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Duke Welcomes Virginia Tech for ACC Series – Duke University –

DURHAM – The Duke baseball team hosts its final home series of the regular season as Virginia Tech comes to Durham for a three-game ACC series this weekend at Jack Coombs Stadium in Durham, N.C.

  • Duke (21-20, 10-17 ACC) returns to Durham for ACC play for the first time in almost a month as it hosts Virginia Tech (27-17, 16-14 ACC) for a three-game ACC series.  
  • Senior Chris Crabtree recorded his 100th career hit at Virginia on April 25. Crabtree is one of eighth Blue Devils to boast triple-digit career hits.
  • The Blue Devils have hit 52 home runs this season, the second-most in a single season under head coach Chris Pollard. Over the past month, Duke has recorded 32 home runs.
  • Duke and Virginia Tech meet for 72nd time in the two programs histories, dating back to 1907. The Blue Devils lead the all-time series, 42-29, including a 21-15 mark in Durham. Duke has taken the previous six series.

Friday and Sunday’s games will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra. Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on RSN with Tom Werme (PxP) and Nick Green (Analyst) on the call. Chris Edwards also has the call for all three games on the Blue Devil Sports Network from Learfield IMG College and will be available on or the TuneIn app.

Friday, 6 p.m. – TuneIn – Live StatsWatch
Saturday, 1 p.m. – TuneIn – Live Stats
Sunday, 1 p.m. – TuneIn – Live StatsWatch
Duke and Virginia Tech meet for the 72nd time in the two programs’ histories, dating back to 1907. Duke leads the all-time series 42-29, including a 21-15 mark in Durham. In the two team’s last series, Duke and Virginia Tech split a doubleheader on Saturday setting up a winner-take-all rubber game on Sunday. The Blue Devils rallied late to take the series. Head coach Chris Pollard has led the Blue Devils to win the previous six series between the two clubs and holds a 13-8 career record against the Hokies with all meetings while he has been at Duke.
The Hokies hold a 27-17 overall record and enter the game riding a four-game winning streak. Virginia Tech started the season strong, boasting conference series wins over Miami and North Carolina early in the year. The Hokies are just two spots ahead of the Blue Devils in the NCAA RPI rankings, checking in at No. 46. Gavin Cross has emerged as the leader at the plate, leading the team in batting average (.380), runs (46), hits (65), doubles (12), triples (5) and home runs (10), also ranking in the top-10 in the conference in each category. Peyton Alford leads on the mound, striking out the seventh-most batters in the ACC this season and boasts 12.76 strikeouts per game.
Senior Joey Loperfido was named ACC Player of the Week on May 10 after a stellar week in the batter’s box. Loperfido batted 10-for-15 through four games as the Blue Devils went 2-2. The Haddonfield, N.J., native went 2-for-4 against William & Mary in a midweek contest before leading the Blue Devils at No. 15 Louisville, going 8-for-11 (.727) with four runs, two doubles and a home run.
Duke hit eight home runs in the three-game series at Virginia, the most in a single three-game series under head coach Chris Pollard. In addition, senior Michael Rothenberg hit longballs in back-to-back at bats during Friday’s game to become the first Blue Devil to do so in a single game since Kennie Taylor accomplished the task at Georgia Tech on May 17, 2018. Just two games after Rothenberg accomplished the feat, teammate graduate student Peter Matt also hit home runs in back-to-back at bats on Sunday at Virginia.
Sophomore Marcus Johnson and freshman Luke Fox were stellar on the bump for the Blue Devils in the month of April. Johnson (1.15) and Fox (1.20) ranked first and second in the ACC in ERA for the month, both holding opposing batters to a sub-.200 batting average. The duo combined to allow just four earned runs on 16 hits and five walks while striking out 41 batters in 30.2 innings of work in the month of April.
The Blue Devils are currently among the conference leaders in doubles per game, hitting 2.08 doubles per game this season to rank second in the ACC. Senior Joey Loperfido ranks seventh in the league with 13 doubles. Senior Michael Rothenberg and junior Ethan Murray add 12 and 11, respectively. 
The Blue Devil pitching staff has ascended to new heights over the past three seasons, shattering the school’s single-season strikeout record in 2018 and 2019. This season, Duke is continuing to strike out batters at record rates, fanning 397 batters in just 360.2 innings pitched.
Duke season strikeout totals (Team records)
Rank      K/9        Strikeouts         Season   
1.           9.72            598                 2019
2.           9.12            575                 2018
              11.51         183                 2020*
              9.91            397                 2021
*Season cut short due to COVID-19 pandemic
Sophomore Marcus Johnson has emerged as Duke’s go-to closer during the 2021 season. The Fontana, Calif., native has shown excellent control and pounded the strike zone, totaling 43 strikeouts to just eight walks in 39.2 innings pitched for a team-leading strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.38. From April 13 to May 4, Johnson picked up two wins while allowing just four hits and two walks and fanning 17 batters in 11 scoreless innings pitched. In addition, he held batters to a .111 batting average.
Junior Ethan Murray tripled twice in the fourth inning against Campbell on April 13. Murray’s pair of triples in a single inning was just the ninth time that has happened in Division I NCAA history, and the first time since 2008. In addition, Duke’s three triples against Campbell were the most in a single game since 2017.
The Duke offense has erupted over the past month, hitting 32 home runs over the past 14 games. Graduate student Peter Matt and junior RJ Schreck have led the way, blasting a combined 15 home runs in the span. The Blue Devils have hit a home run in 11 consecutive games. Duke’s 52 home runs on the season rank seventh all-time in a single season in Duke history and are the second most in a single season under head coach Chris Pollard.
Duke baseball announced the renewal of the K’s 4 Kids’ Cancer campaign, which is now in its third season with the team. Fans can help Duke baseball strikeout children’s cancer by making a pledge for every strikeout that Blue Devil pitchers rack up this season. In just two years, the campaign has raised over $25,000 and all funds go directly to support cancer research and patient care at Duke Children’s Hospital.

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