DURHAM, N.C. – Three Southern California pitchers combined to shut out Duke, leading the Trojans to a 2-0 victory over the Blue Devils Monday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
USC right-hander Mason Perryman (2-0) turned in six scoreless frames, followed by a three combined shutout innings from Solomon Bates and Austin Manning. Duke (3-6) totaled six hits in the contest, recording 14 fly ball outs while failing to score in a game for the first time this season.
“Ultimately we’ve got to address things offensively,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We have to be willing to make adjustments. Once we do that, we’ll start getting better results.”
Six Duke pitchers combined to allow two runs - just one earned - while striking out 14 Trojan batters, including a career-best five strikeouts in two innings for junior Luke Whitten. USC (6-2) got the leadoff hitter aboard seven times, but the Blue Devils kept the Trojans to a 1-for-14 performance with runners in scoring position, stranding 13 runners.
“I liked the way we stayed in the moment with runners in scoring position,” Pollard said. “Obviously we can’t put the leadoff hitter on in seven out of nine innings via free passes. You cannot consistently do that and expect to get the type of results we got tonight. At the same time, I thought guys beared down in those moments and did not shy away in those moments. We’ve got to show that type of fight on offense.”
A Corey Dempster third-inning solo home run accounted for the only score of the first six innings. Dempster sent freshman Bill Chillari’s 3-2 offering over the Blue Monster in left for his second homer of the season, breaking a scoreless tie. Chillari (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing the one run in 1.1 innings, striking out two and walking one.
The Trojans put the leadoff hitter aboard each of the next six innings but were unable to break through until plating an unearned seventh-inning run. USC went 2-for-14 during that span with six strikeouts and two doubles plays with a runner on board.
USC finally scratched across an unearned run to start the seventh. Left fielder Matthew Acosta drew the leadoff walk and Dempster followed with a base hit. A failed pickoff attempt allowed Acosta to take third. With two outs, Acosta attempted to steal home. Duke timed the play well, but dropped the ball before applying the tag to allow the game’s second and final run.
Duke received a leadoff hit in both the eighth and ninth frames, but Manning kept the Blue Devils in check both innings.
Junior Justin Bellinger went 3-for-4 and sophomore Jimmy Herron posted a 2-for-4 outing to account for five of Duke’s six hits. Sophomore Griffin Conine registered an eighth-inning single for the Blue Devils’ final base knock.
After four games in four days, Duke has three days off before hosting Princeton in a four-game series Friday-Sunday, March 3-5.