DURHAM, N.C. Two dominant pitching performances from starters Christopher Manno and Andrew Wolcott helped the Duke baseball team sweep a double header against Dartmouth 8-5 and 6-1 Friday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Manno (1-1), a left-handed junior, started game one and held the Big Green (0-2) to two runs over seven complete innings to earn his first win of the season, and senior right-hander Andrew Wolcott (2-0) followed with a seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance to pick up the win in game two. Manno held Dartmouth scoreless for the first six innings and gave up just three hits and a walk, while Wolcott allowed just one unearned run, matching a career high for innings pitched and just missing another career high with eight strikeouts. Wolcott gave up just two hits and a walk his first free pass issued this season and fired 76 pitches, 54 of which were strikes. After surrendering two singles in the first inning, Wolcott did not give another base hit for his final six frames.
In his first two starts, Wolcott owns a 1.29 ERA, 14 strikeouts and just one walk through 14.0 complete innings. He has given up just six hits to hold opposing hitters to a .122 average. He has thrown just 150 pitches on the season and is averaging 10.7 pitches per inning.
Two-way outfielder and closer Alex Hassan also collected his second save of the season with two hitless innings in relief of Wolcott in game two. The 6-4, 200 pound right-hander sat down all six batters he faced and struck out two, giving him five strikeouts through his first three innings pitched. Hassan needed just 21 pitches to close out the game, firing 15 in the zone for strikes. He also had hits in each game, including three in game two for his third multi-hit game of the season.
Offensively, Duke (5-1) got three RBI each from junior Jeremy Gould and freshman Brian Litwin. Gould tagged four hits on the day two in each game to extend his team-leading hitting streak to 20 games, dating back to the 2008 season. Gould has multiple hits in each of his last seven games during that tear.
Litwin, meanwhile, recorded his first career multi-hit game in the series opener with a pair of base knocks along with his first career stolen base. Second baseman Gabriel Saade finished with two hits in both games, while Will Piwnica-Worms scored twice and added an RBI on three hits, two of which went for extra bases.
Game 1: Litwin Sends In Career-High Three RBI; Manno Scatters Three Hits Over Seven Innings
Duke freshman Brian Litwin, in his second career start, drove in a career-high three RBI and recorded his first career multi-hit game, and starter Christopher Manno held Dartmouth to two runs over seven complete innings to lead Duke to an 8-5 win over Dartmouth Friday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Litwin, 6-2, 185 pound outfielder who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school, tagged two singles back up the middle, including a two-run base knock that gave Duke (4-1, 0-0 ACC) its first lead of the ballgame. Litwin sent in his other run with an RBI fielder’s choice that he legged out to first base to foil a double play and keep the inning alive. He also picked up his first career stolen base in the game, which was his second consecutive start in left field for the Blue Devils.
Manno (1-1), meanwhile, held the Big Green (0-1) scoreless for the first six innings and allowed just four batters to reach base for the game. He gave up just three hits and a walk while striking out four and throwing 92 total pitches. Manno faced just three batters over the minimum and got some help from his defense, which did not commit a single error and turned a double play.
Junior Jeremy Gould, hitting in the three-spot for Duke, sent in a pair of runs with two hits to extend his team-best hitting streak to 19 games. Gabriel Saade also had a pair of hits and two runs on the day, while Nate Freiman, Matt Williams and Alex Hassan drove in one run each.
Dartmouth starter Robert Young (0-1) took the loss after giving up five runs all earned through five innings. All five of those runs came in one inning, however, as Young held Duke to just three hits in his other four innings of work.
Manno made quick work of the top of the Big Green lineup his first time through, retiring the side in order in each of the first three innings. He threw 12 pitches in the first, nine in the second and 11 more in the third and picked up two strikeouts, including the 95th of his career. In his second frame, he fanned Dartmouth’s cleanup hitter on five pitches for the first out and relied on his defense to get the next two. Five-hitter Mike Pagliarulo got ahold of Manno’s first offering and lined it hard to center field, but Will Piwnica-Worms was there to make a diving catch on the tailing line drive in shallow center. Shortstop Jake Lemmerman then ended the inning by fielding a ground ball off the bat of six-hitter Brett Gardner for the third out. His outfield defense took over again in the third, recording three straight flyouts.
In Duke’s first turn at the plate, the Blue Devils’ three and four hitters, Gould and Freiman, managed to pound out consecutive two-strike hits, but Young shut down the brief rally to keep the game scoreless.
Duke kept swinging hard and put up five runs on the board in the bottom of the second after loading the bases twice and getting two-run hits from Litwin and Gould and a sacrifice fly from Freiman. Saade started the rally with a first-pitch single and moved over to third on an ensuing walk to Lemmerman and a hit by pitch against Piwnica-Worms. Litwin then came to the plate and ripped a ground ball back up the middle to score two, just before Young pegged Ryan McCurdy on the foot to reload the bases. With the bases juiced once again and still no outs on the board, Young buckled down and fanned Hassan for the first out, but proceeded to give up a two-run double down the left field line to Gould. Gould’s two-bagger touched the chalk in the outfield and was ruled a fair ball, giving Piwnica-Worms and Litwin plenty of time to cross the plate. Freiman then stepped in the box and mashed a hard-hit fly ball to left field that allowed McCurdy to score from third for Duke’s fifth run of the ballgame.
