DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team took No. 1 Virginia to the wire in Sunday’s series finale at Jack Coombs Field, but came up just short in a 2-1 setback to the top-ranked Cavaliers. Virginia (11-3, 2-1 ACC) plated its only runs of the game in the second and held Duke (8-7, 1-2 ACC) off down the stretch in the Blue Devils’ sixth one-run loss of the season.
Neither team could find its rhythm at the plate as the Blue Devils totaled six hits to Cavaliers’ five. Virginia scored both its runs in the second inning off Duke sophomore James Marvel (2-2), who turned in his third consecutive quality start in the loss. Marvel surrendered just one earned run over seven complete innings, striking out four while walking three batters.
UVa’s Brandon Waddell (3-1) picked up the win, totaling seven strikeouts over six innings of work. Waddell gave up one run on three hits and walked three. The Cavaliers’ bullpen closed out the win as Whit Mayberry, David Rosenberger and Nick Howard combined to toss three scoreless frames.
“I’m very proud of our pitching staff and the way we played defense,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I’m very proud of Marvel; I thought it was a tremendous effort. Conner Stevens came in and was very effective out of the pen. Couldn’t ask for anything more out of our pitching and our defense, but there are no moral victories. You have to play to win ballgames.”
Right fielder Joe McCarthy doubled to start the second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Howard walked to put runners at the corners. A Nate Irving sacrifice fly to left allowed McCarthy to cross home and a Duke throwing error sent Howard around the bases for the unearned run. Marvel then ended the threat with a strikeout and fly ball to right field.
Duke tallied its lone run of the game in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to 2-1. Senior Mark Lumpa legged out an infield single and scored from first on a Jordan Betts RBI base knock two batters later.
The Blue Devils threatened again in the seventh after Matt Berezo beat out a bunt single and Kenny Koplove drove a pitch through the right side to put two men on with no outs. Mayberry escaped unscathed as a strikeout and pickoff nullified the Duke rally.
“We have to continue to work at our craft offensively,” Pollard added. “That doesn’t take anything away from UVa; they’ve got great arms. Give them credit, but we know in our gut that we’re better than this. We feel like we pitched well enough to win two-out-of-three in the series. We’ve got to learn from this and get right back to work.”
Sunday’s game was the fourth in an 11-game homestand for the Blue Devils. Duke returns to Jack Coombs Field Tuesday and Wednesday versus Quinnipiac and Furman, respectively, before hosting Notre Dame Friday, Saturday and Sunday.