DURHAM, N.C. – Jake Lemmerman went 3-for-5 with three RBI, three runs, a double, triple and three stolen bases to help Duke top Wofford 15-9 Wednesday evening at Jack Coombs Field.
Lemmerman was one of three Blue Devils with three RBI, joining Alex Hassan, who went 2-for-4, and Eric Pfisterer, who finished 3-for-5. The Blue Devils (26-13, 9-9 ACC) mashed five of their 12 hits for extra bases with Hassan doubling twice and Pfisterer once.
Duke had six players cross the plate at least twice. First baseman Nate Freiman drew three walks and scored twice, while Jeremy Gould also drew two free passes on the way to two runs. Ryan McCurdy also logged his second three-hit game of the season with three singles.
Wofford (14-17) pounded 11 hits, including a three-run homer by designated hitter Mike McDonnell, but could not make up for the 12 free passes that the Terrier pitching staff dished out. Of Duke’s 15 runs, eight of those were initially put on base with a walk. Duke pounded Wofford starter Jordan Mickleberry for five runs and then scored seven off of reliever Bobby DeLuria (1-3), who took the loss.
Duke senior Kyle Butler (3-0) notched his third win of the season with a one-inning relief appearance in which he got the final two outs in the fourth inning before Duke broke the game open with a seven-run bottom of the fourth. Relievers Joe Pedevillano, Tim Sherlock and David Putman then took over on the mound for the rest of the game and held the Terriers to one run and three hits.
Duke struck first on a pair of two-out doubles by Hassan and Lemmerman in the first inning. Hassan sent his double – his 14th of the season – down the left field line to send in Freiman for Duke’s first run, while Lemmerman followed with a two-run drive off the left field wall. Freiman, batting in the leadoff spot for the second straight game, drew a four-pitch walk to start the rally, which was one of two free passes given out by Wofford starter Jordan Mickleberry in the inning.
Duke starter Ryan Knott came out in the second inning and struck out his second and third batters of the game as part of another scoreless inning. He could not keep Wofford’s bats quiet for long, however, and gave way to a five-run third inning that included a three-run homer by McDonnell. Two Duke fielding errors helped the Terriers out in the inning, but the real damage came from the four hits that Wofford put together, the first of which was a leadoff double by Jake Williams. Gould saved any further damage by robbing Neil Robinette of a potential RBI double by running down his fly ball in the gap and diving to make the catch for the third out.
Duke responded by scoring three runs in the third to reclaim a 6-5 lead. All three runs came as part of a two-out rally that included a pair of consecutive singles from Pfisterer and McCurdy. Pfisterer sent in the first two runs with a two-out single to left-center for his second hit in as many at bats. The line drive knock drove in Gould and Lemmerman and put runners at the corners for McCurdy, who slapped another RBI knock to shallow right field. Both hits came off of reliever Anthony Rowland, who relieved Mickleberry after he walked the first two batters in the inning.
Duke’s lead was short-lived, however, as the Terriers came back with a two-run fourth inning that put them back on top 8-6. Wofford loaded the bases on two walks and a single from Behrendt and then got a two-run single from Diamaduros that erased the 6-5 deficit. The single came off of Butler and also moved Behrendt to third, where he would score from shortly after on a groundout by McDonnell.
But the lead changed hands once more in the bottom of the fourth when Duke scored seven runs on five hits, including an RBI triple by Lemmerman and a two-run double by Hassan. Wofford gave Duke four outs in the inning after the newly-inserted DeLuria fielded a ground ball hit back to the mound and misfired to second base to spoil a double-play opportunity and let both runners come up safe. Duke followed that up with an RBI single by Saade, an RBI triple by Lemmerman and consecutive hits by Pfisterer and McCurdy. DeLuria then dished out two walks to Freiman and Williams to load the bases for Hassan, who blooped a fly ball into no man’s land in right field. None of the three Terriers who converged on the ball could come up with it, letting it fall between them to send in two runs. Williams, who was on first base to start the play, opted to try and score, but was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Neil Robinette.
Butler came out in the fifth and struck out his fifth batter, but wrapped a pair of walks around the punchout to give Wofford a man in scoring position with one out. Duke brought in Pedevillano to get out of the jam, and the freshman lefty came through by retiring two of the three hitters he faced. He got some help from Freiman, who chased a foul pop up all the way to the fence and reached into the visitor’s bullpen to snag the ball for the second.
Pedevillano got into a jam in the top of the sixth after giving up a leadoff single to Diamaduros and a walk to McDonnell, but rolled a double-play ground ball to McCurdy to get two quick outs. The turn was the 35th of the season for the Blue Devils, who are averaging just under one per game.
An RBI single by Gould tacked on one more run for the Blue Devils to increase their lead to 14-8 in the bottom of the sixth. The base knock was the second of two in the inning for Duke, the first of which was a leadoff single by McCurdy for his third knock of the game.
Wofford immediately got the run back, however, thanks to a pair of doubles from Williams and Foster. Both knocks came off Sherlock, who gave up just his second run of the season. Duke responded with another run in the bottom of the seventh to jump back on top by six at 15-9. Lemmerman created a run almost entirely on his own by drawing and then stealing two bases to put himself on third base. He easily scored from there on the ensuing sacrifice fly by Piwnica-Worms.
Piwnica-Worms’ sac fly would be the last run of the game, as Sherlock and Putman got through the eighth and ninth without surrendering a hit. Putman struck out two batters to end the game, giving the freshman right-hander seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings this season.
Duke will resume ACC play this weekend with a three-game series against Maryland on Friday through Sunday, April 17-19, in College Park, Md. The series opens at 7 p.m. on Friday with Duke right-hander Andrew Wolcott (5-2, 2.18 ERA) taking the hill opposite Maryland’s Scott Swinson (2-5, 6.00 ERA).