Originally created 05/18/98

Wake Forest 6, Florida St. 3



DURHAM, N.C. -- Among all the preseason predictions earlier this year, one coach picked Wake Forest to win the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball title -- George Greer.

There probably were more than a few chuckles back in January, considering that the Demon Deacons hadn't won an ACC title in 21 years.

On Sunday, Greer had the last laugh.

"I believed in us the whole year," said Greer, whose Demon Deacons (41-21) are headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1977 following a 6-3 victory over top-seeded Florida State on Sunday.

Just as in 1996, when fifth-seeded Virginia upset Florida State to win its first ACC postseason crown, pitching won it for No. 5 seed Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons got five complete games in six outings from its starters.

In Sunday's title game, freshman left-hander Danny Borrell (3-2), pitched a six-hitter in his first ACC start.

"I said pitching would carry us and it did," said Greer. "It was just great to be able to put out arms like we put out there to complete games. I don't know if that says something about being indecisive about going to the bullpen or not.

"When you've got somebody flowing as well as the kids threw this week, then you just go with them, you have faith with them, go get it and have fun."

The only shaky moment of Borrell's complete-game gem was when he got hit by a pitch above his left elbow while batting as a designated hitter leading off the seventh.

By that time, however, the Demon Deacons had a 6-2 lead. Borrell was able to weather a little pain and numbness to shut down the powerful lineup of the Seminoles (49-18), who will host an NCAA regional next week.

"I was just trying to go out there and throw strikes," Borrell said when asked if he was nervous. "Our team didn't have anything to lose. Florida State is supposed to beat us bad both games, so I was really loose out there."

The top five hitters in the Florida State lineup were a combined 2-for-16 against Borrell.

"Today, Borrell just said, `Hit it boys, if you can hit it,' and we didn't get it done -- plain and simple," said Florida State coach Mike Martin. "It's back yard baseball, here it is boys, can you hit it? We didn't hit it."

"It was more them than us," Martin said of the Wake Forest pitching staff. "They buried the ball inside on us. You have to credit them. Borrell did not pitch like a freshman today."

Meanwhile, Florida State pitcher Chris Chavez -- who had won three tourney games in his career and had given up one earned run in 24 and two-thirds career innings in the ACC postseason -- gave up 10 hits and five earned runs in four and one-third innings to suffer the loss.

"Chris was just a little bit off with a few key pitches," Martin said.

The Seminole batters had another off day as well. Florida State had averaged 11 runs in four previous tourney games before being shut down 2-1 Saturday night on five hits by tourney most valuable player John Hendricks. Wake Forest had won 3-0 against North Carolina earlier in the day.

In contrast to the top of the Florida State order, the key hitters for the Demon Deacons came through again Sunday -- as they did in the five previous tourney games.

The top four hitters for Wake Forest were a combined 10-for-16, with Scott Daeley and Corey Slavik getting three hits each, and Ben Danosky and ACC hitting leader Jon Palmieri tallying two each.

"Maybe making an (NCAA) regional, that was our goal," Palmieri said when asked to look back at the preseason. "But being ACC champions is beyond our wildest dreams."

AUBURN WINS SEC TOURNEY: Arkansas turned a triple play, but it wasn't enough to overcome four errors or Auburn reliever Colter Bean's effort in the Tigers' 7-5 victory Sunday in the Southeastern Conference tournament final.

Bean (4-3) provided a big lift for a depleted Auburn pitching staff, allowing just two runs and five hits over the final five innings as the Tigers (43-16) won their first SEC tournament since 1989.

Casey Dunn went 1-for-3 with three RBI, while Dominic Rich and Scott Pratt had two hits each to lead Auburn.

Arkansas turned the first triple play in SEC tournament history, trailing 6-4 with runners on first and second in the eighth.

Auburn's Chad Wandall lined hard to second baseman Mark Burnett, who doubled Jamie Kersh off first with a soft throw to Rodney Nye. Nye tossed to shortstop Joe Jester to complete Arkansas' first triple play since the 1983 Southwestern Conference tourney.

But that was a rare highlight in the field for the Razorbacks (37-19), who allowed five unearned runs in their poorest defensive effort of the tournament.

Tied at 4, the Tigers took the lead in the seventh on the final Arkansas error.

After Heath Kelly led off with a double, Rich laid down a good bunt just in front of the plate. Pitcher Dan Wright (1-7) fielded the ball and threw to Burnett, who was covering first. Burnett mishandled the throw, which allowed Kelly to score and Rich to take second.

Pratt and Josh Etheredge each followed with groundouts that allowed Rich to move around from second for an insurance run.

Arkansas pulled to within one in the eighth on an RBI single by Nye, who went 2-for-4 and was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. He went 9-for-19 with one homer and eight RBIs over four games.

Auburn got the insurance run back in the ninth on Dunn's RBI single.