Hokies even series with 8-5 win over Duke
Wright goes eight strong, O'Brien hits eighth homer
May 16, 2008
Baseball vs. Duke
W, 8-5 :: Box Score

BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech Hokies capitalized on Duke's three errors, two balks and one wild pitch, while getting another solid performance out of freshman pitcher Justin Wright, to register an 8-5 ACC win on Friday evening at English Field.

Wright, who defeated No. 1 Miami a week ago with a complete game, tossed eight innings this time around to improve his record to 4-0. The lefty from Chesterfield, Va., scattered five runs on 12 hits and three walks, but struck out four and kept the game in control until his exit in the ninth.

Now at 23-31, the Hokies have an identical record to 2007 and have equaled their highest win total since joining the ACC (They also won 23 games in 2005). At 6-23 in conference play, Tech has a chance on Saturday to also match its league record from a season ago.

Seniors Matt Hacker (Richmond, Va.) and Sean O'Brien (Chappaqua, N.Y.) paced an eight-hit Tech attack with two hits each. Hacker doubled and scored a run, while O'Brien tied third baseman Michael Seaborn for the team lead in home runs with his eighth - a two-run shot in the third inning.

Christopher Manno took the loss for Duke to fall to 6-2, while center fielder/relief pitcher Alex Hassan led the way on offense by going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and his fourth round-tripper of the season. With the loss, the Blue Devils dropped to 36-18-1 (9-18-1 ACC) and have been eliminated from ACC Tournament contention.

Hassan got things started as Duke's second hitter of the game when he lifted a no-doubter over the left-center field fence to give the Blue Devils a quick, 1-0 lead in the top of the first.

Back-to-back singles by catcher Matt Williams and left fielder Jeremy Gould had runners on first and third for the Blue Devils in the top of the second, and shortstop Jake Lemmerman followed two batters later with a sac fly to deep center field that plated Williams.

The Hokies picked up a pair of runs in their half of the second to knot the game at two. After right fielder Klint Reed (Chesterfield, Va.) reached with a two-out single, designated hitter Jose Cueto (Miami, Fla.) lifted a pop-up into the swirling wind that dropped into shallow center between three Blue Devil fielders and allowed the speedy Reed to score from first. Cueto then moved to third on a balk by Manno and eluded a tag by Williams near home plate on an ensuing wild pitch.

The tie was short-lived, however, as a third-inning base knock by Duke DH Jonathan Nicolla scored Hassan, who had walked and moved to second on a walk by first baseman Nate Freiman.

Tech first baseman O'Brien continued the back-and-forth scoring in the bottom of the third when, with shortstop Hacker on second after a double, he lifted a fly ball to center field that rode the wind just over a leaping Hassan's out-stretched glove and out of the park for his eighth home run - all of which have come in ACC play.

Tech kept its 4-3 lead until adding another tally in the sixth. After O'Brien led off with a single and second baseman Austin Wates (Richmond, Va.) flied out, Seaborn (Atlanta, Ga.) ripped a double into right field that delivered O'Brien to home for Tech's fifth run.

Center fielder Sean Ryan (Ashburn, Va.) extended Tech's lead to 6-3 in the seventh when he plated left fielder Steve Bumbry (Cockeysville, Md.) on a sacrifice fly to left. Bumbry had led off with a double and advanced to third on a ground out to second by catcher Chris Kay (Marietta, Ga.).

The Blue Devils notched a run in the eighth with an RBI single by Lemmerman, who blasted a shot through the right side of the infield to score Tom Luciano, who had come on to pinch run for Nicolla four batters earlier.

Tech got that run back plus one more in the bottom of the eighth to take an 8-4 lead. Wates led off with a walk and came all the way around to score when the Duke shortstop threw the ball into right field in an attempt to nab Seaborn at first. Seaborn advanced to second on that error and then to third on an errant throw by the right fielder on the same play. After Reed grounded out, Matt Blow (Richmond, Va.) came on to pinch hit and delivered a sac fly to right field to score Seaborn.

Right-hander Rob Waskiewicz (Manchester, Md.) relieved Wright in the ninth and balked home Duke's McCurdy to make it 8-5, but settled down to retire his final three batters to clinch the win for the Hokies.

The Hokies are scheduled to conclude the series with Duke - and their 2008 season - on Saturday at 1 p.m.