DURHAM, N.C. – The series is now evened as the Duke baseball team split the first two games with Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field on Duke’s campus.
In game one, the Blue Devils (19-16, 7-10 ACC) used a spectacular pitching effort to claim a 4-0 victory in a contest that was resumed in the bottom of the fourth after being suspended Friday evening due to inclement weather. The Hokies (21-15, 6-11 ACC) battled back in the nightcap, responding with a solid pitching performance of their own to secure a 6-2 victory and even the series.
Duke and Virginia Tech return to the diamond tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. for the decisive game three of the series at Jack Coombs Field. The contest, which was originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch, has been pushed up due to the threat of inclement weather in the forecast Sunday afternoon. The series finale will be broadcasted live on ACC Network Extra, which can be accessed through WatchESPN.com or the ESPN app.
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Duke 4, Virginia Tech 0 (Game One)
Picking up in the bottom of the fourth and up by one after it was suspended Friday due to lightning, the Blue Devils added a trio of insurance runs across the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to protect their lead and secure the 4-0 victory in shutout fashion.
Duke made the first move when the game got underway on Friday afternoon, plating a run in the second to grab the early lead. The Blue Devils loaded the bases using back-to-back singles from juniors Chase Cheek and Erikson Nichols before freshman Rudy Maxwell reached on a hit-by-pitch. In the next at-bat, freshman Ethan Murray sent a bloop single into shallow center field to cross the game’s first run and give Duke the 1-0 lead.
The Blue Devils would keep their one-run lead in tact heading into the home half of the fourth before lightning halted the contest for the remainder of the day.
Play resumed at 4:15 p.m., Saturday afternoon, with the Blue Devils adding single tallies in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to widen the margin and pad the lead.
Cheek began the sixth with a leadoff walk before advancing into scoring position on his 14th stolen base of the season. After Nichols reached on a hit-by-pitch to place runners on first and second, sophomore Michael Rothenberg laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners 90 feet. Murray used the next at-bat to record his second RBI of the contest with a sacrifice fly to right field, moving Duke ahead 2-0.
Senior Kennie Taylor began the scoring sequence in the seventh, sending a one-out triple to right field. In the very next at-bat, junior Matt Mervis collected his third hit of the ballgame with a single through the right side to score Taylor and push the advantage to 3-0.
With one down in the eighth, Murray ripped a double down the right field line. After advancing to third on a groundout, the Duke freshman came across to score on a wild pitch to set the score at 4-0, the eventual final.
The trio of graduate student Ben Gross, and sophomores Matt Dockman and Thomas Girard combined for the shutout effort, marking the Blue Devils fourth shutout of the season. Gross (5-2) picked up his team-leading fifth win of the season, tossing the first 4.0 innings, allowing only one hit while collecting five strikeouts before his outing was cut short due to the lightning.
Dockman began the day on Saturday and worked 3.0 innings, yielding one hit on five strikeouts, marking his third consecutive scoreless relief outing. Girard shut the door for the Blue Devils, covering the final two frames, surrendering two hits while recording two strikeouts to notch his fifth save of the season.
Virginia Tech 6, Duke 2 (Game Two)
The Hokies began the scoring in game two of the series, plating a run in the first to jump out to an early 1-0 lead. The inning began with a leadoff single up the middle from the Virginia Tech leadoff man. One out later, a single to center field placed runners on first and second for the Hokies. A sacrifice fly in the next at-bat brought across the game’s first run.
Virginia Tech added three runs across the fourth and the fifth innings to extend its lead, starting with a pair of runs in the fourth. A single to center gave the Hokies a two-out baserunner to set up a two-run home run to left field in the following at-bat, making it a 3-0 ballgame.
The Hokies returned in the fifth to put up a single tally in the frame. After a leadoff single, a Duke fielding miscue on a sacrifice bunt attempt placed runners on first and second with no outs. Two outs later, a double to left field allowed a run to cross to extend the Virginia Tech lead to 4-0.
The Blue Devils responded in the next half, plating a pair of runs to trim the deficit. Nichols began the scoring sequence with a leadoff double to right center to give Duke a runner in scoring position. After a fly out went as the first out of the inning, Murray lined a RBI double to left center to score one and put the Blue Devils in the scoring column. One out later, sophomore Joey Loperfido brought one run across on his first triple of the season to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Virginia Tech answered back with two runs of its own in the sixth to push its lead back to four. After a hit-by-pitch to lead off the inning, a double placed runners on second and third for the Hokies. One out later, a fielder’s choice allowed a run to score. A groundout brought across the inning’s second run to set the tally at 6-2, the eventual final.
Virginia Tech starter Nic Enright (1-1) picked up his first win of the season, tossing 5.2 finnings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks while collecting eight punchouts. Jaison Heard notched the save for the Hokies, covering the remaining 3.1 frames, holding the Blue Devils hitless across the effort.
Junior Bill Chillari (2-2) suffered the loss in the contest, working 5.0 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits. The trio of junior Eli Herrick, and freshmen Jack Carey and Aaron Beasley combined to go the final four frames, holding the Hokies scoreless to keep the game within striking distance.