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Timely Reinforcements?

By Nicholas Dioli

We are about halfway through the college baseball season, and so far the preseason #1 team has not lived up to the expectations.

There are a few things you can point out as to why this Wake Forest squad has not been all it's cracked up to be. The rotation has not been as dominant as last years. Since conference play Josh Hartle has struggled, but has slowly improved. Sunday starter, Michael Massey has dealt with back issues since the conference opener against Duke, and missed the next start against Virginia. But since he has been back, his pitch count has been going further and further into games.

You can also point out that Nick Kurtz has been slow out of the gate. No fault to his own, pitchers are just not throwing to him because they don't have too, like they did last year because of a stacked lineup behind him. How can you tell? Before his shoulder injury, he was leading the ACC in walks by 10 to the next guy. The first game back from injury against Liberty, he wet 0-1 with 4 walks...

But the obvious outlier has been the inexperienced bullpen. In these conference games, the bullpen has given up leads that have been so bad, that the opponents lead would be too far out of reach. You can just look at the mid-week game against Coastal Carolina... this video will explain. It's been an ongoing theme this year.

There have been some questionable roster moves/cuts that head coach Tom Walter made before the season when he knew that experienced guys would not start the season due to injury. Experience will always outweigh talent no matter what. Right now, the talent isn't showing in this years bullpen of freshmen and sophomores.

After being swept by North Carolina at home, this was by far the lowest point of the season for the Demon Deacons. Even with Nick Kurtz hitting two home runs on Sunday and getting back into the groove of things, it wasn't enough to salvage the bullpen miscues. Even Wake's most reliable arm out of the bullpen so far, Will Ray, had his first major hiccup on Sunday.

But did Wake find a spark against UNC Greensboro on Tuesday? The long anticipated wait of Cole Roland and Crawford Wade was finally upon us, and they did not disappoint. But thew a scoreless inning, and let's just say Cole was back to his crazy antics on the mound when he closed out the game.

Was this the spark the Deacs needed? Not only getting two guys back from injury to help salvage the bullpen, but also Nick Kurtz hitting three home runs in two games, and the rotation is starting to figure it out. Maybe. One thing we know is that there is major upside to this Wake Forest club, and now would be a good time to turn things around. The Deacs will be on the road at Blacksburg this weekend to take on the upstart #11 Virginia Tech Hokies. A series they need to win desperately after a 1-3 ACC series start.


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