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Duke Clinches ACC Tournament Berth

Ian Soileau/Chronicle File Photo

When the ACC tournament comes to Durham May 20, the Blue Devils, for the first time since 2005, won't be missing out on the action.

Junior Alex Hassan went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and senior Andrew Wolcott pitched a complete game to send the Blue Devils to a 6-4 win over No. 8 Georgia Tech, which clinched the first postseason berth of head coach Sean McNally's tenure. After losing the series opener Friday, Duke (33-22, 14-15 in the ACC) has a chance to win its last series of the year over the Yellow Jackets (34-14, 17-10-1).

It was fitting that Wolcott, who picked up his seventh win of the season, was the one who ensured Duke's place in the tournament. Wolcott, Nate Freiman and Matt Williams, three of Duke's most consistent seniors, have been through plenty of ups and downs with McNally, also in his fourth year. They went 15-40 in their freshman season, and after missing the ACC tournament by a half-game last year, they will be part of the eight-team field in Durham Bulls Athletic Park next week.

Duke took an early 4-1 lead when Hassan hit his three-run blast, but Georgia Tech evened the score in the fourth with three runs on five hits. The Blue Devils pushed across a run in the bottom of the fourth when junior Jeremy Gould hit a single with the bases loaded, and senior Tim Sherlock added another run in the next frame with a solo shot. Hassan and Williams both finished with three hits, while Freiman hit two home runs Friday. He needs just one more to break Duke's career record.

Wolcott didn't need a reliever to finish the effort, as he scattered 11 hits on four earned runs, which slightly raised his ERA to 2.79.

Duke, which became the last team to clinch a berth, has a chance to move up in the ACC standings tomorrow in the rubber game. Boston College, which plays No. 4 North Carolina Saturday, sits at 13-14 in the league, while Duke is now 14-15. If the Blue Devils win Sunday, they will not only have a .500 record in the ACC for the first time since 1994, but they would likely be the No. 7 seed instead of the No. 8 seed. Duke beat Boston College 2-1 in their series earlier this season.


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