DURHAM, N.C. – Chad Pinder’s sacrifice fly in the seventh frame broke a 2-2 tie and Clark Labitan pitched the final 1.1 innings scoreless to give No. 21 Virginia Tech a 3-2 victory over Georgia Tech in Game 8 of the 2013 ACC Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
More importantly, the Hokies completed Pool B play with an unblemished 3-0 record, which sends them into the 2013 ACC Championship Game on Sunday, the team’s first championship game appearance as a member of the league and the first championship game since they were in the Atlantic 10 back in 2000.
Tech improved to 38-19 overall with their eighth straight win, their 13th win in 14 games and their 16th in 18. It was also their eighth straight win at DBAP and sixth this season. Georgia Tech dropped to 34-25 with the loss.
It was another low-scoring affair on Friday afternoon, with both starting pitchers allowing just two runs over six frames.
The Yellow Jackets broke the scoreless tie in the third with an unearned run, but the Hokies responded with a single run of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Pinder hit an opposite field solo home run, his third of the tournament, to tie the game at 1-1.
Georgia Tech responded in the fifth by loading the bases with just one out. Daniel Palka hit a grounder to score Thomas Smith and a long fly both to left center was tracked down by Tyler Horan to avoid any further damage.
Back came Virginia Tech, with Alex Perez knocking in Brendon Hayden, who doubled, with an RBI single to tie it back up at 2-2. The Hokies then loaded the bases with a walk and HBP, but could not break the tie.
Devin Burke worked a scoreless sixth and a perfect seventh to keep the Yellow Jackets off the board, while Georgia Tech starter Jonathan King used a double play to end a Hokie threat in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kyle Wernicki led off with a single and moved to second on a sac bunt by Perez. Sean Keselica then put runners on the corners with a single to center, which prompted a call to the bullpen.
Pinder worked a 2-0 count then hit a fly ball to center, which was deep enough to score Wernicki with the go-ahead run.
Burke then got the first two outs of the eighth before allowing a double to Same Dove, which saw the Hokies go to their pen. Clark Labitan ended the frame with a pop up to first and then closed the game with a perfect ninth, getting the final out with a strikeout.
Burke picked up his 10th win of the season with the win and is now 10-3, while Labitan earned his 10th save of the season. King dropped to 6-5 with the loss.
The Hokies now play the waiting game to see who they will face in the championship game on Sunday. It will be either North Carolina or North Carolina State, who face each other in Saturday night’s final game of pool play. The championship game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
Additional Notes: Including last night’s game as well, Tech is now 10-6 in one-run games. The Hokies notched their 16th comeback of the year. In 26 innings played in the tournament, Tech has come to the plate just three times trailing. With his 10th win, Burke has now won more games by a Hokie pitcher since 1999, when Jason Bush won 11. With the save, Labitan has now saved 13 games in his career, tying for the fifth-most as a Tech pitcher. The Hokies are 14-5 this season in the state of North Carolina. Tech’s senior class has now won 142 career games, tying for the most since the 1990 class also won 142.
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