CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke (31-20) scored three runs in the first three innings and held on for a 4-2 victory over Virginia (29-23) in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship at Truist Park on Saturday (May 29). The Blue Devils advance to the title game for the first time and play the winner of Georgia Tech and NC State.
Duke built a 3-0 lead in the first three innings on three solo home runs, two off the bat of Joey Loperfido. The centerfielder led off the game with an opposite field homer and then led off the third with a solo blast over the left field wall. Ethan Murray went back-to-back with Loperfido in the third inning, for his second homer of the season.
Senior Alex Tappen (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) responded for UVA in the bottom half with a 417-foot solo blast that hit the scoreboard in left field. The homer was his second in as many games and third of the season. Tappen extended his hit streak to 10 games with the mammoth blast and was 2-for-3 in the contest.
Virginia pulled within a run in the fourth when Kyle Teel (Mahwah, N.J.) came around to score on a single by Logan Michaels (DeForest, Wis.). The Blue Devils made it a two-run game in the fifth, capitalizing on a two-out, Cavalier fielding error, one of two UVA defensive miscues on the day.
Blue Devil starting pitcher Luke Fox pitched seven innings and scattered eight hits while striking out seven batters. The lefthander earned his second win of the season. He was supported by two double plays behind him and faced the minimum over his final two innings of work.
Duke relievers Jimmy Loper and Marcus Johnson combined to pitch a perfect eighth and ninth innings to seal the victory for Duke. The save was credited to Johnson, his sixth of the year.
Sophomore Max Cotier (New Miford, Conn.) was 2-for-4 in the contest, his third multi-hit effort in the last five games.
Bradon Neeck (Chappaqua, N.Y.) got an out in the fifth and gave way to Kyle Whitten (Manassas, Va.) who pitched the next 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. Sophomore Nate Savino (Sterling, Va.) tossed the final two innings for UVA and struck out three. Including starting pitcher Mike Vasil (Wellesley, Mass.), the Cavalier pitching staff combined to strikeout 12 batters.
Virginia, expected to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament next weekend, will learn its fate on Monday (May 31). The selection show is scheduled for noon and will air live on ESPN2.