DURHAM, N.C. – Ignited by a Griffin Conine first-inning home run, Duke put double digit runs on the board in a 10-1 victory over Virginia Tech in the ACC opener for both teams Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Conine’s first career bomb scored two in the first and Duke (9-7, 1-0 ACC) plated at least one run in 5-of-8 frames to outhit a Hokie club that entered the contest as the national leader in home runs. Duke totaled 17 hits on the day while the Blue Devil pitching staff limited the potent Virginia Tech (9-7, 0-1 ACC) offense to four.
Conine finished the afternoon a triple shy of the cycle and classmate Zack Kone posted a 4-for-5 outing to pace a contingent of five Blue Devils with multiple hits. First baseman Justin Bellinger, second baseman Max Miller and catcher Chris Proctor added two hits each as well.
After Conine’s two-run homer gave Duke the 2-0 first-inning lead, the Blue Devils plated three more runs in the second to garner a comfortable 5-0 margin after two. Kone and Conine both contributed two RBI base hits in the frame.
Virginia Tech’s Packy Naughton (1-2) pitched five innings in the loss, allowing six runs on 11 hits despite striking out nine. Duke had at least two hits in all but one inning versus Naughton.
Junior Mitch Stallings (1-1) scattered four hits over six shutout innings in the win. After getting off the field with the bases loaded in the fourth, the left-hander retired eight batters in a row, fanning the final four. Stallings finished the day with eight strikeouts and one walk.
“Number one, we didn’t let [Packy] Naughton off the hook with two outs there in the second inning,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We scored a couple there and then we they loaded the bases in the top of the fourth, I thought that was a defining moment in the game. Mitch [Stallings] handled that situation really well … stayed in the moment, competed one pitch at a time. [We] didn’t allow a run in the top, had an answer in the bottom and built on it from there.”
Kone singled and scored in the fourth before Conine doubled and came home in the sixth to extend the Duke advantage, 7-0. Aided by a Virginia Tech throwing error, Duke added three more runs to finish the seventh. Sophomore Chris Proctor notched a seventh-inning RBI single and junior Jack Labosky added a two-run base knock of his own.
Virginia Tech used three walks, a balk and a wild pitch to score its only run of the game in the eighth.
Duke and Virginia Tech meet Saturday, March 11 in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m., on ACC Network Extra.