BLACKSBURG, Va. – Sophomore Michael Matuella shut out Virginia Tech for 8.2 innings to lead the Duke baseball team to a 2-0 victory over the Hokies Sunday afternoon at English Field. The win gives Duke its third ACC sweep of the season and first on the road.
Matuella (1-1) scattered four hits and struck out seven in the longest outing of his young career. Senior Robert Huber came on for the final out, getting the Hokies’ Kyle Wernikci to pop out to short for his seventh save on the year.
“Just an unbelievable outing,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “[Matuella] did a really good job of pitching off of his fastball. [He] had heavy sink. There was a point in the game where [Virginia Tech] expected fastball and tried to be aggressive to it, and it was still a hard pitch for them to handle. That’s just a sign how good that pitch is for him.”
Senior David Perkins and redshirt junior Aaron Cohn provided the offense for the Blue Devils with Perkins notching a sacrifice fly in the second and Cohn laying down a sacrifice bunt on a squeeze play in the sixth.
Duke (24-17, 12-9 ACC) totaled seven hits with sophomore Kenny Koplove registering a pair of singles for his sixth multiple hit game of the season. Junior Andy Perez reached base in two of his four plate appearances, singling and scoring in the sixth after drawing a walk in the first. Redshirt junior Chris Marconcini walked twice and tripled in the eighth, while redshirt senior Ryan Deitrich also added a triple.
Duke nearly doubled its advantage in the ninth as senior Mark Lumpa drilled a pitched to the gap with runners at the corners. However, Hokie right fielder Wernicki was able to make the spectacular diving grab to keep the margin at 2-0.
“We did a good job of our situational hitting in the second,” Pollard said. “Perkins does what he needs to do right there to score the run. Great job by Cohn executing the safety squeeze. I thought we had other opportunities and hit the ball hard. Wernicki made an unbelievable play on that ball Lumpa hit to right. We could’ve pushed a couple more across. But credit [Virginia Tech], they made some good defensive plays. I thought both teams pitched great and played tremendous defense. We were opportunistic in a couple chances.”
Virginia Tech (18-20-1, 7-14 ACC) threatened early after leadoff hitter Saige Jenco bounced Matuella’s first pitch of the game over the mound for a base hit. Jenco stole second and advanced to third on a Sean Keselica groundball. Mark Zagunis sent a high chopper to third which Jordan Betts snared and then threw out Jenco at the plate to keep the game scoreless.
Marconcini drew the four-pitch walk to start off the second and Cohn lined a double to right for Duke’s first hit of the game. Perkins then stepped to the plate and gave the Blue Devils the early 1-0 advantage with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, his sixth RBI of the season.
Duke padded its lead on a squeeze play in the sixth as Cohn laid down the bunt for his 17th RBI of the season. Cohn’s bunt down the first base line scored Perez, who led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a Betts’ grounder before taking third on a wild pitch.
With the 2-0 lead in hand, Matuella retired eight of the final 11 batters he faced to keep the shutout intact in the ninth before giving way to Huber.
Duke hosts UNC Greensboro Tuesday, April 22 at Jack Coombs Field before traveling to Wake Forest April 25-27.