Wake Forest ace Griffin Roberts (Aaron Fitt)


Wake’s Roberts Growing Into True Ace


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest righthander Griffin Roberts owns the best slider in college baseball — at least in my opinion, and probably in his own opinion too. Roberts has supreme confidence in himself, and especially in his slider, an 82-85 mph wipeout pitch with hard, late tilt. Hitters know it’s coming, and he knows they know — but they still seldom hit it. Roberts even said in a 3-2 count, he’ll throw his slider “like 100 percent of the time.” Here it comes; good luck.

Yeah, make me pay. My mentality is it’s gonna win even if they know it’s coming,” Roberts said. “Everybody in the stands knows it’s coming. But I throw it anyway, and this is the first time somebody’s really made me pay on it.”

The person who made him pay Friday night was Louisville’s Drew Campbell, who jumped on a first-pitch Roberts slider for a game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning. It wasn’t a hanger — it was a decent pitch, 83 mph down and in, where Roberts wanted it. But Campbell was ready for it, and hit it.

“That’s the first time anybody’s ever hit my breaking ball over the fence,” Roberts said matter-of-factly. “So props to him — good swing.”

It was like seeing a lightning strike. But fortunately for the Demon Deacons, they are starting to get good at conjuring up their own lightning strikes.

Last Saturday, freshman DJ Poteet delivered a dramatic two-run, walk-off homer to life Wake to a win against Florida State, helping the Deacs sweep a doubleheader. On Friday against Louisville, Poteet struck again, breaking a 1-1 tie with a walk-off homer to right field in the ninth, lifting Wake to a 2-1 win. The one against FSU came on a 1-0 fastball; this time around he took what Roberts called a “g-hack” on a two-strike breaking ball and launched a high, arcing shot over the right-field fence. He wasn’t certain it was going to go out immediately, but the wind helped, and the ball was well-hit (it traveled 389 feet, according to TrackMan). Once Poteet saw the right fielder’s head drop, he sprinted around the bases and tossed his helmet before a teeming mob of Deacs embraced him at home plate.

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