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Drew Van Orde
Courtesy: Duke Photography
Drew Van Orde
Duke Splits Saturday DH with No. 1 Virginia
Friday 03/08/2014  -  Duke Sports Information
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DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team went toe-to-toe with top-ranked Virginia in its ACC opening series Saturday at Jack Coombs Field, splitting a doubleheader against the Cavaliers. UVa took the first game 3-2, before Duke rebounded for the 3-2 victory in the second contest. 
 
Game 1
Virginia sophomore left-hander Nathan Kirby (4-0) struck out nine Blue Devil batter over six complete frames to send the Cavaliers to a 3-2 victory in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Kirby yielded one hit, a Chris Marconcini single in the second, and walked one batter without giving up a run to move to 4-0 on the year.
 
Virginia (10-3, 1-1 ACC) totaled seven hits to Duke’s four in the opening contest. Blue Devil senior right-hander Drew Van Orden (1-1) pitched well in the loss, allowing two runs while scattering five hits in 5.1 innings of work. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native walked three and struck out five on the day.
 
Duke’s defense was solid behind the senior starter, playing an errorless game while turning three double plays in support of Van Orden.
 
“It was a great job by Van Orden,” said head coach Chris Pollard, “He doesn’t know until earlier this week that he’s going to have to make that move. He has the long stretch off, throwing Wednesday and then not coming back till Saturday. He steps in against the best team in the country and gives us a start that’s good enough to win the ball game.”
 
UVa reliever Whit Mayberry pitched two scoreless innings to help the Cavaliers take a 3-0 advantage into the bottom of the ninth. Senior Mike Rosenfeld laced a two-out single to extend the game before Marconcini belted his fourth home run of the season. The Brentwood, Tenn., native sent Virginia closer Nick Howard’s 1-1 offering over the wall in right, marking the first runs permitted by Howard in six appearances this season.
 
Duke was unable to pull closer in the end as Howard recorded the strikeout for the final out, earning his third save of the year.
 
“I thought our bullpen did a good enough job of coming in behind Van Orden and holding it close enough that we were always within striking distance,” Pollard said. “We played our best game defensively that we’ve played all year. We turned three double plays. We nearly threw the guy out at the plate. There were a lot of things we did well defensively and on the mound. We’re just really feeling for it now at the plate. I credit our club for fighting until the last out. Rosenfeld does a good job of extending the inning and Marconcini hits the bomb to pull us right there within one swing of the bat. We haven’t gotten it going offensively the way we need to or the way we’re capable of.”
 
Seven Cavalier players had one hit in the ball game as Kenny Towns and Branden Cogswell both chipped in RBI singles while Mike Papi delivered a solo home run in the seventh to make it a 3-0 contest.
 
Sophomore Kenny Koplove reached base twice, drawing a walk in the sixth and adding a base knock in the eighth. 
 
 
Game 2
Despite recording just one hit in the game, Duke was able to manufacture enough runs to hand Virginia a 3-2 loss in game two, snapping a six-game losing streak to the Cavaliers.
 
UVa pitchers Josh Sborz (3-1), David Rosenberger and Connor Jones combined to one-hit Duke, however, the trio surrendered nine walks and one hit batter to bolster the Blue Devil offense.
 
Junior Andrew Istler (2-2) was sensational, perplexing the Virginia hitters over a career-best 8.0 innings of work. The Wellington, Fla., native allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out three and walking three.
 
“The thing that was so impressive about Istler’s performance was that he got better as the game wore on,” Pollard added. “His roughest inning was the third inning, and from that point forward he just got better and better. His stuff even got better. He got more sink on his fastball and [Virginia] just beat the ball into the ground against him. That’s a sign that his sinker was really working.”
 
In the bottom of the second, Marconcini drew a leadoff walk and ultimately scored from third on a Reed Anthes groundout after advancing on a Jordan Betts walk and Mark Lumpa sacrifice bunt.
 
Duke’s early 1-0 lead evaporated quickly after Virginia sent two runs across in the top of the third. Back-to-back singles from John La Prise and Daniel Pinero kickstarted the UVa offense as both would score in the frame. La Prise crossed home on a Cogswell grounder to second before a Duke throwing miscue permitted Pinero to reach home.
 
The Blue Devils plated the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the fourth, drawing five-consecutive two-out walks to score a pair. Sborz sat down the first two batters he faced before walking four straight for Duke’s first run of the frame. Rosenberger came in and walked Aaron Cohn with the bases loaded before second baseman Cogswell made a spectacular sliding catch to end the inning.
 
“Sometimes you just have to take what’s given to you” Pollard said. “They walked some guys and that allowed us to push a couple runs across. You got to win any way you can win. We got to make some changes offensively. We got to get better, but in the meantime, we have to take what we can get. They gave us some free offense and we did a good job of taking advantage of it.”
 
Istler retired 11 straight batters from the fourth to the eighth innings to maintain the 3-2 advantage. Senior Robert Huber took the mound in the ninth and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam for his third save of the season. After a La Prise walk loaded the bases with one out, Huber got Pinero to pop out to shallow right, but fell behind to leadoff man Papi, 3-2. Huber painted the outside corner on his final pitch, picking up his second strikeout to seal the victory, Duke’s first over a top-ranked team since the Blue Devils defeated then-No. 1 North Carolina, 10-9, on March 22, 2009.
 
“You could make the case that Mike Papi is the best hitter in the country,” Pollard said. “Bases loaded, 3-2, got to be a strike and you know that guy’s gonna want to swing the bat … to make that type of pitch in that moment, it’s guts. It’s tremendous leadership. That’s three games in a row [Huber’s] kind of been Houdini out there, and I’m proud of him.”
 
Duke and Virginia are set to meet in the series finale at Jack Coombs Field Sunday, March 9 at 1 p.m.
 
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