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 15, 2003
Sick of the Weather
Last week, when we got off the plane from Tallahassee, we
were greeted by rain in Winston-Salem. At the time we didn't think much of it
because we figured it was just a fitting end to a miserable weekend. However,
it did not stop raining until late Thursday night.
I felt like I was in the scene from the movie Forrest Gump,
where Forrest is describing the different types of rain he encountered in
Vietnam. Just like Forrest we saw every type of rain imaginable, "little bitty
stinging rain, big ole fat rain, rain that flew in from the sides, and sometimes
rain seemed to come up straight from underneath," not to mention thunderstorms
and a constant drizzle that ruined any hope of going outside. Luckily, it was
only five days and not four months, like in the movie.
Rain limits our baseball options severely. Usually,
hitters take hacks in our batting cages under the stadium, and pitchers wait for
a 10-minute window of no rain to get their long toss in. Many of our pitchers
braved the ominous conditions and threw bullpens. Other than that, the only
other baseball related activity we do is lift. In the cages, we play tee and
front toss games to add some competitiveness to the much-needed repetition. It
is not unusual for hitters to go through two or three buckets of balls, not to
mention numerous dry hacks, as we constantly try to perfect our swings.
When the rain finally subsided, we got to play North
Carolina State, or "State" as they are known around here, for a three-game
series. We opened with a doubleheader on Saturday. The first game was one of
the most exciting games that I have been involved in here. We won 11-9 in front
of about 2,500 people. We took a 5-1 lead into the fourth inning, but as I have
learned after four years in the ACC, no lead is safe. State used two big home
runs to take a 6-5 lead. We rallied in the sixth and scored four runs, but once
again left the bases loaded. State refused to fold and scored three runs to tie
the game at nine apiece. We made two quick outs in the eighth and it seemed
like we were destined for extra innings, because all of our doubleheaders seem
to involve at least one extra-inning contest. However, Steve Lefaivre, Jeff
Ruziecki, Ben Ingold and Chris Getz put together a string of singles and we took
an 11-9 lead. Just when we thought we were safe, the first two State hitters
reached base and they were a pitch away from taking the lead again. Adam Hanson
calmed all of our nerves and retired the next three batters in order.
We were looking to build on the emotion of the first game
and win the second game and the series. Unfortunately, State put up seven runs
in the second inning, and we never could shrink the gap. Our only offensive
highlight was Jamie D'Antona's two home runs. We ended up losing 11-2.
On Sunday, I did not get to watch much of the game because
I balanced my time between trying not to throw up in the outfield and actually
throwing up in the clubhouse between innings. My stomach went into knots during
BP, and I thought that it was just the usual butterflies that I get before any
game, but by game time, I was seriously wishing that I would have gotten bacon
on my breakfast biscuit and not sausage.
After the top of the first I went into the locker room and
did my best to get rid of the bad food, with a number of my teammates cheering
me on. (It's amazing how someone throwing up captures the attention of even the
oldest kids.) From a hitting perspective I was actually able to relax at the
plate and just hit because I was so concerned about throwing up in front of
As if this wasn't bad enough, we lost the game 13-6 and
everyone on our team felt sick. State put on another hitting display, launching
seven doubles and three home runs. Our offense was carried by a grand slam by
We now are 21-12 overall and 7-7 in the ACC. Next week we
travel to Appalachian State on Tuesday, play Davidson at home on Thursday, and
then take on Georgia Tech over Easter weekend.
FSU: The Deacons' Demons (4/8/03)
Deacons Go 4-0-Snow (4/1/03)
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)