The Duke baseball team wrapped up its fourth straight winning season in 2010 after posting a 29-27 overall record and a 8-22 mark in the ACC. Included in that record were a pair of series wins over two ranked opponents with a 2-1 series win over No. 11 North Carolina and another 2-1 series win over No. 11 Clemson. The Blue Devils also picked up top-25 wins over No. 6 Florida State and No. 15 Virginia Tech.
The Blue Devils once again excelled defensively, finishing among the top 20 nationally in fielding percentage, while the trio of Jake Lemmerman, Jeremy Gould and Will Piwnica-Worms provided the foundation of Duke's offense with a combined .322 batting average and at least 40 RBI apiece. Duke's squad also featured the 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year in two-way infielder Marcus Stroman and two of the most valuable defensive players in the league in Lemmerman, senior catcher Ryan McCurdy and junior utility player Dennis O'Grady.
Duke Makes Home Debut At DBAP
The Blue Devils played 18 home games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, home of the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Duke finished 10-8 at the new home venue with both of the team's top-25 series wins taking place on that field. Dennis O'Grady had the most success of any Blue Devil at the DBAP, batting .333 while logging a 3.90 ERA on the mound. Will Currier also cracked four of his nine homers over the 32-foot "Blue Monster" in left field.
Under fifth-year head coach Sean McNally, Duke once again finished among the top 20 nationally in fielding percentage, posting a .975 mark in 56 games. The Blue Devils, who led the nation in fielding percentage in 2008 and posted a school-record .979 clip in 2009, made just 53 errors all season and were one of just three ACC teams to finish with fewer errors than games played. Led by junior shortstop Jake Lemmerman, who posted a .987 fielding percentage as the nation's top defense shortstop, the Blue Devils played error-free baseball in 22 games and at one point strung together five consecutive errorless games, all wins.
Shortstop Jake Lemmerman turned in his best season in a Duke uniform as a junior and led the team with a .335 batting average, 73 hits, 11 homers, 45 RBI, a.569 slugging percentage and a .418 on base percentage. Lemmerman, who owned a career .285 batting average and just nine homers entering 2010, emerged as one of the best all-around shortstops in the ACC. The 6-2, 190-pound junior also stole nine bases in 12 attempts and led all conference shortstops with a .987 fielding percentage. Lemmerman made just three errors all season.
Second Half Slugger
Duke junior shortstop Jake Lemmerman continued his career-long trend of second-half breakouts by hitting .362 over his final 26 games of 2010. Lemmerman cracked at least one hit in 22 of those games with multiple knocks in 10 outings. For his career, Lemmerman boasts a .329 average in the second half compared to a .270 clip in the first half. Lemmerman also made just one error during the second half of 2010.
Duke's freshman class yielded several impact players, most notably ACC Freshman of the Year Marcus Stroman. Stroman, a 5-9, 185-pound two-way player, did a little bit of everything for the Blue Devils, leading the team with six wins and 64 strikeouts on the mound while hitting .265 with 10 doubles, two triples and two homers. Stroman also stole 11 bases in 14 attempts and scored 26 runs while starting 44 games at second base. He led the team with 144 defensive assists and also had a hand in 26 of Duke's 48 double plays.
Along with Stroman, Duke got immediate contributions from freshman third baseman Eric Brady, outfielder Mike Carroll and right-handed pitcher Chase Bebout. Brady started 45 games while hitting .244 with 22 RBI and 22 runs. Carroll appeared in 41 contests and bat .258 with five stolen bases. Bebout, meanwhile, went 4-2 on the mound with a 5.92 ERA. Bebout worked his way into the weekend rotation midway through the season and made three ACC starts, going 1-2 in conference games.
Duke's seven seniors left the program with a 130-94-1 record during their four-year tenure, which is the best record by a class since Duke's 1998 seniors went 140-90. The 2010 class' 130 wins ranked tied for the 10th-most victories by a class in Duke history alongside the 2009 seniors. The group, which includes Will Currier, Jonathan Foreman, Jeremy Gould, Christopher Manno, Ryan McCurdy, Michael Ness and Michael Seander, becomes the first class since the 1998 seniors to post four straight winning seasons.
