DURHAM, N.C. – Nate Freiman went a combined 6-for-9 with a grand slam and seven RBI while three Blue Devils combined for a no-hitter in game two as Duke defeated N.C. Central 8-2 and 22-0 in a pair of seven-inning games Tuesday evening at Jack Coombs Field.
Freiman went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs in game one and followed with seven RBI in a 3-for-5 outing in game two that featured his first career grand slam. The four-run homer was Duke’s first grand slam since Jimmy Gallagher accomplished the feat on March 15, 2006. The outing was also the second seven-RBI performance of the season for Freiman, who is batting .455 with 11 RBI since returning to the starting lineup five games ago.
Even more impressive than Freiman’s offensive day was the collective effort of pitchers Christopher Manno, John Bunder (1-0) and Ron Causey, who combined for a no-hitter in game two. The trio allowed only one Eagle to reach base and faced the minimum after catcher Kyle Kreick caught N.C. Central’s lone base runner stealing second. Bunder was awarded the win, the first of his career, after contributing three innings in relief of Manno, who started the game and struck out four batters over the first two frames. Causey closed out the final two innings by retiring all six batters he faced. They combined for nine strikeouts and needed just 85 pitches to seal the win.
Sophomore outfielder Jeremy Gould also had a solid offensive day for Duke (25-12, 5-12 ACC) and picked up his third and fourth home runs of the season with one in each game. Freshman shortstop Jake Lemmerman reached base in every one of his eight plate appearances, collecting three hits, four walks and one hit by pitch.
After N.C. Central (6-21) scored a pair of runs in the first inning of game two, Duke rattled off 30 unanswered runs while holding the Eagles to just four hits over the final 13 innings of the double header. Center fielder Oliver Jenkins and second baseman Kurt Wilson scored the lone runs while each collected a hit in a 1-for-3 outing in the opener. Kenny Martin also came off the bench to hammer a pinch-hit double in the opener.
Game One: Gould And Saade Combine For Four RBI To Back Six Scoreless Innings From Currier And Knott
Jeremy Gould homered and drove in a pair of runs, while Gabriel Saade also contributed a pair of RBI and a double to lead Duke to an 8-2 win in game one. Nate Freiman went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs, while Jonathan Nicolla accounted for three runs with one batted in and two scored.
Will Currier notched the win after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first inning before holding the Eagles scoreless on one hit over his next four frames. Ryan Knott took over in the sixth and scattered three hits en route to his sixth scoreless relief outing of the year.
Freshman Sam Allen earned the start and game one, but had a rocky start to his first collegiate outing after allowing a pair of runs in the first inning on a bunt single and four walks. Despite flashing an impressive breaking ball, Allen struggled to find the strike zone and walked in a pair of runners before Duke brought in Currier to end the inning with a three-pitch strikeout.
N.C. Central starter Brandon Oatis was sharp in his first inning until Freiman stepped into the box and launched a two-out double deep to the left-center field gap. The double, which was the sixth of the season for Freiman, immediately followed a towering shot into the trees in left field that was called foul for the second strike. Following his double, Freiman was given a free pass to third base on a balk from Oatis, but got no further as the Eagle starter induced an inning-ending groundout to his shortstop to escape the jam.
Nicolla opened the second inning with his first career triple after legging out a fly ball that dropped just inside the right field line. He was almost stranded on the base after Oatis retired the next two hitters, but easily trotted the final 90 feet to the plate after Lemmerman racked a two-out double to the right-center field gap.
N.C. Central ended a streak of six straight retired batters for Currier after taking a pair of walks with two outs in the top of the third. Currier got out of the first-and-second jam, however, after rolling a ground ball to Lemmerman, who easily fielded it and flipped to Saade at second base for the final out.
Hassan proceeded to tie the score with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the third that opened a three-run rally to put the Blue Devils ahead 4-2. Hassan’s solo shot was his third long ball of the season and his second of the series after the sophomore leadoff man ripped one in a three-RBI outing in the last meeting between the two teams. Following the game-tying homer, Williams reached with a single before moving to third on a well-hit double to the warning track in center field by Freiman. Freiman’s second two-bagger of the game set the table for consecutive sacrifice flies to right field from Gould and Nicolla that erased the tied score and put Duke ahead by two.
Duke had a chance to increase the lead to four runs, but center fielder Oliver Jenkins robbed Williams of a potential two-run double by chasing down his fly ball deep in the left-center gap before fully extending to make the catch on the warning track. The run-saving catch ended the inning and neutralized a second-and-third situation for the Blue Devils, who put a pair of runners on base with one out after an N.C. Central fielding error and a walk.
The Blue Devils repeated the situation in their next offensive series, however, and were able to come away with three runs to go ahead 7-2. Saade came through with a two-run double to the left-center gap to send in the first pair before Kreick followed with a seeing-eye single to the right side to drive in Saade, who stole third to put himself in better position to score. Lemmerman then drew a walk to put runners at the corners, prompting the Eagles to bring in
Following four shutout innings from Currier, Knott took over on the mound for Duke in the top of the sixth. The freshman right-hander continued the solid work, facing the minimum three hitters while inducing a double play ground ball for Duke’s 22nd turn of the season. He also struck out his ninth batter of the year in the inning to bring his strikeout average to nearly eight per game.
