CHARLOTTE (theACC.com) – Duke’s torrid late-season run continues, and it has landed the Blue Devils in the ACC Baseball Championship title game for the first time.

Joey Loperfido homered twice and drove in three runs, and starting pitcher Luke Fox delivered seven strong innings as the ninth-seeded Blue Devils topped eight-seeded Virginia 4-2 in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal action at Truist Park.

Duke (31-10) will carry an 11-game winning streak into Sunday’s noon championship game versus the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal between No. 2 seed Georgia Tech (29-22) and No.3 seed NC State (29-16).

While the Blue Devils will be making their first appearance in the ACC Baseball Championship finals since the conference began deciding its champion via tournament play in 1973, Duke has won the league title three times via regular-season play -- back-to-back in 1956 and 1957, then again in 1961. Head coach Chris Pollard and his squad will seek to end the drought.

Virginia (29-23) missed out on a bid to reach the ACC finals for the first time since winning the Championship in 2011. But as another team that has finished strong down the stretch after a difficult start, the Cavaliers are hopeful of hearing their names called when the NCAA tournament bracket is unveiled Monday at noon.

Loperfido led off the game with his sixth home run of the year off Virginia starter Mike Vasil (7-4), and then joined No. 2 hitter Ethan Murray in going deep back-to-back leading off the third to put the Blue Devils up 3-0.

Alex Tappen led off the bottom of the third with his second homer in as many days to put Virginia on the board, and Logan Michaels’ two-out RBI single in the fourth inning brought the Cavaliers within 3-2.

But Duke got one run back in the top of the fifth when Michael Rothenberg doubled with one out and eventually scored from third on a two-out error by Virginia shortstop Nic Kent.

The 4-2 lead proved enough for Fox and the Duke bullpen.

Fox (2-2) departed after seven innings having allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out seven batters and walking none. Jimmy Loper came on to work a perfect eighth for the Blue Devils, and Marcus Johnson followed suit in the ninth for his sixth save of the season. Loper and Johnson each retired the side on a mere nine pitches each.

Loperfido finished 4-for-5 on the day and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. Tappen and Max Cotier each had two hits for Virginia.

OF NOTE
- Duke did not face NC State during the regular season after the team’s scheduled three-game series March 12-14 in Durham was canceled due to COVID protocols … The Blue Devils dropped two of three to Georgia Tech at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in late April.

- Sunday’s noon ACC Championship title game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

Photo Courtesy: Chris Pollard, Duke Sports