DURHAM, N.C. – After winning the ACC opener Friday evening, Duke split a doubleheader with Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Junior Michael Smiciklas notched a walkoff 10th-inning single to propel Duke to a 6-5 win in game one before the Hokies held off a Duke rally late to pick up a 7-5 game two decision.
In addition, Labosky (1-0) pitched the final three innings in game one to earn his first win of the year, while left-handers James Ziemba and Nick Hendrix made scoreless appearances out of the bullpen in both contests.
“The reality is, we won the series,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “It’s what you set out to do every weekend in the ACC. It’s hard to sweep an ACC series. It’s especially hard when you have to do it the doubleheader route. I have no issues with the way our guys competed. I thought we competed great. If we play like that week in and week out and we complete like that week in and week out, this is going to be a really good ball club.”
Junior Chris Proctor singled to lead off the 10th and scored the game-winning run after Smiciklas bounced a base hit up the middle to register Duke’s 6-5 extra inning victory.
“I had seen [Joey Sullivan] for at least a couple of batters,” said Smiciklas. “Our hitters did a good job grinding him out so I was able to see a lot of pitches. He started me off with breaking pitches low and I was looking for something elevated. He’s a really good pitcher, but he left it a little bit up and luckily I squared it up.”
Similar to Friday’s ACC opener, Duke (10-8, 2-1 ACC) jumped out to an early first-inning lead. Each of the first four Blue Devils reached base and scored to start the ballgame. Herron walked and Zack Kone singled to start things off. Griffin Conine and Labosky then registered back-to-back two-out base knocks to begin the scoring. Miller lined a two-run double into the left center gap to bring home Duke’s third and fourth runs.
Hokie starter Andrew McDonald would settle down after the first, yielding two hits his final four innings while fanning nine. In total, McDonald allowed four runs on six hits with 11 strikeouts to just one walk.
Following four shutout frames, freshman starter Adam Laskey ran into trouble to begin the fifth. An infield hit, double and walk loaded the bases before Tom Stoffel’s two-run single bounced off first base to allude Justin Bellinger. San Fragale added a sacrifice fly, trimming the advantage 4-3. Ziemba assumed the mound and struck out two Hokies to work out of the jam.
The Hokies loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, but only scored on run – on a Garett Hudson sacrifice fly.
Herron’s third homer of the year escaped the DBAP over the Blue Monster to re-establish Duke’s margin, 5-4. The back-and-forth affair continued the next inning as Virginia Tech tied the score five-all following a Duke throwing error and Tom Stoffel RBI double.
Neither team scored in the ninth and Labosky turned in his third straight scoreless inning to give Duke a chance in the 10th.
Proctor lined the first pitched he saw up the middle to greet the bottom of the 10th. A Miller sac bunt and Erikson Nichols grounder advanced the runner to third with two outs prior to Smiciklas’ game-winning single.
Virginia Tech broke a 3-3 tie with a four-run seventh then held off a Duke rally to avoid the sweep and secure the nightcap, 7-5.
Herron’s two-run single trimmed the margin to two in the eighth, and with the bases loaded and two outs, Conine sent a ball deep to center field. Virginia Tech center fielder Raheim Cooper would rob Conine of the bases-clearing extra base hit, making a leaping catch at the warning track to nullify the threat.
“Griffin’s ball to center field, if it’s a foot higher, a foot to the left, a foot to the right, you clear the bases and it’s 8-7. The second game was kind of back and forth affair, then [Virginia Tech] scored the four in the top of the seventh. We had an answer in the bottom of the eighth. We were really close to having a complete answer. Cooper made a terrific play for them in center field.”
The two teams traded runs in the early going to result in the three-all stalemate coming down the stretch. Cooper began the seventh with a hit and wound up scoring later on a squeeze play. Stoffel belted a two-run homer in the inning and Mac Caples added an RBI base knock to turn the game to a 7-3, Hokie lead.
Tech starter Nick Anderson (3-1) recorded the win with a quality start, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings. Duke freshman Matt Mervis (0-1) suffered the loss, yielding two runs on a hit in the seventh.
Four contests in to a nine-game home stand, the Blue Devils return to the DBAP Wednesday, March 15 to host East Carolina at 6 p.m., on ACC Network Extra.