Gould provided an insurance run for the Blue Devils in the next half inning after launching a solo homer well over the left field fence to give Duke an 8-2 lead. The solo shot came on a 1-0 count and was the first two on the night for Gould.
Game 2: Freiman’s Seven RBI Backs Combined No Hitter From Manno, Bunder And Causey
Nate Freiman put together his second seven-RBI game of the season with a 3-for-5 outing that featured his first career grand slam, sacrifice fly ball and a pair of RBI singles. The grand slam was the fifth long ball of the season for Freiman, who took over the team’s home run lead while moving from sixth to third on the team’s RBI leaderboard. With the performance, Freiman has now driven in 26 RBI in 19 games this season.
Starter Christopher Manno and relievers John Bunder and Ron Causey benefited from Freiman’s day, but needed just one to work with as the trio combined for a no hitter while facing the minimum 21 batters. They allowed only one base runner to reach before he was quickly sent back to the dugout by catcher Kyle Kreick, who gunned down the Eagle while he was trying to steal second base.
Bunder was credited with the win after tossing three near-perfect innings in relief of Manno. The freshman right-hander issued just one walk while striking out three in his fifth straight appearance of two innings or more. Since surrendering three runs over two innings against Virginia on March 15, Bunder has found a groove and put together a 1.00 ERA over 9.0 innings in his last four outings. He has allowed just four hits and two walks during that span while striking out seven.
Manno was nearly untouchable in his two innings of work, retiring all six batters he faced while striking out four in a row. He fanned the last two batters in the first inning before picking up two more to start the second. Manno has now struck out at least one batter in the first inning of each of his seven starts on the way to 47 punchouts this season.
The Blue Devils then provided two home runs on the way to seven runs in the bottom of the second to allow Manno to exit the game with a 7-0 lead in hand. Jeremy Gould blasted the first bomb to open the inning before Freiman wrapped up the scoring outburst with a grand slam for his fifth long ball of the season. Gould’s shot was his second on the day while Freiman’s was his second in the last five games since returning to the lineup on April 11. Right fielder Tom Luciano and center fielder Alex Hassan also provided RBI in the inning, with Luciano drawing a bases-loaded walk just before Hassan sent in Lemmerman with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
Bunder took over for Manno in the third as part of a predetermined split and was just as effective, picking up a pair of strikeouts while facing the minimum three batters. He got some help from behind the plate as Kreick erased a full count walk issued to Tim McAllister by gunning down the Eagle left fielder at second base on a stolen base attempt. McAllister was the third runner caught stealing by Kreick in seven attempts this season.
Following a leadoff single in the third inning, Duke designated hitter Jonathan Nicolla went station-to-station before scoring from third on a passed ball. The base hit was the second of the game for Nicolla, who advanced to second on a walk to Jake Lemmerman before heading to third on a groundout back to the pitcher from Ryan McCurdy. He was able to cruise to the plate with two outs when a 1-1 offering to Luciano slipped between the legs of N.C. Central catcher Blake Murray and rolled to the backstop.
With an 8-0 lead to protect, Bunder continued to deal through the fourth and fifth, retiring the next six batters with just 21 pitches.
Freiman added yet another RBI in the bottom of the fourth for the first of six runs in the inning to run Duke’s lead to 14-0. Following Freiman’s RBI base knock that scored Hassan from second, Kreick drove in a run with a sacrifice fly before N.C. Central reliever Jeff Citero reloaded the bases by walking Lemmerman. Citero’s control problems continued as he plunked McCurdy to send in a run before dishing out an RBI walk to Luciano that brought the top of Duke’s lineup to the plate with the bases still loaded. Hassan and Saade then proceeded to drive in two more runs with consecutive singles before Citero finally got out of the inning after forcing Freiman to foul out to his first baseman.
After the six-run inning, N.C. Central changed pitchers again, sending left-hander Mike Cornwell to the mound in the fifth. Cornwell also struggled with his command and dished out four walks to five hitters to send in a pair of runs before James Jordan took over for his second pitching appearance of the day.
Causey took over for Bunder at the start of the sixth with the daunting task of finishing out the no-hitter. He cruised through his first inning, striking out the first and third hitters to keep the momentum in Duke’s favor. The senior right-hander came out again in the seventh, needing just three outs to seal the no-hit bid. He forced the first batter to fly out to Luciano in center field, but nearly had the hitless game broken up after Gene Suarez ripped a ground ball to the left side. McCurdy saved the potential single, however, by laying out to make a diving stop on his glove side before popping up and firing to first for the second to last out. Causey then got the final out by inducing a flyout to Ghizzoni in left field.
Duke will make its second non-conference road trip of the season on Wednesday as the Blue Devils head to