter Zyla delivered a two-out single. But Craig struck out pinch-hitter Michael Smiciklas swinging to end the game.
Fairchild had two of the Demon Deacons’ five hits. Zylas finished 3-for-5, and Proctor, Labosky and Bellinger each had two hits for the Blue Devils.