DURHAM, N.C. – Duke led early before an Alex Dickerson seventh-inning grand slam catapulted Army West Point to a 9-5 victory Saturday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Duke (2-5) outscored the Black Knights 5-1 through five, but Army (2-4) put up eight runs on eight hits - five for extra bases - in the sixth, seventh and eighth to effectively erase the advantage. The Black Knights belted four doubles and the grand slam in that span while Duke totaled three baserunners the final four innings.
“We got up 5-1 and let our foot off the gas pedal,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We got up early and kind of got complacent and sat on it. Then when [Army] jumped up, we got tight and our team has to be tougher than that.”
A Matt Hudgins second-inning solo home run opened the day’s scoring, giving Army the early lead for a second consecutive game.
Identical to the first game, Duke answered with crooked numbers in the third. Freshman Chris Dutra’s leadoff single began the three-run frame that saw a Griffin Conine RBI double, Jack Labosky RBI single and Justin Bellinger sacrifice fly.
Graduate student Jalen Phillips kicked off the fourth with a leadoff double, followed by a Max Miller base hit. Phillips came home on an Army throwing error and Kennie Taylor drove in Duke’s fifth run with an RBI single.
Duke’s offense stalled after Black Knight RHP Matt Ball (1-1) took the mound in the sixth. Ball allowed two hits and did not walk a batter over his four shutout innings, allowing Army to overcome the deficit.
“Give Ball credit,” Pollard added. “He threw the baseball well for them. Once he got that lead he really attacked the strike zone and didn’t give us a chance to string together a lot of at bats.”
Down 5-1, Army received three doubles in a two-run sixth. Jon Rosoff and John McCarthy belted back-to-back doubles to left center to start the inning prior to Kris Lindner’s two-out RBI double barely evading a diving Taylor’s outstretched glove.
The bulk of the damage then came in the seventh with Dickerson’s bases-clearing blast to left. Two walks and a single had loaded the bases in advance of the Army first baseman’s two-out heroics.
“It was 2-2,” Pollard said. “[Dickerson] had fouled off a fastball and we went change. Kind of a long sweeping swing and credit him. They scored six runs there in the seventh and eighth with two outs. We didn’t respond very well. He took a good swing in a bases loaded situation and popped one out of the yard.”
Army tacked on two insurance runs to start the eighth, notching three straight two-out hits.
Duke starter Adam Laskey pitched well in his second career start. Laskey went 5.2 innings in the no decision, yielding three runs on seven hits. The rookie struck out five and did not issue a walk.
“It was a terrific start, a start [Laskey] can really build off,” Pollard said. “Really attacked the strike zone. I loved the delivery. I thought it was aggressive. He really trusted his stuff. That’s a great growing moment for him as he grows into this weekend role.”
Sophomore Hunter Davis (0-1) suffered the loss after surrendering three runs on one hit in the seventh.
Duke and Army meet for the series finale at 1p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26 at the DBAP. Duke right-hander Ryan Day squares off against Black Knight lefty Daniel Gibbons on ACC Network Extra.