While Manno kept his pitch count low in the first three frames, tossing just 32 pitches, Young’s ballooned to 64 by the end of the same inning. Eight of those were thrown to Piwnica-Worms in the same at bat with the freshman fouling off three straight with two strikes on the board. Young would eventually sit the Blue Devil freshman down on a flyout though, getting his first hitless inning of the game.
Outfielder Jake Carlson gave Dartmouth its first hit of the ballgame to start the top of the fourth with a tweener that just made it through the left side of Duke’s infield. Carlson represented the Big Green’s first base runner of the game, but got no further than first after Manno induced a double-play ground ball that went from Lemmerman to Saade to Gould to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Litwin put together his first career multi-hit game with a first-pitch base hit back up the middle to start the fourth, but Dartmouth limited the damage by doubling him off at second base. After moving up a base on a groundout, Litwin took off for third on a hard-hit line drive by Hassan, but Big Green shortstop Joe Sclafani was able to glove the liner and tag second the end the inning.
Manno kept mowing through the Dartmouth lineup in the fifth and sixth, sitting down six of his next seven batters faced. A full-count walk to Jack Monahan was his only blemish, giving the Big Green just two base runners through six complete frames.
Dartmouth pulled Young at the start of the bottom of the sixth inning after the lefty had thrown 82 pitches in his first five innings. They brought in right-hander Dan Ternowchek to take over, and Saade welcomed him to the game with a first-pitch single to left field. Lemmerman then lined out to center field for the first out of the inning just before Piwnica-Worms roped a liner through the right side to move Saade all the way over to third. With runners at the corners, Litwin drove in his career-high third RBI with a potential double play ground ball to second base that he beat out at first base to foil what would have been an inning-ending double play. The grounder easily scored Saade from third base to give Duke a 6-0 lead after six complete innings.
Trailing 6-0, Dartmouth finally broke up the shutout on an RBI single from Nick Santomauro that scored James Wren all the way from second base. The base knock followed a one-out double from Wren that just bounced off Litwin’s glove at the left field wall after the freshman tracked the long fly all the way to the warning track. The run would be the first of two in the inning for Dartmouth with the second coming on an RBI groundout by Mike Pagliarulo that scored Santomauro from third. Santomauro was given a free pass to third after his single with Manno fired two consecutive wild pitches in the dirt that rolled all the way to the backstop.
The Blue Devils got back one of the runs in their next turn on an RBI double by Williams that dropped just inside fair territory down the right field line. The two-bagger came with runners in first and third, sending in Gould from third base after he advanced there from first base on a throwing error. The RBI base knock extended his hitting streak to 12 games and his RBI streak to four straight contests.
Sophomore Dennis O'Grady took over for Manno to start the eighth inning and inherited a 7-2 lead. The sophomore right-hander retired his first two batters, striking out one, and stranded Ezra Josephson on second base after the Big Green second baseman reached with a double to right field.
Duke added another insurance run in the eighth on back-to-back two-out doubles from McCurdy and Hassan that jumped the Blue Devil lead to 8-2. McCurdy started the two-out rally by dropping a base hit down the left field line and legging it out into a double. Hassan then came to the plate and crushed another two-bagger to the warning track in center field to score McCurdy from second.
O’Grady stayed on to close out the ninth and had to silence a late Dartmouth rally that saw the Big Green put three more runs on the board with four hits, including a two-run homer from left fielder Brett Gardner. Dartmouth sent seven batters to the plate, with O’Grady retiring the final two with a strikeout and a fielder’s choice groundout.
Game 2: Wolcott Goes Seven Strong; Hassan Collects Two-Inning Save
Senior right-hander Andrew Wolcott went seven complete innings for the second straight start and allowed just one unearned run to notch his second straight victory. Wolcott struck out eight Dartmouth hitters and did not give up a single hit over his final six innings of work. He walked just one batters, which was his first of the season, and now owns a 1.29 ERA through his first 14 innings of the season.
Duke had five players contribute RBI, including Ryan McCurdy, Jeremy Gould, Nate Freiman, Gabriel Saade and Will Piwnica-Worms. Hassan scored twice after reaching base with three hits, including a triple, while Piwnica-Worms also added a three-bagger and a double with his two hits in the game.
Dartmouth carried the momentum over from their final inning of game one and scored in the first inning on an RBI single from Santomauro. The run was unearned, however, after leadoff man Jonathon Santopadre reached on Duke error and advanced to second base on the errant throw. Joe Sclafani pushed him over to third with a groundout to the right side before Santomauro ripped a two-out single to left field to give Dartmouth its first lead of the series.
