Ryan Johnson is a senior at Wake Forest. Each week, the All-American outfielder will keep us posted on the happenings at Wake Forest, a team that should challenge for the ACC title. Johnson, who batted .366 a year ago with 13 home runs and 77 RBI, is a tri-captain for the Demon Deacons.



March 4, 2003

Karaoke and Playing in a Big-League Dome


On Monday and Tuesday of last week, we were able to practice outdoors on consecutive days for the first time in over two weeks.  We were riding the high of sweeping a very solid James Madison club and were getting prepared for a tough week of scheduled games versus High Point, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Notre Dame.  Unfortunately, Wednesday’s game against High Point was cancelled due to the combination of rain, snow, ice, sleet, and freezing rain that hit Winston-Salem.  It was our sixth cancelled game of the season, and we once again hit the gym and indoor cages in preparation for the Dairy Queen Classic in Minneapolis.


We left Thursday afternoon and were very excited for our first road trip of the year.  Road trips are one of the best parts of playing college baseball because nothing seems to bring our team together more than time in a bus, a plane, or a hotel.  On the way to Charlotte, our bus broke down four times.  We all sat amazed because it seemed like we were never going to get to the airport and would have to cancel three more games.  However, we were able to keep ourselves entertained with four different games of spades (a favorite card game of our team) and singing some of our favorite “Eighties” and country songs accompanied by music from a laptop.  If you think some of the American Idol tryouts were bad, you should hear 30 tone-deaf baseball players sing the karaoke classic, Pour Some Sugar on Me


Thankfully, we did make it to the airport on time and we boarded the plane for Minnesota.  My favorite quote of the week came from the pilot who upon landing said, “The weather in Minneapolis is still good. It is now 26 degrees.”  We all looked at each other shocked and broke out laughing hysterically.  Twenty-six degrees just did not seem like “good” weather to us.  Luckily, we were going to be in a dome all weekend.


Getting to play in the Metrodome was a great experience.  Playing in a big-league park gives players a chance to taste of their dream of playing in one every day.  Our first game in the dome was against Minnesota.  We won 7-3, behind another great outing by Kyle Sleeth.  He allowed three runs in the fourth, the first ones he has allowed all season, but responded great by putting up zeroes for the final 5 frames.  Offensively, we were very balanced.  Our sparkplugs at the top of the order, Adam Bourassa and Ryan Hubbard, each had two hits, and Brad Scioletti had a pair of RBI.  Unfortunately, that would be the last that we would hear from our offense all weekend.


Our second game was against a tough Nebraska team, and we lost 6-0.  Their pitcher, Brian Duensing, threw a gem, giving up only five hits and striking up nine.  Offensively, the Cornhuskers had a great approach at the plate.  It seemed like every ball they hit was a hard ground ball or a line drive.  Also, they never seemed to get fooled by anything that was thrown at them.  Our relief pitcher, Brian Bach, did a great job of containing them by allowing only one run in six innings of work.  Offensively, we did not make any adjustments.  Duensing left us baffled.  It was the second time that we have been shutout since I have been here, and it didn’t feel any better than the first time. 


On Sunday, the wind chill in the Twin Cities was minus-25 degrees, and we played our third and final game of the tournament against Notre Dame.  It was an epic that lasted 13 innings and took three hours and forty-four minutes to complete.  Unlike most college games, it was a pitching duel that Notre Dame finally won 2-1.  For the Irish, flamethrower John Axford and reliever J.P. Gagne teamed up to hold us to one run on eight hits.  For the Deacons, starter Tim Morley and reliever Adam Hanson allowed only two runs on 11 hits.  It’s hard to win at any level of baseball if you only score one run.  Again, we did not make any adjustments, nor did we get any timely hits.  The few balls that we hit hard went right at people.  In the final inning Notre Dame emerged with a single, a double, and then the game-winning single by Joe Thaman. 


We were not satisfied with going 1-2 on the weekend, but it is a long season.  We saw what we need to do to beat top-level competition.  Now, we get to see if we can learn from our mistakes in our five games this week.  We play Charlotte Tuesday, Albany Thursday, and Le Moyne in a three-game series this weekend.           


Ryan Johnson

(photo courtesy of WFU Media Relations Office)