Behind The Mask
With the 2009 graduation of four-year starting catcher Matt Williams, Duke was forced to employ a new face behind the plate for the first time since 2006. The Blue Devils opted to convert third baseman Ryan McCurdy, who was the best defensive third baseman in the ACC in 2008 and 2009, to the position despite his never having caught in his collegiate, high school or even youth baseball career. The 5-10, 180-pound McCurdy took to the position almost immediately and went on to catch a team-high 42 games. He did not make a single error as Duke's backstop and threw out 19 runners which ranked second in the ACC. Opposing runners were successful on just 68 percent of their attempts against McCurdy.
Academic All-District III
In addition to finishing 2010 as Duke's top two hitters, Jake Lemmerman and Will Piwnica-Worms were both named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III second team. Lemmerman posted a 3.35 GPA as a history major while Piwnica-Worms owns a 3.57 GPA. The duo followed in the footsteps of 2009 seniors Nate Freiman and Matt Williams, who were both named to the team for two consecutive seasons. Duke baseball has placed at least two student-athletes on the Academic All-District III Team for four consecutive seasons.
The Blue Devils posted a 21-5 record against non-ACC foes in 2010. That record included a 13-game non-conference win streak and a 20-1 mark against non-ACC foes from Feb. 26 until a 6-4 loss at Wofford on May 12. In five seasons under head coach Sean McNally, the Blue Devils are 98-32 (.754) against non-conference teams. Included in that record was a perfect 27-0 mark against non-conference teams in 2008.
Duke junior Dennis O'Grady played was one of the most valuable commodities in Duke's lineup. The 5-10, 195-pound right-hander served as Duke's most consistent weekend starter and, when not on the mound, played five different positions for the Blue Devils. O'Grady started at first base, second base, right field and left field this season while batting .283 with 28 RBI. On the mound, he made a team-high 11 weekend starts and gave up three earned runs or less in seven of those outings. O'Grady hit .319 over his final 20 games while driving in 16 runs during that span.
The Blue Devils received an influx of home run power from an unlikely source in 2010. Senior Will Currier, who was primarily a pitcher for his first three seasons, switched from the mound to Duke's full-time designated hitter in his final season and delivered nine homers, eight doubles and 26 RBI in 43 games. Currier's nine homers ranked second on the team while his .531 slugging percentage also ranked second, both behind shortstop Jake Lemmerman. Currier was one of the hottest hitters in the ACC during a 16-game stretch in April when he homered eight times, drove in 18 RBI and batted .351 while starting every game. On the year, seven of Currier's nine homers came against ACC teams.
Can O' Corn
Duke center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms cemented his reputation as one of the ACC's best outfielders by committing just one error in 153 tries. Piwnica-Worms, who has started every game since joining the program in 2009, strung together 107 consecutive games without committing an error before an errant throw on May 14 at Virginia Tech ended that streak. For his career, Piwnica-Worms has made just two errors in 115 games.
Duke stole 74 bases, which was the most steals in a season since 1993. Duke had three players finish with double-digit steals, including team leader Joe Pedevillano who went 13-for-16. Freshman Marcus Stroman went 11-for-14 on the base paths while sophomore Will Piwnica-Worms finished 10-for-16. The Blue Devils were successful in 73 percent of their attempts and stole seven bases in a game twice on the year, both of which were without being caught. Stroman swiped four bags in one game - the most by any ACC player in 2010 - while Pedevillano turned in two performances with three swipes.
Senior left-hander Christopher Manno struck out 55 batters in 46.2 innings in 2010 on the way to his 200th career strikeout. Manno became just the 11th pitcher in Duke history to strike out 200 batters and finished his career ranked tied for 10th all-time on Duke's career strikeout list. Manno, a 6-2, 165-pound southpaw, also owns Duke's single-season strikeout rate record after fanning 12.27 hitters per nine innings. For his career, Manno averaged 10.37 strikeouts per game and posted a 2.4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Sophomore right-hander Ben Grisz emerged as Duke's top reliever, making a team-high 25 appearances out of the bullpen. Grisz fired 47.0 innings - all in relief - and finished with a 3-3 record and three saves. A 6-1, 220 pound right-hander, Grisz tossed multiple innings in 16 appearances, including seven outings of at least three innings.