SURPRISE, Ariz. – Sophomore shortstop Zack Kone belted Duke’s first homer of the year but Gonzaga bested Duke for the second time in as many days with a 4-1 victory Saturday at Surprise Stadium.
In addition to his fourth-inning solo shot, Kone added a leadoff double in the second, his third of the young season.
Despite Kone’s solid showing at the plate, Duke (0-3) was unable to come up with key hits, going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Duke outhit Gonzaga 10-9, however, three of the Bulldogs’ went for RBI singles.
Gonzaga freshman left-handed hurler Mac Lardner (1-0) outdueled his Duke counterpart Adam Laskey (0-1) in both pitchers’ collegiate debuts. Lardner went six complete frames surrendering just the one run on eight hits with eight strikeouts. Laskey pitched 3.2 innings in the loss, allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits. Laskey struck out four and walked two.
“Ultimately we pitched pretty well,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We obviously have to do a better job with runners in scoring position. Somebody needs to come up with that key hit. That’s really the difference right now.”
Reminiscent of Friday’s opener, Gonzaga (2-1) put crooked numbers on the board in the first. Leadoff man Sam Brown reached via a Duke throwing error and Gonzaga received a pair of soft RBI singles to plate a pair. Laskey struck out the side to minimize the opening-inning damage.
“I thought Adam gave us a good start for his first time out,” Pollard said. “He had some bad luck in the first inning. There was the groundball play we make most of the time and then he had a perfect double play ball that tipped off his glove. He doesn’t tip that, Zack (Kone) fields it, steps on second throws to first and it’s a double play. To his credit, he continued to fight and compete and had two pretty good innings behind it.”
Gonzaga’s third run came on center fielder Tyler Frost’s two-out RBI single in the second.
Kone made it a one-run game in the fourth, but Duke was unable to plate another run despite having runners aboard in four of the game’s final five frames.
Gonzaga’s fourth run came in the fifth after the Bulldogs loaded the bases with no one out. Duke got out of the jam with just one run scoring after a double play and strikeout.
In addition to a 2-for-4 outing at the plate, junior Jack Labosky threw 3.0 scoreless innings in relief with three strikeouts and two hits allowed.
“I thought that Jack [Labosky] pitched exceptionally well coming out of the bullpen for his first outing of the year,” Pollard added.
Duke concludes the 2017 Sanderson Ford Spring Training College Classic at 9:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m.) Sunday against No. 7 Oregon State.