Drew Van Orden had never thrown a shutout at Duke. Just under three hours and 121 pitches later, that had changed, and Duke had evened its record at the 2014 ACC Baseball Tournament at 1-1 after a 6-0 win over Georgia Tech.Entering Thursday afternoon’s ACC Tournament contest against Georgia Tech, Duke starting pitcher
“Couldn't have come at a better time,” Van Orden said. “I struggled the last two weeks a little bit so it was good to try and come back and give the team everything I had and give them a chance to win. It was great out there. The defense played great behind me, and the coach called great pitches so everything was working.”
“Two words – Drew Van Orden,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said when asked about the difference in the game. “Maybe that's three words, I don’t know. He pretty much had our number. We couldn't make adjustments at the plate, and that's the story of the game.”
In what likely amounted to an NCAA Tournament elimination game after Wednesday’s ACC tournament-opening loss to Clemson, the senior out of Manhattan Beach, CA broke a personal two-start losing streak, and avenged a loss he took in Atlanta in early April when Duke was swept by the Yellow Jackets.
Van Orden’s last scoreless outing came against N.C. State, exactly one week after that April 4th loss.
“We did a great job with our situational hitting but really the story is the job by Van Orden,” said Duke head coach Chris Pollard after the win. “He pitched an incredible ballgame.”
Van Orden’s five-hit shutout allowed Duke (33-24) to notch its 17th ACC win of the year, a new program record. The 1994 club won 16 games against Atlantic Coast Conference competition.
“We’ll look back on the historical perspective of it and the season in general after the year is over with, said Duke head coach Chris Pollard. “We’ll spend the next 48 hours trying to put together a good plan, forty hours, trying to put together a good plan for Miami.”
After the Blue Devils tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh and one a piece in the eighth and ninth innings, the outcome was less in doubt than whether it would be Van Orden tossing the final pitch. After navigating through a walk and a pair of hits in the final two frames, Van Orden was able to finish what he started.
“We talked about it there when there were two out in the eighth,” Pollard said. “was it time to get him out of there? He was approaching 100 pitches. “When Gonzales came to the plate, we thought, depending on how that at bat went, that might be his last at-bat of the day. When he got that at-bat and made some really good pitches, I told coach See to leave it up to him, and then ask him when he got back over to the dugout. Drew really wanted it.”
“It was really important,” admitted Van Orden. “Being a senior and being here for the first time and I was just trying to get the ball over the plate, keep throwing my pitches, keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Now, it’s up to Trent Swart, and his team-leading ERA of 1.49, to keep doing what he’s been doing all year as the Blue Devils look to knock off Miami Saturday afternoon.