GREENSBORO, N.C. – Behind a complete-game, 15-strikeout performance from starting pitcher Justin Wright, sixth-seeded Virginia Tech knocked off third-seeded Georgia Tech, 6-2, in the sixth game of the ACC Championship on Thursday night at NewBridge Bank Park.
In throwing his second complete game of the season and the fourth of his career, Wright helped the 18th-ranked Hokies improve to 37-19 on the year, while the sixth-ranked Yellow Jackets fell to 44-12. It was Virginia Tech’s third win over Georgia Tech this year, and its eighth-win over a top-10 team.
Wright, who was voted to the All-ACC second team on Monday, out-dueled Georgia Tech starting pitcher and first-team All-ACC member Deck McGuire. The junior left-hander’s 15 strikeouts not only topped his old career-high of 10, but fell just three shy of both the tournament and Virginia Tech single-game records of 18. By fanning 15 Yellow Jackets, he equaled the most strikeouts by a Hokie since Ryan Kennedy struck out 15 against Navy on Feb. 20, 2005. The Montclair, Va., native allowed just two runs on four hits and two walks, while improving his record to 8-4.
The Hokies only collected six hits of their own, but they made them count. Three of them – including home runs by Austin Wates and Michael Seaborn – came off of McGuire, who also walked four batters in surrendering four runs. McGuire struck out seven over six innings and took the loss to fall to 8-4.
The Hokies wasted little time in time jumping out to a 2-0 lead, using a bomb to right field by Wates in the top of first to open the game’s scoring. Wates, who homered off of McGuire the last time he faced him in Atlanta on April 23, did so again when he took a 1-1 pitch over the wall to record the Hokies’ first-ever home run as a participant in the ACC Championship. The shot drove in catcher Steve Domecus, who had drawn a two-out walk, and it was the eighth home run of the season for the first-team All-ACC outfielder.
Seaborn joined the party in the second inning, ripping a solo line drive over the left-field wall to push the score to 3-0. It was the seventh home run of the year for the junior second baseman.
After Wright struck out six of the first nine batters he faced, Georgia Tech left fielder Jay Dantzler recorded the Yellow Jackets’ first hit in the third inning when he hit a solo homer to left-center to make it 3-1 Hokies.
The Hokies scored a run in the sixth without recording a hit as McGuire lost his control, hitting Wates with a pitch and walking three batters. Seaborn picked up his second RBI of the day when he drew the third walk issued by McGuire in the frame, which came with the bases loaded and Wates on third.
With his 26th double of the season in the top of the seventh, Domecus set a new Virginia Tech record for two-baggers in a season, surpassing Casey Waller’s mark of 25 set in 1989. After Wates was hit by another pitch, this time by Georgia Tech reliever Patrick Long , first baseman Ronnie Shaban stroked a single to right-center to score Domecus and give the Hokies a 5-1 cushion.
Virginia Tech added one more tally to its lead in the eighth when center fielder Sean Ryan slapped his 12th double of the season to left-center field to score Seaborn all the way from first base. Seaborn had reached two batters earlier on a one-out walk.
Georgia Tech inched closer in the bottom of the eighth when center fielder Jeff Rowland sent a solo home run to right field on the first pitch of the frame, but Wright came out to finish the ninth in scoreless fashion.
The Hokies will continue play in the tournament on Friday against second-seeded Clemson, which lost to NC State on Wednesday night in its first game. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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