BLACKSBURG, Va. – Three Blue Devils homered in a game that seesawed back and forth until No. 13 Duke broke away late for the 11-5 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon at English Field at Union Park. Three of Duke’s nine hits left the ballpark as the Blue Devils evened the series with the Hokies heading into Sunday’s series finale.
Freshman Joey Loperfido and junior Zack Kone both sent solo shots over the left field fence while junior Chris Proctor drilled a two-run homer to right. Saturday’s contest marked the third time this season Duke (32-11, 14-8 ACC) has homered three times in a single game.
“It shows some resilience especially considering the fact that we get the lead, lose the lead, get the lead, lose the lead,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Our guys never buckled. Just stayed in the moment and kept playing. I was proud of the way we played through it and got the big innings late.”
Loperfido started the scoring in the second, sending a solo shot the opposite way for his sixth home run of the season. The next three Blue Devils – Griffin Conine, Max Miller and Jack Labosky – all reached, setting the stage for a Michael Smiciklas sacrifice fly and Kennie Taylor RBI single to cap a three-run second frame.
JD Mundy’s solo homer in the second put Virginia Tech (18-25, 8-15 ACC) on the board. Stevie Mangrum and Jake Owens both walked and scored on Sam Fragale’s two-run third-inning double to even the score before a Nick Menken sac fly put the Hokies up, 4-3.
Kone’s fifth-inning leadoff longball knotted the score, but the Hokies took the lead again on Nick Owens’ bases-loaded RBI sac bunt before starter Mitch Stallings evaded further damage.
Stallings pitched five complete in the no decision. He allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits, struck out three and walked four.
“That wasn’t Mitch’s best outing of his career but it was a gutty one,” Pollard said. “He was a grinder and he gave us five innings. We were in the ballgame when he came off the field.”
A seventh-inning leadoff walk to Herron was the first of five free passes issued by the Hokies in the frame. Proctor doubled behind Herron and Loperfido lifted a sacrifice fly before the next four Blue Devils reached via three walks and a hit batter to plate two more runs.
Proctor’s two-run home run the next inning preceded a two-out Miller RBI single. Those two hits provided the final knockout punch in the form of a three-run eighth.
Freshman Bryce Jarvis (3-1) entered the game in a five-all tie and retired all six batters he faced over two clean innings to earn the win. Labosky followed suit and faced the minimum over two innings to close out the game.
“A huge shot in the arm for this team was the job by Bryce Jarvis,” Pollard added. “He allowed our bullpen to stay fresh. We didn’t have to get anybody else up in the middle innings. That protects us into tomorrow. I thought it was a terrific outing by Bryce Jarvis.”
Virginia Tech used seven pitchers in the contest with all but one allowing at least a run. Dylan Hall (3-3) suffered the loss, permitting two run on one hit over 2.1 innings.
Duke and Virginia Tech conclude the weekend series at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 29 on ACC Network Extra.