DURHAM, N.C. – Blue Devil right-handers James Marvel, Michael Matuella and Andrew Istler combined for the five-hit shutout as the Duke baseball team defeated Charlotte 3-0 in non-conference action Wednesday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Marvel (2-2) earned his second win in as many games as Duke’s rookie starter threw seven scoreless innings tonight against the 49ers. Marvel faced the minimum in four innings, scattering five hits overall, before giving way to fellow freshman Matuella in the eighth. Neither Matuella nor sophomore Andrew Istler allowed a hit as each tossed a scoreless inning in relief.
“We pitched great and I thought we played great defense against a very good club,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Charlotte comes into this ball game hitting over .300 and playing very well coming off of a four-game sweep over the weekend. I thought our situational hitting was good. We had two opportunities to score a run with a fly ball in the third and we did it. We also used the bunt effectively. When we do that, we’re going to be a better offensive club.”
Sophomore Andy Perez belted his second leadoff home run of the season to put Duke (11-10, 2-4 ACC) on top 1-0 early. The shot was the second of Perez’s career as the Roswell, Ga., native has registered both home runs in the past three games.
The Blue Devils added a pair in the bottom of the third to extend their lead to 3-0. Senior Jeff Kremer began the frame with a single down the left field line, followed by a Chris Marconcini double to left. With runners at second and third, junior Jordan Betts picked up his 14th RBI of the season with a sac fly to center field. A balk against 49er righty Ryan Mas advanced Marconcini to third and the Duke first baseman scored on a Matt Berezo sac fly to right.
“We really spent our entire practice yesterday focusing on executing situationally,” said Pollard. “The opportunity presented itself with a runner on third with less than two out two separate times in the inning, and both times we came up with the RBI fly out. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of how we used the bunt effectively. I thought we did a better job of understanding who we are offensively in the ball game.”
Charlotte (14-6, 0-0 Atlantic 10) put together its biggest threat of the evening in the top of the fifth as back-to-back base hits placed runners on the corners with no outs. Marvel was able to work out of the jam, however, getting a pair of fly ball outs and a groundout to end the frame unscathed.
“That was a key defensive moment in the ball game” added Pollard. “Just a great job of [Marvel] executing, not letting the game speed up on him, slowing things down in his mind and executing.”
The 49ers would not advance a runner past first the rest of the way as Duke earned its third shutout victory of the season.
Istler recorded his ACC-leading fifth save on the year in the contest, while sophomore Grant McCabe, junior Mark Lumpa and freshman Kenny Koplove paced the Duke offense with two hits each.
Charlotte starter Wes Hatley (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing one run on three hits in one inning.
Duke travels to Clemson this weekend for a three-game series Friday-Sunday, Mar. 23-26 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Game times will be 6:30 p.m. Friday, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.