HARRISONBURG, Va. – It took a little longer than hoped, but Virginia Tech baseball finally registered the program’s 2,000th career win with its 6-4 victory at James Madison Tuesday night in non-conference action at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
Alex Perez came through with a key two-out two-RBI double in the top of the eighth inning to break a 4-4 tie and Clark Labitan and Jake Joyce finished off the game on the mound to help the Hokies win their 11th straight non-conference game. They improved to 18-9 overall while the Dukes fell to 6-18-1.
Slow starts plagued Tech over the weekend when the team lost three straight in the ACC series against Duke. Just two batters into this game, thought, the Hokies put their first run on the scoreboard when Mark Zagunis tripled to left center on the second pitch of the contest then came home on a groundout by Gabe Ortiz.
Devin Burke started the game on the mound for Tech and threw three scoreless frames despite allowing two hits, two walks and one hit batter. JMU stranded five men on base during Burke’s time on the mound.
The first reliever out of the pen for Tech was Sean Keselica, marking his first appearance on the mound this season for the Hokies. He got the first two Dukes out with groundballs, but James Madison then loaded the bases with a single, walk and hit by pitch and Tech went back to its pen. Tanner McIntyre ended that threat with a called third strike.
The Hokies added three runs in the fifth frame to take a 4-0 lead. Tyler Horan led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch, his ninth of the season, and Perez drew a one-out walk, his team-leading 14th of the year. With two outs, Ortiz knocked in his second run of the game with a single, Chad Pinder loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch, and Johnny Morales plated two more with a single.
James Madison answered in the bottom of the fifth with three of its own, scoring one on a wild pitch and two more on a two-run home run off the bat of Bradley Shaban. The Dukes tied the game at 4-4 an inning later on an RBI infield single by Cole McInturff.
Eddie Campbell (3-0) tossed a scoreless seventh frame for Tech before the Hokies took the lead on Perez’ hit in the top of the eight. Labitan allowed just one hit in the eighth and Joyce picked up his second save of the year to close out the game.
Tech will stay on the road for three more games, travelling to Tallahassee, Fla. for its next ACC series at No. 4 Florida State starting on Friday at 6 p.m. All three games will be available on ESPN3.
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