DURHAM, N.C. – With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th, sophomore shortstop Kenny Koplove drew his eighth walk of the season to send the Duke baseball team to a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame Friday evening at Jack Coombs Field.
Irish reliever Cristian Torres (2-2) struggled with his command in the final frame, issuing free passes to senior Mike Rosenfeld and redshirt junior Chris Marconcini before intentionally walking senior Matt Berezo. Koplove then worked the count full before Torres’ final pitch missed inside, plating the game-winning run.
“I credit our guys for staying patient,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “A couple of those pitches could’ve gone either way. They went our way today. I kept telling our guys, if you stay in enough close ball games, that evens itself out.”
Senior Jordan Betts amassed three hits for the third time this season to pace the Blue Devil offense. Betts doubled in both the seventh and the ninth to bring his career total to 57 doubles, a mark which ranks third in the school record books.
Senior Drew Van Orden struck out a season-high seven batters over 6.1 innings of work in his second quality start on the year. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native scattered five hits while allowing three runs in the no decision. Duke (10-8, 2-2 ACC) received solid performances out of the bullpen as sophomore Nick Hendrix and senior Robert Huber did not allow a hit over the final 3.2 innings. Huber (1-0) tossed the final two scoreless frames to earn the victory.
“[It was] just a very competitive game on both sides,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I tip my hat to Notre Dame. They played unbelievable defense in that game. They’ve got a really good club. I thought it was a tremendous job by our pitching staff. And we really hit a lot of baseballs hard right at people today. We hit the ball hard, on the button all day long.”
The two teams combined for four runs in the third as both squads plated a pair in the frame. Notre Dame (6-10, 0-4 ACC) catcher Forrest Johnson began the inning with a leadoff double, followed by a Ryan Bull walk. Kyle Fiala drove in a run with a grounder to the right side before a Cavan Biggio RBI single put the Irish on top, 2-0.
Duke wasted little time responding, scoring two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. Cohn laced a double to kick things off and Lumpa followed with a base hit to put runners at the corners. Marconcini drove in his ACC-leading 21st RBI of the season on a ground ball and Betts added a two-out RBI base hit to knot the score at two-all.
“That was one of the most important moments in the ballgame” Pollard said. “[Notre Dame] scored two. They had momentum. It looked like they might have the chance to get off the field with only one run scoring, and Betts’ hit was big. It knotted it up and allowed us to get some momentum back.”
Notre Dame put together a two-out rally in the fifth to stake the 3-2 advantage. After Fiala drew the walk, Biggio roped a triple to right for his second RBI and base hit of the game.
Betts began the bottom of the seventh with a double and found his way to third after Berezo beat out an infield single. That set the tables for Koplove, who lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to plate the game-tying run.
With inclement weather predicted for Sunday, the two teams will now meet in a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1:05 p.m.