Wake Force: Demon Deacons complete sweep of Clemson with 13-3 rout

Wake Forest is beginning to show why they were the preseason No. 1 team in the nation in every major NCAA college baseball Top 25 poll.

The Demon Deacons stayed hot by getting a second-inning grand slam off Clemson starter Aidan Knaak — one of five home runs they hit on the afternoon — and completing a three-game sweep of the Tigers with a 13-3 run-rule victory in eight innings Sunday at David F. Couch Ballpark in Winston-Salem.

The series is bound to cause a shift at the top of the new Top 25 polls Monday. Clemson was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation (by D1Baseball) while Wake Forest had risen to No. 13 in the USA TODAY Sports baseball coaches poll.

In Sunday’s series finale, Knaak got in trouble in the second inning by allowing two walks and a single to load the bases. With two away, Marek Houston took the first pitch he saw deep to right field for a grand slam home run that gave Wake Forest a 4-0 lead. The Deacs would never trail in the contest.

After Clemson got back in the game with a three-run homer by Tristan Bissetta in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 4-3, Knaak ran into trouble again in the fifth. The right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Jack Winnay and a walk to Seaver King to start the fifth.

Coach Erik Bakich went to his bullpen, and on the first pitch he saw from reliever Jacob McGovern, Jake Reinisch sent a three-run bomb to right to put Wake Forest back ahead by four at 7-3. It was the 16th home run of the season by Reinisch.

An inning later, the Deacs blew the game wide open when Winnay hit a three-run homer off Billy Barlow that made it 10-3.

Wake Forest (36-16 overall, 14-12 ACC) added two more runs in the seventh, including a leadoff homer from Adam Tellier off Barlow that brought the score to 12-3. King hit a home run leading off the bottom of the eighth against Rob Hughes to give Wake Forest the victory — and Clemson its first run-rule loss of the year.

It’s also the first time all season that the Tigers have been swept and only the second time they’ve lost a series.

Knaak (4-1) picked up his first loss of the season in four-plus innings of work, allowing a season-high six runs on five hits. He also walked six batters and struck out four.

Clemson (37-13, 17-10 ACC) used four pitchers in relief with only Chance Fitzgerald working a scoreless inning in the seventh. Wake Forest outhit the Tigers, 12-5. Winnay (3-for-5) had three hits, including his 19th home run of the season.

Houston (2-3) and Reinisch (2-2) also had two hits for the Deacs. Cam Cannarella (2-3) had two hits and a walk for Clemson. Bissetta’s home run was his sixth of the season.

Josh Hartle (6-2) picked up the win for Wake Forest, finishing with three runs allowed on four hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked one.

Wake Forest outscored Clemson, 25-10, in the three-game sweep. The Demon Deacons have won nine straight games.

With the loss, Clemson fell three games behind first-place North Carolina in the ACC standings. The Tar Heels completed a three-game sweep of Louisville Sunday and have won nine of their last 10 games.


The Tigers head to Conway to visit Coastal Carolina in midweek play Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT. The game can be seen on ESPN+.

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire