DURHAM, N.C. - Freshman right-hander James Marvel picked up his first career win to help the Duke baseball team to a 6-3 victory over N.C. Central Tuesday evening at the Durham Athletic Park
Marvel (1-2) turned in a strong performance in his fourth career start, tossing seven complete innings against the Eagles. The Moraga, Calif., native recorded 1-2-3 innings in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth while limiting the Eagles to three hits overall. Marvel allowed three runs on the evening, striking out three while issuing two walks.
An opportunistic Duke (9-7, 2-1 ACC) offense utilized three NCCU miscues to plate six runs in the game. Senior Jeff Kremer and redshirt sophomore Chris Marconcini were both 2-for-4 on the night to lead the Blue Devils. Kremer also scored a pair of runs while Marconcini totaled two RBI and a run scored. Sophomore Andy Perez, junior Jordan Betts and sophomore Grant McCabe recorded the remaining hits for Duke as Perez stretched his current hit streak to nine games with a leadoff double in the first.
"First and foremost, it was a tremendous performance by James Marvel," said head coach Chris Pollard. "I thought he showed a lot of competitive fight. He cut down on his walks and was very aggressive in the strike zone. He really set a tone for us. We didn't have a great offensive approach tonight. We did just enough offensively, but I thought we played great defense. [Andrew] Istler did a tremendous job out of the pen and that was enough. But to me the key was Marvel and his start. I credit Grant McCabe who came up with a big single there in the ninth to give us a little bit of breathing room."
After two scoreless innings, the first run of the game crossed the plate in the top of the third as Duke put together back-to-back hits with two outs. Kremer started with a base hit down the left field line and would score on Betts' RBI double to give Duke a 1-0 advantage.
Marvel retired the N.C. Central (9-8, 3-3 MEAC) lineup in order over the first three frames, but the Eagles touched the Duke rookie for three runs in the fourth. Shortstop Zach Lee and first baseman Luis Diaz notched N.C. Central's first two hits of the game, putting men on the corners with one out. Third baseman Troy Marrow then executed a flawless squeeze play to score Lee from third before second baseman Dylan Drayton's two-RBI double down the right field line gave NCCU the lead, 3-1.
The Blue Devils responded in the top of the fifth, manufacturing a pair of runs to tie the score at three-all. Junior Angelo La Bruna reached on an error credited to the NCCU shortstop Lee and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Perez. A Kremer walk and Betts groundout brought Marconcini to the plate with runners on second and third and two out, and the Brentwood, Tenn., native delivered the game-tying, two-run single to right field.
Duke would advance a runner to second in both the sixth and the seventh but was unable to push one across in either frame. With the game still tied at 3-3, the Blue Devils' fortunes turned in the top of the eighth as two hit batters and walk would load the bases with two outs. Perez came to the plate and hit a grounder that was bobbled by NCCU pitcher Jacob Russell, enabling Perez to beat out the play and catcher Reed Anthes to score the go-ahead run from third.
A two-out, two-RBI single off the bat of McCabe extended Duke's lead to 6-3 heading into the final half inning. Marconcini singled with one out to start the rally and Matt Berezo reached on an error by N.C. Central third baseman Marrow. McCabe then picked up his first two RBI of the season with a clutch, two-out base hit to left, plating both Marconcini and Berezo.
Sophomore Andrew Istler came on to register his fourth save of the season, throwing two scoreless innings while striking out three.
N.C. Central starter Jordan Quinn allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings of work, but was not involved in the decision. Freshman Andrew Vernon (1-2) took the loss for the Eagles, giving up a run in the eighth.
Duke returns to action tomorrow, taking on Quinnipiac at 6 p.m., at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Blue Devils then welcome conference foe Virginia Tech for a three-game series Friday-Sunday also at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.