Duke responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the opening inning, however, when Hassan and Gould strung together back-to-back extra-base hits. Hassan’s was a triple to left field that just got under the glove of a diving Brett Gardner, while Gould’s was a double that rolled into the right field corner. Gould was thrown out at third trying to stretch his into a triple, however, when Santomauro fielded the ball in the corner and hooked up with relay man Raymond Allen to gun down Gould by a step at third.
Wolcott remained effective through three for the Blue Devils, retiring seven straight from the end of the first to the end of the third. He fanned three batters during that span and had still allowed just two hits over his first three frames.
Duke had a chance to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third, but Gardner and Sclafani teamed up to throw out what would have been Duke’s go-ahead run at the plate and negate a two-out base hit by Hassan. Hassan’s base knock to the left field gap came with Litwin on first base and sent the Duke freshman easily to third. Litwin rounded third with a full head of steam and tried to score, but Gardner got the ball to Sclafani in time for the Big Green shortstop to throw out Litwin at the plate by a step. Dartmouth catcher Brandon Parks managed to block the plate just enough to force Litwin into an outside tap slide, but Litwin was still unable to get around to touch the plate.
Wolcott kept dealing through the fifth, putting up his fourth straight scoreless inning. His streak of retired batters came to an end at 10 after giving out a full-count walk, but he got some help from his defense to negate the free pass. With Parks on first after the walk, nine-hitter David Turnbull slapped a ground ball to the hole on the left side of the infield that got under McCurdy’s glove. Shortstop Jake Lemmerman ranged to his left though, and backhanded the ball at the back of the infield. With his momentum still carrying him to his right, Lemmerman turned and fired the ball 60 feet to second base just in time to get the force out for the second out of the inning. McCurdy then ended the threat by charging a weakly-hit ground ball and firing across the infield to Gould to get the final out at first base.
Duke had another opportunity to break up the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fifth, but Hendricks was able to work out of the jam and hold the go-ahead run at third base. Saade led off the inning with a two-strike single to right field for the Blue Devils and put himself in scoring position by stealing second base. He moved over to third on a groundout up the middle, but got Duke’s next two hitters on a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat.
The pitcher’s duel continued into the sixth as Wolcott retired the side in order for the fourth time and put his fifth straight zero up on the scoreboard. But Hendricks was the first pitcher to falter, giving up a run-scoring single to Freiman that gave Duke a 2-1 lead. Freiman’s base knock, a full-count line drive that fell just in front of Gardner in left field, sent in Hassan from second base and moved Gould all the way to third after the two and three-hitters reached base with the first of three straight singles for the Blue Devils. Freiman’s screamer marked the end of the night for Hendricks, who handed the ball over to right-hander Ryan Smith. Smith inherited a first-and-third situation with one out on the board and promptly shut down the Duke rally by striking out Williams and forcing Saade to fly out to limit the damage to just one run.
Wolcott kept Dartmouth in check yet again in the seventh, chalking up two more strikeouts in another three-up, three-down inning, giving him eight punchouts on the game. He tied his career high by getting through the seventh inning, a mark he also reached in his previous start against La Salle.
But while a one-run lead would be all Wolcott needed, Duke added XXX more in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by McCurdy and a Dartmouth throwing error on a pickoff. McCurdy’s base knock drove in Lemmerman, who reached after being hit by a pitch on the shoulder, and moved Piwnica-Worms over to third after he legged out a double on blooper to right field. With runners at the corners, Smith fired to first base, but missed his target and sent the ball to the backstop. The throwing error sent Piwnica-Worms across the plate and McCurdy all the way to third, but Smith rebounded to get the next two Duke batters to end the inning.
Wolcott would not get a chance to break his career highs of seven innings pitched or nine strikeouts, as closer Hassan took the mound in the top of the eighth to finish the game. The 6-4, 200 pound two-way right-hander struck out the first two batters he faced and forced the third into a groundout, giving him five strikeouts through his first two innings pitched.
As part of a defensive substitution in the eighth, freshman Joe Pedevillano stepped into the cleanup spot for his first career at bat. Smith would eventually strike him out, but could do little with the next batter, Williams, who laid down a perfect bunt that hugged the third base line all the way to the bag. With Williams on first after the bunt single, Saade took just one pitch and belted the next one he saw over Gardner’s head in left field for an RBI double. The two-bagger was Saade’s first extra-base hit of the season and the start of back-to-back extra-base knocks, as Piwnica-Worms followed with his first career triple. Piwnica-Worms’ triple easily scored Saade from second base and prompted another pitching change for the Big Green. Freshman lefty Marco Mariscal took the mound, inheriting a runner on third with two outs and a 6-1 deficit, and fanned the first batter he faced to end the inning and pick up his first career strikeout.
Hassan stayed on to close out the ninth and retired the side in order to record his second save of the season. It was also the seventh save of his career, moving him into a tie for seventh place on Duke’s all-time list.
Duke and Dartmouth will continue the series with a 1 p.m. finale on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Jack Coombs Field. Junior Jonathan Foreman (0-0, 5.79 ERA) will take the mound for the Blue Devils opposite Dartmouth right-hander Ben Murray (0-0, 0.00 ERA). In the event of rain, the teams will conclude the series on Sunday.