BLACKSBURG, Va. – For the first time during its conference history, the Virginia Tech baseball program is the ACC Coastal Division champion as the No. 3 Hokies toppled Duke, 7-2, on Saturday at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park to clinch the league’s best regular season record.
Laying claim to its third 40-win ACC season – its first since 2013 – Virginia Tech (40-11, 19-9 ACC) will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s ACC Baseball Championship, which will take place at Truist Field in Charlotte, North Carolina, from May 24 to May 29. The Hokies will compete in Pool A opposite the league’s No. 8 and No. 12 seeds with the pool champion advancing to the conference semifinals on Saturday, May 28.
In control of its own destiny on Saturday to finish with the best record in the ACC, Tech stunned Duke (22-32, 10-20 ACC) by hitting three home runs within its first four at-bats of the game. Nick Biddison, Tanner Schobel and Jack Hurley each hammered solo shots for the Hokies, rushing them out to the 3-0 lead against the Blue Devils’ starter, Billy Seidl.
Biddison’s leadoff blast marked Tech’s 100th team home run of the season, making the 2022 Hokies the program’s fifth squad since 1960 to eclipse triple digits in the category. Schobel’s homer went down as his team leading, 16th jack of the year while Hurley’s 13th home run of his sophomore campaign traveled 405 feet before finding a home beyond the right field wall.
Duke earned a run back during the top of the second inning against Tech right-hand starter Jordan Geber, who was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week on May 16. Chris Crabtree connected on the second of back-to-back doubles between he and Trevor Johnson, dropping his RBI knock into right field to cut the score to 3-1.
Eduardo Malinowski pushed the Hokies’ lead to 4-1 during the bottom of the third inning, joining Biddison as the second Tech senior to leave the yard on Senior Day. Malinowski’s 12th homer of the year briefly left the Hokies in front by three runs as Luke Storm answered during the top of the fourth inning with another solo homer – the fifth of the game – to halve Tech’s lead at 4-2.
With lightning striking around the Blacksburg area, Saturday’s regular season finale was interrupted during the top of the fifth inning by a one-hour, 37-minute delay that ended both pitchers’ days. Geber would have needed two more outs to qualify for the victory, finishing with six strikeouts while allowing three hits and two runs across four and one-third innings.
Graham Firoved relieved Geber after the weather delay, blanking the Blue Devils across the final four and two-thirds innings while racking up three strikeouts. Carson Jones provided the only late-game highlight during the bottom of the seventh inning, smashing a three-run home run to right field – his fifth of the week spanning four starts.
Top-seeded, No. 3 Virginia Tech will turn its attention to the 2022 ACC Baseball Championship in Charlotte. The Hokies are pitted in Pool A along with eighth-seeded North Carolina and 12th-seeded Clemson.