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Hassan Homers To Lead Duke To 10-2 Win Over N.C. Central
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 03/26/2008
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Alex Hassan drove in three runs and scored three times while also adding his second home run of the season against N.C. Central.
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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DURHAM, N.C.Alex Hassan and Gabriel Saade drove in three runs apiece, while four Duke pitchers combined to hold N.C. Central to two runs as the Blue Devils topped the Eagles 10-2 Wednesday evening at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the first-ever baseball game between the Durham-based institutions.

The historic game drew 1,017 spectators, which was a school-record for N.C. Central (6-17) and the fourth straight road contest in which Duke (21-5, 4-5 ACC) played in front of a four-figure crowd.

Saade collected three hits in his four at bats, while Hassan mashed his second home run of the season and scored three times. The Blue Devils struck early with back-to-back four run innings in the second and third, while starter Jonathan Foreman (1-0) gave up just one hit through five innings to pick up his first win of the season.

Foreman struck out five batters to pave the way for relievers John Bunder, Ryan Knott and Ron Causey, who tossed the final four innings, surrendering just one unearned run on four hits. Bunder had his most efficient outing to date, giving up just one hit through two scoreless innings while striking out a career-high three batters.

Freshman shortstop Jake Lemmerman and sophomore outfielder Jeremy Gould also drove in runs, while first baseman Grant Monroe scored three times in his third career start at first base. Tim Sherlock and Ryan McCurdy also contributed a pair of runs with one hit each.

Alex Weathersby (0-3) gave it his all for the Eagles, but took the short end of an inconsistent defensive performance by his team. The Eagles committed five errors in the game to allow six unearned runs to score, five of which were credited to Weathersby. Weathersby struck out four over 5.1 innings before James Jordan took over the final 3.2 frames, holding Duke to three hits and two runs, only one of which was earned.

Robert Grant came off the bench to contribute the lone RBI for N.C. Central, while Oliver Jenkins turned in the only multi-hit day for the Eagles.

It took Duke just two offensive series to build a substantial lead, as the Blue Devils connected on three singles and a sacrifice fly to put up four runs in the top of the second. Sherlock started the rally with a single through the right side and was joined on the base paths soon after by McCurdy and Monroe, who reached with a hit by pitch and another base hit, respectively. Hassan then sent in the first run by drawing a bases loaded walk after falling behind 0-2 in the count. N.C. Central followed by giving Duke a free out, as a ground ball from Lemmerman jumped out of David Scott’s glove at shortstop, allowing McCurdy to score while leaving the bases juiced. Gould then ripped a sacrifice fly ball to deep center field to drive in Monroe before Saade contributed the last RBI of the inning with a two-out single for his second base knock of the game.

The Eagles took back one of the runs without punching a single hit, thanks to a wild pitch on a strikeout that allowed Davis to reach base and eventually score. Foreman opened the inning by striking out cleanup hitter Tye Gray and followed by dishing out another strikeout to Kyle Davis. Davis whiffed on a curve ball, but the pitch hit the dirt and scooted past catcher Kyle Kreick, allowing him to safely reach first base. Another wild pitch allowed him to reach second before Jenkins moved him over to third with a groundout to the right side. Foreman almost got out of the inning with the shutout still intact, but a passed ball to the next batter allowed Davis to score to cut the deficit to 4-1.

A fielding error, two wild pitches and two Duke hits led to four more runs in the third as the Blue Devils went ahead 8-1. The Blue Devils also drew a pair of walks and were given an extra out in the inning, as a potential inning-ending double play was botched by the Eagles, leading to three unearned runs. The error, which came with runners on first and second, allowed Sherlock to score from second on the play while also allowing McCurdy to advance two bases to third after reaching with a single. An ensuing wild pitch sent McCurdy across the plate and Monroe to third before Saade drove in both runners with his third single in as many at bats.

N.C. Central put their leadoff batter on base in the bottom half of the third, but came away with nothing after Kreick gunned him down while trying to steal second base. Tim McAllister drew the leadoff walk before being thrown out by Kreick, who has now gunned down two runners in four chances this season.

Jenkins broke up Foreman’s shot at a no-hitter in the fourth with a one-out single through the left side. The base knock was harmless though, as Foreman retired the next two batters in order to end the inning with the seven-run lead still intact.

What was shaping up to be a slugfest quickly turned into a pitcher’s duel through the middle innings, as Weathersby held the Blue Devils to just one hit over his final two innings. He stayed on to get the first out in the top of the sixth before handing the ball to Jordan, who finished off the three-up, three-down inning.

Meanwhile, Foreman retired three of four in the fifth after allowing just one hit through his five innings on the mound. Bunder took over in the sixth for Duke and retired three straight after giving up a leadoff single. Two of the outs were consecutive strikeouts, giving the freshman seven Ks through his first 7.1 innings on the mound.

A two-run homer by Hassan in the top of the seventh broke the scoreless streak and put Duke ahead 10-1. Hassan’s bomb, his second of the season, drove in Monroe after the Eagles allowed him to reach base after dropping his flyout to left field. Lemmerman followed Hassan’s home run with his first single of the night, but got no further than second after Jordan settled down and retired the next two to end the inning.

Knott took over in the eighth and retired three of four batters, thanks to a heads-up play by Kreick. After allowing pinch hitter Jerel Campbell to reach with a leadoff walk, Knott gave up a single to center field to Greg Pickett. Hassan fielded the base hit and came up firing to the plate in time to hold Campell at third, but Pickett never stopped after rounding first and took off for second. Kreick caught the ball and after looking Campbell back to third, fired to Lemmerman just in time to gun down Pickett for the second out of the inning. Knott then stranded the runner at third by rolling a routine ground ball to Saade. 

With just three outs remaining to lock up the win, Causey stepped to the mound at the start of the ninth for the Blue Devils. Causey gave up a pair of hits to his first two batters, but retired the next three in order to end the game. The two hits resulted in an unearned run, however, after Jenkins’ infield single to open the inning turned into a double after Lemmerman’s throw to first sailed wide into Duke’s dugout. Grant then stepped in and punched the first pitch he saw through the right side to score Jenkins from second before Causey settled down and used seven pitches to pick up the final three outs, two of which were three-pitch strikeouts.

Duke will look to upset its fourth straight top-25 opponent this weekend as No. 6 Miami visits Durham for a three-game conference series at Jack Coombs Field. The series will open on Friday, March 28 at 7 p.m. with following contests at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.