DURHAM, N.C. – Joe Parsons threw a six-hit shutout, and Jake Atwell drove in three runs to lead Virginia Tech past Duke 9-0 on Sunday afternoon at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Parsons (6-2) a senior right-hander, threw 116 pitches in his first career complete game while striking out five and walking two. He retired 12 of the last 15 batters he faced to give the Hokies (26-20, 9-15 ACC) their eighth ACC road win of the season.
Parsons got plenty of run support from the Virginia Tech offense, which scored four runs over the first four innings and then plated four more in the sixth inning. Atwell had an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run homer in the sixth to cap the Hokies’ four-run rally. Chad Pinder and Chad Morgan combined to reach base six times and scored two runs apiece.
Virginia Tech touched up Duke starter Chase Bebout (2-3) for four runs – two earned – over four innings in Bebout’s first start since he was hit in the wrist with a line drive on March 12 against N.C. State. The Hokies then scored five more runs off of Duke’s bullpen to put away Duke’s shot at a comeback.
The Blue Devils (221-26, 5-19 ACC) got two hits and a stolen base from center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms, but just four hits from the rest of the lineup. Piwnica-Worms swiped his team-leading 18th base of the season for the most by a Duke player since 1995 when Randy Goodroe stole 21.
Virginia Tech took advantage of a costly Duke error in the top of the second to score two unearned runs. With the bases loaded and one out, Morgan slapped a ground ball back to the mound that Bebout knocked down and threw to the plate. Bebout’s throw was just wide, however, and pulled catcher Jeff Kremer off the bag to allow the run to score. Johnny Morales then drove a fly ball to left field that should have been the third out of the inning, but instead went down as a sacrifice fly that ran the Hokie lead to 2-0.
Virginia Tech scored a run in the third and fourth to jump out to a 4-0 lead, and Parsons then shut Duke out for the fourth straight inning. He needed only five pitches to retire the side in order in the fourth and allowed just two hits through his first two frames. Only Piwnica-Worms, who in the second inning singled, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error, advanced past first base in those first four innings.
Duke swapped pitchers in the fifth and brought in Eric Pfisterer to replace Bebout. Pfisterer threw a 1-2-3 fifth, but ran into control issues in the sixth and left the bases loaded with one out for his replacement, Drew Van Orden. Van Orden also had trouble staying in the zone early and let two runs score on wild pitches before Atwell cleared the bases with a two-run homer that put the Hokies on top 8-0. Van Orden settled down after Atwell’s homer, however, and retired the next two hitters to end the inning.
Van Orden put his early command troubles behind him in the seventh and used just four pitches to retire the middle of Virginia Tech’s lineup in order. Unfortunately for Duke, Parsons was nearly as good and worked around a Piwnica-Worms single to keep Duke scoreless for the seventh straight inning.
The Hokies tacked on one more run in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Morgan. Parsons finished off his outing with a 1-2-3 eighth and then worked around a leadoff single by Matt Berezo and a walk in the ninth to complete the shutout.
The Blue Devils will now take a short break for Duke University’s final exam period and will resume play on Sunday, May 8, with a double header against Mount St. Mary’s at Jack Coombs Field.