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Duke, NC State Punch Tickets to ACC Championship Game

by Matt Sefcovic (@MattSefcovic)

Heading into the semis, all four teams remaining in the ACC Tournament had secured a berth in the NCAA Tournament, but each team could improve their seeding by adding two more quality wins to their resume. Just as everyone expected, Duke, the eight seed, and Virginia, the nine seed, would meet in the first semifinal game on Saturday.

After finding themselves squarely on the bubble, the Blue Devils strung together ten wins in a row beating both Florida State and Miami to advance to the semifinals.

The Cavaliers also found their stride at the right time, winning 10 of their last 13 games taking out Virginia Tech and top seeded Notre Dame in pool play.

In the first game on Saturday, Luke Fox (W, 2-2) paced the Blue Devils with the longest outing of his career on the way to a 4-2 victory over Virginia. Fox tossed seven strong innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and seven strikeouts. The Cavaliers offense was not able to gain any momentum as they just managed eight baserunners for the game.

Joey Loperfido led Duke at the plate with four hits, two of which were solo home runs in the first and third innings. Just after the Loperfido home run in the third inning, Ethan Murray followed it up with a home run of his own to give Duke a 3-0 lead.

Virginia battled back with a solo shot off the bat of Alex Tappen in the bottom of the third and managed to add one more run in the fourth, but the Blue Devils pitching staff kept the Cavaliers off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game, earning a spot in their first ever ACC Championship game.

In the nightcap, the two seed, Georgia Tech, took on a red hot, three seeded North Carolina State team that has put together a remarkable second half of the season. The Yellow Jackets earned a spot in the semifinals by beating Louisville in a 12-inning thriller on Thursday night.

The Wolfpack, winners of 13 of 16, dominated Georgia Tech on their way to a 8-1 victory and earned a spot in the ACC Championship game against Duke on Sunday.

After scoring 14 runs in the first two ACC Tournament games, Georgia Tech only managed one run on four hits and recorded two errors.

Sam Highfill (W, 6-2) allowed just four hits in 6.1 innings of work before Evan Justice (S, 9) kept the Yellow Jackets off the base paths for the remaining 2.2 innings.

Tyler McDonough and Luca Tresh both homered for the Wolfpack, who scored eight runs despite only recording six hits for the game.

Duke and North Carolina State will battle it out for the ACC Championship on Sunday at noon ET on ESPN 2. This will be the first contest between Blue Devils and Wolfpack this season as the regular season series was cancelled.


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