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Blue Devils win 1st in league play

Searching for their first ACC win of the season, the Blue Devils continued their struggles at the plate against Georgia Tech. But thanks to the strong pitching of Tony Bajoczky, they managed to take one of three from the Yellow Jackets.

Duke (18-9, 1-8 in the ACC) gave up two runs in the top of the ninth on Friday, surrendering a 2-1 lead and sending the Blue Devils to their seventh straight conference loss, 3-2. On Saturday, Bajoczky and Michael Seander combined on a six-hit shutout of Georgia Tech (14-11, 5-4), giving Duke a 3-0 victory.

"I was able to get ahead of hitters, which helped a lot," Bajoczky said. "We've kind of been struggling at the plate, and we just had to do the best we could pitching to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win."

Bajoczky gave up five hits over seven innings, striking out five.

"Tony gave us a great performance," head coach Sean McNally said. "It's a good feeling to get the first win under our belt. We felt like it was overdue-we'd been playing well in conference play, just not quite well enough."

Hitting has been a large reason for the Blue Devils' conference struggles. Duke came into the series with a .218 batting average in conference play-last in the ACC.

Their struggles continued this weekend, as Duke hit .227 during the series.

The Blue Devils squandered several scoring opportunities Sunday in their 5-1 loss. In the third, Ryan McCurdy did not make contact on a hit-and-run, and Kyle Butler was thrown out at second-squelching the Blue Devils' building momentum. In the fifth, they failed to capitalize on a Georgia Tech error that put runners on the corners, as Jimmy Gallagher struck out looking to end the inning.

"We need to situational hit a little bit better," pitcher Andrew Wolcott said. "It's just something we definitely need to work on-coming through in those situations."

Wolcott came into Sunday's game in the second inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. He allowed just one of the runners to score-on a sacrifice fly-and gave up two runs over five innings, keeping the Blue Devils in the game.

But, as has been the case recently, Duke's offense failed to support Wolcott. The Blue Devils scattered seven hits and scored only one run in the loss.

"When we score one run, it's going to be really tough to beat a team in the ACC-we can't throw a shutout every game," Nate Freiman said. "We've been leaving a lot of runners on base, and those could be runs if we drive them in. We get baserunners-but if they stay out there, they don't really help us that much."

With a series against No. 2 Florida State looming next weekend, Duke will need to turn it around at the plate-and continue its strong pitching-if it hopes to make up some ground in the ACC standings.

"As an offensive group, we've got to perform better," McNally said. "I tell our guys all the time-it comes and goes. Right now, we need to get the bats going a little bit, and I'm confident that we will."

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