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.
April 1, 2003
Deacons Go 4-0-Snow
North Carolina’s weather never
ceases to amaze me. On Friday, our stadium was used as a tanning salon for the
girls of Wake Forest, and on Sunday we had to cancel our game due to SNOW! As
luck would have it, it snowed just enough to cancel our game, but not enough to
cancel Monday’s classes. Despite my present bitterness with the weather, we were
able to play four games last week.
On Tuesday, we beat High Point
18-3. Adam Hanson finally got to start the first game of his career. He had been
scheduled to start six times in the past three years, but each game was rained
out. The wait paid off, as he got the victory and pitched very well. The game
almost was put out of reach in the first inning when we scored nine runs on one
hit. Yes one hit – a bases-clearing double by Steve LeFaivre. If you can’t
imagine how that was done, don’t worry; we are still trying to figure it out
On Wednesday, we took on the
scrappy UNC Greensboro Spartans under the lights at historic Ernie Shore Field.
They are the type of team that you love to watch play but hate to play against
because they play hard and always seem to manufacture runs. We survived and beat
them 9-6. Brian Bach did an excellent job of containing them, allowing only
three runs in eight innings. Our offense finally was able to perform well after
scoring a lot of runs the game before. Up until that point, it looked like we
thought the runs from our big days would be carried over to the next game. We
had been stressing consistency in our game preparation, and it was great to see
it pay off.
Our practice on Thursday was
conducted with relaxed intensity. Previously, we had either been relaxed to the
point that it seemed like we didn’t care what was going on or been so intense
that we played tight or timid. After two years of playing together, it is clear
that we only perform well if we balance these two styles.
Duke came to Winston-Salem on
Friday, and we were focused on keeping the momentum going. We still had a bad
taste in our mouths from last year’s series, when they beat us the last weekend
of the year and cost us the regular-season ACC title. Kyle Sleeth took the mound
looking for his 26th consecutive victory. The second batter of the
game, Brian Patrick, hit an opposite-field home run, and it looked like a team
may have finally figured Sleeth out. However, he shut them down after that and
did not allow any more runs. Kyle gives us a consistent performance week in and
week out. I could probably write my senior thesis about all of the success that
he has had, but he never seems satisfied with what he has done. He is always
looking to get better and just help the team. After playing small ball the past
couple weeks, our offense finally got back into “gorilla ball” mode. Jamie
D’Antona, LeFaivre and I each hit home runs and as a team we had four
We went back to Ernie Shore
Field on Saturday to play under the lights. We are still the only team in the
ACC without lights, but our Student Government has been working hard in
conjunction with the Athletic Department and school administrators to bring
lights to Gene Hooks Stadium. It may be the first time in college baseball
history that regular students have led the initiative to get their team lights.
Duke jumped out to a 3-0 lead in
the first, and our team was about to see what it was made of. We could have
folded as we did the weekend before, but we did not want to fail again. We were
patient and did not let being behind change our game plan. We relied on a
balanced attack to score seven runs. Tim Morley did an excellent job of keeping
the Blue Devils contained and gave us a chance to win the game. Adam Hanson
entered in the seventh and pitched three solid innings of relief. The final
score was 7-4.
As I said earlier, Sunday’s game
was snowed out. The day off gave us a chance to catch up on our studies, sleep
and play video games (with a heavy emphasis put on sleep and video games, I
think). This week we play under the lights at Davidson on Wednesday. Then we
travel to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles of Florida State. In case playing
Florida State isn’t enough to fire our team up, the knowledge that we haven’t
won there in almost a decade should do the trick.
Deacons Lose Bragging Rights (3/25/03)
Demon Deacons Reminded to Fear the Turtle (3/18/03)
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)