Tech drops series opener at Duke
Junior right-hander Marcus Stroman had eight strikeouts in a season-high eight innings and freshman Andrew Istler closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth as Duke defeated Virginia Tech 5-3 on Friday night at English Field.
Stroman (3-2) held the Hokies to three runs on 10 hits while issuing just one walk. Istler then came on in the ninth and retired Virginia Tech in order to pick up his third career save.
After giving up his third run of the game in the fifth inning, Stroman retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. Six of those 11 outs came via a strikeout.
Duke (9-14, 2-5 ACC) grabbed a 3-0 lead in the opening frame. Second baseman Andy Perez had a one-out single to left to get the inning going. Third baseman Jordan Betts and center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms then drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Two batters later, catcher Mike Rosenfeld delivered a two-out, three-run double down the right field line to put the Blue Devils up by three.
Virginia Tech left fielder Tyler Horan had a two-out solo home run in the third to cut the Duke lead to 3-1.
The Hokies (17-7, 2-5 ACC) added a run on an RBI-groundout by second baseman Alex Perez in the fourth to make it a 3-2 ballgame.
Horan added another solo shot in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3. It was the sixth homer of the season for Horan.
Right fielder Grant McCabe led off the top of the sixth with an infield single before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by first baseman Aaron Cohn. Two batters later, Istler dropped an RBI-single into right field and McCabe just beat the throw to the plate, sliding in safely under the tag from catcher Chad Morgan to give the Blue Devils a 4-3 lead.
Right fielder Jake Atwell tripled into the right field corner to lead off the bottom of the sixth for the Hokies. Stroman then struck out the next three batters swinging to get out of the jam with the one-run lead.
Cohn singled to right and shortstop Angelo LaBruna drew a walk with two outs in the top of the eighth. Cohn and LaBruna would then both move up a base on a wild pitch. Istler then sent a groundball to third and LaBruna timed his run perfectly, crossing in front of Chad Pinder just as the ball reached the third baseman, causing an error that allowed Cohn to score from third.
Perez led the Blue Devils at the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with a run scored. Istler had two hits and an RBI, Cohn had two hits and scored once and Rosenfeld finished with a three-run double. Designated hitter Jeff Kremer and McCabe both added a hit for Duke, while McCabe, Betts and Piwnica-Worms scored one run apiece.
Virginia Tech starter Joe Mantiply (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings of work.
Game two of the series is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday’s series finale will be at 1 p.m.