DURHAM, N.C. - A five-run first inning gave Virginia Tech a lead it would not relinquish as the Duke baseball team fell to the Hokies, 14-7, Saturday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Blue Devils cut the deficit to three runs in both the second and seventh innings, but the Hokies were able to answer on both occasions.
"You don't try and get them all back in one swing," said head coach Chris Pollard. "You keep trying to score a couple here, score a couple there. You realize when you do that, you all of sudden get back in to the ball game. We did that a couple times. Unfortunately, every time we answered [Virginia Tech] had an answer."
The Hokies sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the first, scoring five runs on six hits. Right fielder Gary Schneider singled on the first pitch of the game and four-straight Virginia Tech players recorded a hit with one out to plate the first three runs of the game. With the bases loaded, shortstop Alex Perez snuck a base hit inside the third base line to make it 5-0 in favor of the Hokies.
Duke got one back in the first as sophomore second baseman Andy Perez lifted his first career home run over the Blue Monster in left field. Junior third baseman Jordan Betts followed suit in the bottom of the second, leading off the inning with a solo shot of his own to cut the Virginia Tech lead to 5-2. The home run was Betts' fourth this season and ninth of his career.
The Hokies answered with a run in both the third and fourth innings before adding a pair in the sixth to extend their lead to 9-2.
Despite the deficit, Duke continued to battle and scored four runs over the sixth and seventh innings. First baseman Chris Marconcini doubled to lead off the sixth and advanced to third on a Grant McCabe infield single. Catcher Ryan Munger recorded the first RBI of the inning, plating Marconcini on a grounder to short, before left fielder Mark Lumpa laced a single to center to bring home McCabe.
The Blue Devils added two more runs in the seventh on a Marconcini two-run homer to right field to cut Virginia Tech's advantage to 9-6. Marconcini leads Duke with five home runs on the season and has totaled nine for his career.
Duke was unable to pull any closer, however, as the Hokies scored three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth. Virginia Tech totaled 16 hits on the day, led by Tyler Horan's 4-for-5 performance. The Tech left fielder belted two triples in the game, adding two RBI and three runs scored.
"They hit some balls hard last night right at people, and today they squared some balls up but they also had some soft contact that fell in," said Pollard. "That's part of baseball. Even with that, we still battled our way back into the ball game. We cut the lead in half a couple times. We got it to 9-6. We got ourselves in position to be able to make a run. I thought our guys kept of fighting at the plate the whole game. When you're digging yourself out of hole against a good team with a good arm, you're fighting an uphill battle."
Junior Drew Van Orden (1-2) took the loss for Duke. The right-hander went 2.1 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits and three walks. Devin Burke (5-0) secured his fifth win of the season for the Hokies, allowing four runs on eight hits over six innings.
The Blue Devils and the Hokies will wrap up the series Sunday. The series finale is slated for a 1 p.m., start at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.