Shortstop Jake Lemmerman homered for the second straight day in Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech. It was the 20th career home run for Lemmerman, which ranks 14th on the all-time list at Duke. His 11 homers this year are tied for 11th-most in a single season.
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth, Virginia Tech exploded for six runs in the inning – highlighted by a three-run homer from first baseman Ronnie Shaban – as the 15th-ranked Hokies defeated the Duke Blue Devils, 18-8, on Saturday afternoon at English Field. The Hokies improve to 36-15 overall and 16-10 in the ACC, while the Blue Devils fall to 28-24 and 7-19.
The Blue Devils got on the board early, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. After falling behind in the count 0-2, first baseman Dennis O'Grady lined a one-out double to left on a 3-2 pitch. Shortstop Jake Lemmerman then belted a 2-0 fastball to deep left field for a two-run homer. It was the second home run in as many days for Lemmerman and the team-leading 11th long ball of the season. Lemmerman’s three-run jack in Friday’s game accounted for all of Duke’s runs. It was the 20th career home run for Lemmerman, which ranks 14th on the all-time list at Duke. The 11 homers this year are tied for 11th-most in a single season.
Duke added another two-run homer in the top half of the second to extend their lead to 4-0. Third baseman Jonathan Foreman reached base on a one-out single to left. Leftfielder Ben Grisz then turned on a 2-1 offering and blasted a two-run jack to left. It was the first career homer for Grisz.
Shaban drew a one-out walk for the Hokies in the bottom of the second. After shortstop Tim Smalling singled through the left side, designated hitter Andrew Rash singled to load the bases. Second baseman Michael Seaborn followed with a grand slam to left to tie the game at 4-4.
The Blue Devils reclaimed the lead in the top of the third. Right fielder Jeremy Gould had a two-out standup double to left. Designated hitter Will Currier then reached on an error by Smalling to give Duke runners at the corners. Second baseman Marcus Stroman followed with an RBI-single to left to give Duke the lead at 5-4.
The Hokies threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the third but were unable to. After a leadoff double to left by catcher Steve Domecus, right fielder Austin Wates was hit by a pitch. Duke starter Eric Pfisterer then got Shaban to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Pfisterer would then walk Smalling, giving Tech runners at the corners, before striking out Rash to end the inning.
Duke centerfielder Will Piwnica-Worms scored on a balk in the top of the fourth, giving the Blue Devils a two-run lead at 6-4.
Virginia Tech got a two-run bases-loaded single from Domecus, a three-run homer from Shaban and an RBI-double from Rash in a six-run fourth inning to take a 10-6 lead.
Duke responded with a pair of runs in the top half of the fifth to make it a 10-8 ballgame. Foreman had a two-out single to left center and Grisz drew a walk to get the inning going. Catcher Ryan McCurdy then laced an RBI-single to center to bring in Foreman. Piwnica-Worms followed with an RBI-single through the left side to plate Grisz.
The Hokies added four unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to push their lead to 14-8.
Shaban had an RBI-single and Smalling added a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh to extend the Virginia Tech lead to 16-8.
Domecus added an RBI-double and Wates had an RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth to account for the final margin.
Virginia Tech’s Marc Zecchino improved to 1-1 after limiting Duke to two runs on four hits in five innings of relief. Starter Mathew Price gave up six runs, five earned, on nine hits in four innings.
Pfisterer fell to 3-6 on the season after allowing seven runs on five hits in 3.1 innings of work. He walked five and struck out two in the start.
O’Grady paced the Blue Devils at the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Foreman went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, McCurdy was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Grisz finished 1-for-3 with a two-run homer and two runs scored. Lemmerman went 1-for-4 with a two-run jack, Stroman was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Piwnica-Worms had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. Gould added a double and a run scored and catcher Ryan Munger singled in his only at-bat for Duke.
The Blue Devils and Hokies will wrap up their series on Sunday at 1 p.m. O’Grady (1-4, 4.73 ERA) is slated to face righty Jesse Hahn (5-2, 2.81 ERA) in the series finale.