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
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.
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.
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.
(photo courtesy of WFU Media Relations Office)