CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – After Griffin Conine and Michael Smiciklas homered in the first, Virginia capitalized on free offense in the bottom half to plate five en route to a 13-6 series-clinching victory Sunday afternoon at Davenport Field.
In series not lacking in offense, the finale’s first frame saw eight runs and ended with a 5-3 Cavalier advantage. Duke (13-13, 4-5 ACC) scored three in the top half courtesy of a two-run Conine bomb coupled with a Smiciklas solo shot. The lead evaporated quickly as the first five UVA batters reached via two walks, two HBPs and a base knock. Virginia (19-6, 4-5 ACC) utilized the free offense, sending five around while recording just two singles.
“We had a really good approach in the top of the first inning,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We put together four or five really good at bats. [We] had some momentum then came out and gave it away. We gave them a lot of free offense.”
Freshman Bill Chillari got Duke out of the first before graduate student James Ziemba took over to start the second and pitched 4.0 innings to keep the Blue Devils within striking distance. Ziemba yielded one run on two hits, striking out two without walking a batter.
“It was a great job by James,” Pollard said. “His best outing of the year to keep the ballgame in check to get to the sixth. We’re well within striking distance at that point, two runs down. Really veteran outing by James to keep us in the ballgame.”
Virginia’s sixth run came on Cameron Simmons two-out RBI single in the second. The Cavaliers added an insurance tally in the sixth after Nate Eikhoff doubled home Charlie Cody, who led off with a single.
Down three runs, Labosky led off the eighth with a double and ultimately scored on a wild pitch to pull the Blue Devils within two, 7-5.
But Duke could not maintain the close margin as Virginia opened up the game the bottom half, scoring six runs on six hits.
Duke added a ninth-inning score on Conine’s RBI single, but it was not enough to dent the large deficit.
“Our offensive approach was good,” Pollard added. “We were locked in. We didn’t expand the zone. We didn’t swing at bad pitches. We didn’t give at bats away late in the ballgame. Even when they had the big inning, we came back and had good at bats in the top of the ninth inning. You don’t make an error. You score six. You have 13 hits on the road that’s good enough to win, but we obviously have to pitch better.”
Despite the rocky start, left-hander Adam Haseley (4-1) picked up the win, permitting four runs on nine hits. Haseley scattered five hits after Duke’s big first inning. Chesdin Harrington threw a scoreless seventh before Tommy Doyle recorded the final six outs for his sixth save of the season.
Freshman Graeme Stinson (2-1) did not survive the opening inning in his first ACC start. Stinson allowed five runs on one hit and did not record an out.
Duke’s upcoming schedule pits the Blue Devils against the Wildcats and the Aggies in a pair of midweek games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Duke hosts Davidson Tuesday, March 28 prior to welcoming North Carolina A&T Wednesday, March 29. Both contests are set for 6 p.m., starts on ACC Network Extra.