Virginia Tech is known for their offensive firepower, but Duke showed plenty of power during Thursday's series opener where the two teams combined for 11 home runs. However, in a battle of offensive firepower, arguably the most powerful offense in the nation came out on top.
#3 Virginia Tech beat Duke 15-11 with the Hokies knowing that they need to win and Miami to do one game worse in their series this weekend to win the ACC Coastal crown. For reference, the 26 total runs in this game were more than the total points scored in 7 of the 29 football matchups between Virginia Tech and Duke (1937, 1938, 1948, 1981, 2008, 2011, 2013).
It was never to be a day for pitching with the runs going on the board as Duke put up one in the first inning before the Hokies had a two-out rally that started with a Tanner Schobel double. From there, Jack Hurley brought Schobel home with an RBI single before Cade Hunter hit a two-run home run to give the Hokies a 3-1 lead.
The roller coaster was just getting started as Duke put up two in the second via Alex Stone's first home run of the day, with the Hokies respond via a Nick Biddison RBI on a ground to give themselves a 4-3 lead.
The third inning would prove to be only 1 of 2 innings where both teams didn't score and only 2 of 5 total half innings where neither team put any runs on the board.
Griffin Green's rough day came to a head in the fourth with Green not even getting an out before being pulled as Duke took off with 4 runs thanks to another two-run home run from Alex Stone with Chad Knight adding a run off a fielder's choice and Luke Storm having a RBI single with both of those plays coming in at-bats against Henry Weycker.
Tech did respond with a solo home run from Carson Jones to cut the Duke lead to 7-5 heading to the fifth inning. This was the second of 3 home runs in the past two games for Jones (more on the 3rd shortly) who hadn't played since the Georgia Tech series, but has had a hot bat this week and may stay the DH moving forward over Conor Hartigan given Jones' recent surge.
Duke pushed their lead back to 4 at 9-5 in the top of the 5th thanks to a Chris Crabtree (who finished a double away from the cycle) solo home run plus a Graham Pauley RBI double.
However, the bottom of the 5th inning is where the game flipped back for good to the Hokies starting with a Cade Hunter RBI single before Eduardo Malinowski hit a three-run home run to tie the game 9 and give the Hokies new life.
Tech built on that momentum immediately with Jones hitting a solo home run, his second of the day, to give the Hokies a 10-9 lead. Nick Biddison followed that up a couple batters later with a two-out solo home run to boost Tech's lead to 11-9.
The sixth inning saw an exchange of solo home runs between Tanner Schobel and Duke's Luke Storm to make it 12-10 in favor of the Hokies. The 7th would be where Tech widened things to a more comfortable margin with a Nick Biddison RBI double getting the scoring going to be followed by a Gavin Cross RBI sac fly and a Schobel RBI ground out.
Drew Obee would hit a pinch hit home run in the ninth to cut Tech's lead to 15-11, but Jonah Hurney was the best pitcher of the day for Tech with two quality innings only allowing one run.
There were plenty of standouts as Nick Biddison and and Eduoardo Malinowski each had RBIs while Carson Jones (via his two home runs), Tanner Schobel, and Cade Hunter all drove in a pair of runs. Henry Weycker was credited with the win in the end as him, Graham Firoved, and Jonah Hurney progressively slowed down Duke's offense.
Overall though, it was the 3 big innings that made the difference for Tech especially the 6-run bottom of the fifth that flipped this game back in the Hokies' favor for good.
With the win, Tech did what they had to do, but still need to win the next two and Miami to slip up to win the ACC Coastal. However, given how the bats are firing on all cylinders plus the strong pitching from Drue Hackenberg overall and Jordan Geber recently; Tech is more than capable of comfortably doing what they need to do to not only win the Coastal, but also be the overall kings of the ACC.