Ben Breazeale Home Run Keeps Wake Forest Alive, Forces Game Three of Super Regional

Photo Wake Forest Athletics

GAINESVILLE, FL- It was gone as soon as it left the bat. Facing a full count and a runner on first in the bottom of the 11th inning, Wake Forest catcher Ben Breazeale saw the pitch and sent it over the scoreboard in right-center field, propelling the Demon Deacons to an 8-6 victory over the Gators in the second game of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional at McKethan Stadium.

The Demon Deacons got off to a hot start, with first baseman Gavin Sheets and catcher Breazeale crushing back-to-back home runs over the right field wall against UF starting pitcher Jackson Kowar to take a commanding 4-0 lead. In the first inning alone, Wake Forest hit Kowar five times.

The Gators struck back in the top of the third inning after UF second baseman Deacon Liput hit a two-run home run over the right-center wall to cut the lead in half. In the top of the fifth, Wake Forest pitcher Connor Johnstone loaded up the bases, allowing a single from Liput and a sac-fly from shortstop Dalton Guthrie to tie the score.

The rain came pouring down right after, prompting the game to be postponed until Monday, with a third game, if necessary, to take place 55 minutes after the end.

The rain delay didn’t seem to affect Wake Forest at all, as it continued right where it left off with a Johnny Aiello home run, but the Gators tied it up the next inning after outfielder Austin Langworthy flew out to left field to bring in first baseman Jonathan India.

And in the seventh and eighth innings, both teams continued to trade scores, as both Aiello and UF catcher JJ Schwarz hit home runs to keep the game tied. Both teams had its chances to score in the tenth, with Florida loading up the bases and Wake Forest putting a runner on second, but the game-winner would come in the 11th with Breazeale’s walk-off homer.

Unlike the first game of the Super Regional, both Wake Forest and Florida’s pitchers couldn’t keep the game low-scoring.
The Gators went with Kowar to start, who allowed ten hits, five runs and three home runs in 4.2 innings pitched. UF then went to Langworthy, who let up three hits in 1.1 innings, before going to Kirby McMullen. After a quick home run and a walk, Tyler Dyson came in to pitch two innings, keeping Wake Forest hitless while striking out three.

UF closer Michael Byrne pitched the rest of the game, going two innings and giving up three hits and two runs off Breazeale’s home run.

For the Demon Deacons, Johnstone pitched four innings with four hits and four runs allowed before being pulled for Chris Farish. The Houston, Texas, native got them out of the fifth inning before the game was postponed to Monday.

Wake Forest came back the next day with Donnie Sellers, Jr., who had a rough start, allowing a run in the bottom of the sixth before settling in. He went four innings, allowing three hits and two runs before the Demon Deacons went with Griffin Roberts in the tenth. After he loaded up the bases, Colin Peluse pitched the rest of the game for the Demon Deacons, which included getting out of a bases-loaded jam.

With the win, Wake Forest forced a third game in the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional. That game will start at 4:14 p.m. today, and the winner will be the last team to move on to Omaha for the College World Series.