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Ness & Manno Shut Out Temple in 3-0 Win
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 03/05/2010
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Senior right-hander Michael Ness struck out a career-high seven batters in six shutout innings against Temple.
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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DURHAM, N.C. - Seniors Michael Ness and Christopher Manno combined for a six-hit shutout to lead Duke to a 3-0 win over Temple in the series opener Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Ness (1-0) started and went six innings to earn his first win of the season, while Manno took over for the final three to earn his first career save. The duo combined to strike out 12 batters while walking just one as Duke (5-3) won its fourth straight game and improved to 4-0 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Ness racked up a career-high seven strikeouts in his second straight Friday start before Manno entered the game with a 3-0 lead and fanned five of the 10 batters he faced, including striking out the side in the ninth inning. Ness scattered five hits in the win while Manno gave up just one base knock. Ness stayed ahead in the count for the majority of his outing, firing 22 first-pitch strikes to the 25 batters he faced.

Duke freshman Eric Brady and seniors Gabriel Saade and Will Currier drove in one run apiece with Currier going 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Saade had one of three doubles for Duke, joining sophomore Will Piwnica-Worms and junior Dennis O'Grady.

Duke struck out just one time and did not commit a single error in the game. Ness and Manno combined to throw 89 of their their 127 pitches for strikes. 

Temple starter Matt Mongiardini (0-3) was the hard-luck loser, giving up three runs in seven complete innings. Mongiardini threw just 83 pitches in the outing and scattered six hits, though three were doubles.

Ness cruised through the first two innings, using just eight pitches to get through the first frame before striking out three batters in the second. The Owls knocked out two weak singles to start the second inning, but then saw Ness strike out their next three hitters to escape the jam.

After Ness got through the third inning unharmed, his offense gave him a 1-0 lead to protect in the bottom half of the inning. O'Grady got the rally started by legging out a double on a line drive that hopped out of the glove of Temple third baseman Steve Nikorak. It was all Nikorak could do to swat the ball out of the air, but he sent it into shallow left field in the process to give O'Grady time to slide safely into second base. From there, McCurdy moved him to third with a groundout to second before Brady drove him in with a weak grounder to the left side. O'Grady hesitated on the ground ball, but took off for the plate the moment the ball was thrown to first base and used a head first tap slide to get across the plate.

Ness got through the fourth and fifth inning without surrendering a run as well, but not without some help from his defense. In the fifth inning, the Owls put their first two men on base and had runners on first and second with no outs. Ness bounced back to strike out the next hitter, but was forced to let the two Owls advance into scoring position when two-hitter Tony Jusino grounded out in front of the mound. With the tying run on third and the go-ahead run at second base, Nikorak then slapped a ground ball up the middle that was on its way to becoming a two-out, two-run single. But freshman Marcus Stroman got a jump on the ball and backhanded it behind second base before spinning and firing to first base all in one motion to record the third out of the inning.

The pitcher's duel continued into the sixth inning with Duke maintaining a slim 1-0 lead. While Ness blanked the Owls through the first six frames, the Blue Devils had nearly as much trouble against Mongiardini. Mongiardini scattered four hits through his first five innings without surrendering a single walk.

That all changed in the bottom of the sixth, however, when doubles from Piwnica-Worms and Saade led to two Duke runs and a 3-0 lead. Piwnica-Worms started the rally with a two-bagger off the left field wall and scored from second when Saade followed two at bats later with another double that was just feet from clearing the top of the 32-foot wall in left field. Following Saade's double, Currier drove in the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to shallow left-center field scored Lemmerman from third.

After shutting out the Owls for six innings, Ness handed the ball to his classmate Manno in the top of the seventh. Manno picked up right where Ness left off, putting up two more zeroes in the seventh and eighth while giving up just one hit.

Manno stayed on the mound for the final inning and struck out the side to notch his first career save. The combined shutout against Temple (0-8) is Duke's first since April 15, 2008, when Manno was part of a combined no-hitter against N.C. Central.

The series between Duke and Temple continues this Saturday, March 6, at 3 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Blue Devils will start sophomore southpaw Eric Pfisterer (1-1, 8.68 ERA), while the Owls will counter with junior right-hander Ben White (0-1, 9.00 ERA).