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The win, which improved the Hokies to 23-12 overall and 8-10 in league play, was the seventh straight for Virginia Tech, as well as the fifth consecutive ACC win. With 23 victories, the Hokies have already matched their highest win total since 2004, when they went 29-27. Tech also won 23 games in 2005, 2007 and 2008. The eight conference wins marks Tech’s highest total in league play since joining the ACC prior to the 2005 campaign.
Starting pitcher Rhett Ballard led the charge for the Hokies, tossing seven innings for the second consecutive outing to improve his record to 5-2. He allowed two runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out seven – his highest total since Feb. 27. Sophomore Sean McDermott took care of the rest, pitching one-hit ball over the final two frames to pick up his first-career save.
At the dish, designated hitter Steve Domecus returned from a two-game injury hiatus with a pair of hits and two runs scored, while right fielder Mike Kaminski also recorded two hits, including his second triple, to go with two RBIs. Shortstop Ronnie Shaban and left fielder Klint Reed added two hits apiece for the Hokies.
The Tigers (25-13, 11-8 ACC) took a brief 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when center fielder Addison Johnson lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate second baseman Mike Freeman, who had tripled with one out.
But an RBI single by Tech first baseman Austin Wates tied things up in the home half of the third. After Shaban led off with his team-leading 13th double, Wates delivered a two-out base knock to center field four batters later to bring him home.
Thanks to a pair of costly Clemson errors, Tech scored twice in the sixth inning to take 3-1 lead. After Domecus led off with a single, he advanced all the way to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Clemson starting pitcher Chris Dwyer. Kaminski promptly singled him home, but was soon caught stealing second base. Second baseman Michael Seaborn followed with a base hit of his own, before moving to third on Shaban’s poke to center field. Clemson’s center fielder attempted to nail Kaminski at third on the play, but the throw got away and allowed Kaminski to get up and race home for an unearned run on Dwyer, who fell to 4-3 with the loss.
Clemson got one of those runs back in the top of the seventh with a solo home run by right fielder Wilson Boyd, but the Hokies put up another two-spot in the bottom half to set what proved to be the final score. Wates got things started when he walked with one out and motored to third on a double by catcher Anthony Sosnoskie. Though Sosnoskie was picked off at second with Domecus at the plate, Domecus responded by bringing home Wates with a base knock to right. It was then that Kaminski delivered his run-scoring triple.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
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