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 18, 2003

Demon Deacons Reminded to Fear the Turtle


Our Spring Break began on Monday as we boarded a bus for Lynchburg, Va., for Tuesday’s game versus Liberty. We got to our hotel with plenty of time to kill, which meant we had to find ways to entertain ourselves - without getting in trouble.  

In the lobby many guys were playing the video game Halo on Ryan Hubbard’s traveling XBOX. He not only leads our team in stolen bases, but he also is a Halo expert as well. There were also the usual Spades games going on in a few rooms, but the most entertaining activity was going on in the halls. A few guys had set up a mini Putt-Putt course with drinking glasses. The carpet would have even given Tiger Woods trouble because it never seemed to break the same way twice. It made for a very interesting and intense hour of miniature golf.

On Tuesday we got down to business and played Liberty. During our batting practice there were snow flurries, but by game time, it had warmed up to sixty degrees.  Unfortunately, we lost 6-5. We were up 5-3 in the seventh, but Liberty was able to score three runs in the seventh and eighth innings. It was tough to lose our second straight game, but Liberty is a very strong club that always gives us trouble. Also, after our loss the Sunday before, we knew that we weren’t playing as well as we could be. However, we learned that unlike in the movies, you can’t have a meeting, show up at the field and automatically play your "A" game. It is something that can only be achieved over time, with plenty of hard work.  

On Wednesday we looked to bounce back against Wofford. Everyone seemed a lot more focused on playing well after getting a second straight slap in the face. We won the game 26-8. Freshman Kyle Young got his first start on the hill, and Indy Wilkinson got his first career win. It was the third time this season that we had scored 20 runs in a game, and we hoped to use it to create some momentum going into our weekend series with Maryland.  

On Thursday, we left for Maryland. From Winston-Salem it is about a 6½-hour bus ride.  When I was a freshman, the thought of a bus ride that long made me cringe, but after playing summer ball in Alaska, the trip to Maryland seemed like a hop, skip and a jump away.  (From Fairbanks our shortest trip was eight hours, and the longest was 13 across the majestic beauty of Alaska.  There, I learned how to make marathon bus trips seem fun and keep myself entertained by playing cards, reading or sleeping.) A long bus trip also meant more singing from the back of the bus, except this time I noticed that some of the younger guys had brought pillows to cover their ears with.  

We opened up the series and ACC competition under the lights of Shipley Field on Friday night. After giving all of our parents heart attacks, we won 5-4. Maryland was up 4-3 going into the top of the ninth, but we rallied with two outs to score our final two runs. Jamie D’Antona singled to score Adam Bourassa, and Chris Getz drew a bases-loaded walk for the game-winning RBI. Adam Hanson shut the door on the Terps in the bottom of the ninth.

On Saturday, Maryland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but we answered in the third with three runs of our own and never lost the lead again. The final score ended up 12-2. Sophomore Tim Morley threw another gem for us, allowing only two runs in seven innings of work. Our offense had 19 hits, led by four each by Jamie D’Antona and Jeff Ruziecki. Jeff also dropped two bombs, including a one-handed, opposite-field shot that looked mathematically impossible.  

Sunday, we came to the field focused on completing a series sweep.  We were up 9-4 going into the bottom of the eighth, and it seemed as though we were going to accomplish our goal. However, Maryland did not let us off that easy. They scored five runs and it became a whole new ballgame. If I wasn’t before, I am now convinced that no lead is safe in the ACC. Steve Schmoll came in for the Terps and shut us down for four innings, but we finally got to him in the top of the 13th. Jamie D’Antona hit a bases-loaded single that scored two runs, and Jeff Ruziecki put it away with a three-run homer.  Maryland almost won in the tenth inning, when it loaded the bases with no one out. We brought in Ryan Hubbard from left field to play "rover" in front of second base, and Adam Bourassa and I moved to left- and right-center field. With two outs, they hit a screaming ground ball that hit off Jeff Ruziecki’s glove and ricocheted perfectly to second baseman Chris Getz, who then tossed it to Adam Hanson, and the bizarre inning was over.  

This week we play Oklahoma State on Tuesday and High Point on Wednesday.  We then travel to Chapel Hill to take on our Tobacco Road rival - "Carolina" - for a three-game set over the weekend.


Ryan Johnson


Previous Entries

Feeling Blue? Lasorda is the Cure (3/11/03)

Karaoke and Playing in a Big-League Dome (3/4/03)


(photo courtesy of WFU Media Relations Office)