Virginia Tech Baseball Goes 1-2 Against No. 9 Duke

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Virginia Tech baseball
Virginia Tech celebrates Friday night’s walk-off winner by J.D. Mundy. (photo courtesy hokiesports.com)

Virginia Tech baseball (18-26, 8-16 ACC) baseball had its chance to win an ACC series for the first time since the first series of the year against Pittsburgh in early March. Instead, after winning the Friday night game against No. 9 Duke (33-11, 15-8) 4-3 in 11 innings, Virginia Tech dropped the final two games on Saturday and Sunday, by scores of 11-5 and 7-0.

It’s now the sixth ACC series out of eight in which the Hokies have won one out of three games.

It appeared that maybe Virginia Tech had turned the corner in the Friday night extra inning win. J.D. Mundy’s walk-off single sent the Hokies celebrating. Ian Seymour, Luke Scherzer, and Joey Sullivan combined for a line of 11.0 innings, three earned runs, no walks, and 10 strikeouts.

“Credit our pitchers, we didn’t walk a batter the whole night,” said head coach John Szefc. “We gave up three runs in 11 innings. That’s a great pitching performance by three different guys.”

Over his last two starts, the freshman Seymour has now fired 14.0 innings and only given up one run with 12 strikeouts. The southpaw leads the Hokies with a 3.18 earned run average.

On Saturday afternoon, all the momentum from Friday night’s thrilling victory wore off down the stretch. Tied 5-5 after six, the Blue Devils scored three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to win 11-5 and make a back-and-forth affair look like a blowout. Virginia Tech used seven different pitchers in the contest and walked nine batters. All 11 Duke runs were earned.

In the Sunday rubber match, the Hokies’ bats went silent as they could only muster five hits the entire game in the 7-0 shutout. Duke’s Ryan Day frustrated the Virginia Tech lineup from the start, collecting 7.0 innings, no walks, and six strikeouts. Ethan DeCaster and Jack Labosky finished the last two innings, earning the shutout for the Blue Devils. DeCaster and Labosky have combined to only give up one earned run over 59.0 innings in 32 appearances out of the bullpen. Sam Fragale’s 14 game hitting streak was snapped in the process.

Now, Virginia Tech will have two mid-week games (home vs. VMI and at Liberty) before resting on the weekend due to exam week. The short turnaround won’t allow the Hokies the chance to sulk over the missed opportunity for too long.

“I really don’t know what’s good as far as that goes,” Szefc said. “Normally when you’re not having a whole lot of success, it’s good to get back out, it’s good to play at home.”

The Hokies continue to work for one of the 12 available spots in the ACC Baseball Championship, held May 22-27 in Durham, NC. Virginia Tech is currently last in the ACC Coastal standings, one game behind Virginia, and the Hokies have the 13th best record in the 14-team ACC.

First pitch from English Field at Union park is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday against VMI. The Keydets beat the Hokies 9-7 on a walk-off home run earlier this year in Lexington.

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