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DURHAM, N.C. – For the first time as a member of the ACC, Virginia Tech has a winning conference record after two weekends, as the Hokies posted a 6-2 victory on Sunday afternoon over Duke, which completing a three-game sweep of the Blue Devils at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the final contest of the ACC series.
Tech (16-5, 4-2 ACC) is also off to its best overall start as a member of the conference (since 2005) and with the win on Sunday, gave Pete Hughes his 500th career win as a baseball head coach.
In his first start since the season opener versus Kent State, Joe Mantiply allowed a lead-off triple to Duke’s Andy Perez and an RBI single to Jeff Kremer before recording an out. The rest of the way, he scattered four more hits over five full innings, allowed two total runs and struck out three.
He improved to 1-0 on the season and evened his overall mark to 15-15. He is just four wins shy of the most by a pitcher at Tech since the team joined the ACC. Clark Labitan threw the final four innings, tying a career-high, and did not allow a run on three hits and struck out four to pick up his fourth save of the season.
Trailing 1-0 after one frame, the Hokies responded with two runs in the second on a two-out bases-loaded two RBI single by Kyle Wernicki that scored Tyler Horan, who doubled, and Mark Zagunis, who drew one of three walks in the inning.
Then tied at 2-2, Tech would put single runs on the board in the sixth and seventh to take a two-run lead. Brendon Hayden singled home Zagunis for the third run and Horan made it 4-2 with a solo home run, his third long ball of the year.
The Hokies added two more insurance runs in the eighth, the first on a solo home run by Andrew Rash, his second of the year and 33rd of his career – and the most by a Hokie since Tech has been in the ACC. Alex Perez then plated Hayden, who doubled, with a two-out single to make it 6-2.
Duke (10-10, 2-4 ACC) saw its Perez notch a team-high three hits. The Blue Devils’ starter Robert Huber suffered the loss and is now 2-2.
Tech returns to the field on Tuesday to face Liberty at 5:30 p.m. at English Field – its only home game in a two-week span – before heading back on the road for an ACC series at Miami next weekend.
Additional Notes: Tech betters its best start after 21 games overall since joining the ACC (2005) by a game as last year’s squad was 15-6. The Hokies have won four ACC games in a row for just the third time in their history (2010 – five and 2009 – six). Tech sweeps just its third ACC road series and first not at Maryland (2009 and 2011). In 2007, the Hokies were 3-3 after their first six ACC games. The Hokies have now won five straight at DBAP and are 11-2 in the state of North Carolina this year. Tech is 11-1 when the team hits a home run. Chad Pinder and Mark Zagunis have reached base in all 21 games this season, while Pinder has a 12-game hitting streak.
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).