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Illinois Rallies Past No. 20 Deacs in Eighth

302sports 272 Feb 18
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- No. 20 Wake Forest rallied back from a pair of deficits, but Illinois used a three-run eighth inning to pull ahead for good, 5-2, at David F. Couch Ballpark on Saturday night.

The Demon Deacons (1-1) brought the potential tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth, but a Michael Ludowig flyout was tracked down at the edge of the warning track.

Colin Peluse (Middletown) was solid on the mound and received a no decision. Over 6.0 innings, he conceded two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

Wake Forest didn't record its first hit off Illini (2-0) starter Andy Fisher until the fifth inning, and he finished with 5.2 innings pitched and seven strikeouts, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk.

The Deacs were then quiet against the Illinois bullpen, as Sean Leland tossed 2.1 perfect innings with three strikeouts to earn the win, and Garrett Acton notched the save with a scoreless ninth.

"We just didn't have good at bats," head coach Tom Walter said. "We struck out 10 times and walked twice. We need to have better at bats up and down the lineup. Obviously Muntz had good at bats all day, but I don't know if anybody else put together more than one good at bat. If you're going to build innings, you've got to be able to string quality at bats together. Give Fisher and their bullpen credit, they did a nice job, but we've got to have a better approach than that."

Shane Muntz led the Demon Deacon offense, going 2-for-3 with a triple, and he was also hit by a pitch.

The Illini scored in the fourth inning when on an infield single, an overthrow at first let the runner score from third. 

Muntz and Brendan Tinsman opened the fifth with back-to-back extra-base hits. Muntz tripled off the wall in left-center and Tinsman doubled over the right fielder's head to tie the game at 1-1. Tinsman was sacrificed to third, but a groundout and strikeout ended the threat.

Illinois added a run in the sixth on a Cam McDonald RBI single, but the Deacs answered right back with a Chris Lanzilli double into the right-center gap which brought in the tying run.

After William Fleming retired the Illini in order in the seventh, Illinois was able to get to Ryan Cusick the following inning. With two outs, a McDonald RBI single, Kellen Sarver RBI double and a passed ball put the Illini in front for good.

Bobby Hearn kept the Deacs in the game by throwing a scoreless top of the ninth. Muntz tried to start a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning with a single, followed by a Tinsman walk, but Acton was able to force the game-ending flyout.

Wake Forest wraps up the weekend on Sunday against Georgetown at 2 p.m.