BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Sophomore Griffin Conine blasted a pair of two-run home runs to help Duke overcome a five-run deficit against Campbell Wednesday evening at Jim Perry Stadium. Conine ran a 2-1 pitch out of the yard in the fifth and gave Duke the lead with his 10th homer of the season in the eighth as the Blue Devils went on to secure the 12-10 victory.
“Griffin continues to have unbelievable at bats,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “The ball just comes off his bat differently. He’s really locked in.”
Conine topped five RBI for the third time this season, bringing his season total to 42. In addition, Conine is now the first Blue Devil to total double-digit homers in a season since Jake Lemmerman blasted 11 in 2010.
Conine’s home runs were two of 12 Duke hits in the contest. Shortstop Zack Kone went 2-for-4 with three runs and two RBI, designated hitter Michael Smiciklas added two hits, a run and an RBI, and catcher Chris Proctor was 2-for-5 with a run scored.
“ I’m really pleased with our offense,” Pollard said. “We got production out of a lot of different spots in our lineup. Smiciklas gave us great at bats. Proctor gave us good at bats out of the nine hole. I think we did a lot of things well offensively.”
Campbell amassed 15 hits to trump Duke’s total, however, only four came in the final four frames. Center fielder Matthew Barefoot compiled four hits and scored four runs, while Zach Minnick was 3-for-5 with four RBI. Cole Hallum also had a big game, driving in four RBI.
The Camels plated nine runs over the first four frames before veteran left-handers James Ziemba and Luke Whitten (1-0) slowed the Campbell offense. Ziemba allowed just one run on two hits, while Whitten threw back-to-back scoreless innings.
Junior Jack Labosky garnered his fourth save of the season, allowing a lone infield single.
“It was great to get that type of effort out of Whitten, Ziemba and Jack after Campbell swung the bats so well the first four innings,” Pollard added. “I’m really proud of Luke Whitten for the job he did.”
Duke’s offense picked up where it left off Monday night and the Blue Devils plated a pair on three first inning singles. Jimmy Herron led things off before Kone was struck by the first pitch of his at bat. Conine and Smiciklas both drove RBI base knocks to right field that gave Duke a lead, 2-0.
The lead did not survive the bottom half as Campbell responded with four runs on four hits. Five straight Camels reached base against freshman Graeme Stinson with Hallum, Minnick and Kevin Barron recording back-to-back-to-back RBI base hits.
The back-and-forth action continued the next inning. A Kone two-out RBI single up the middle cut into the lead but Campbell countered with Hallum two-run double in the bottom half.
The Blue Devils got another run back to start the fourth, and again Campbell put crooked number on the board with a three-run bottom half.
Down 9-4, Duke plated five fifth-inning runs to reach a 9-9 stalemate. Conine’s first two-run blast was part of the rally which also saw a Kennie Taylor RBI triple.
Campbell took a 10-9 margin on Minnick’s RBI single in the sixth. That lead stood until Conine’s second round-tripper easily surpassed the wall in right center with two outs in the eighth.
“We did a really good job of staying in the fight, staying in the moment,” Pollard said. “Down 9-4 early. No panic. We had the big answer to tie the ballgame. They had an answer with two outs. We kept grinding. I really like the toughness our team has displayed the past two ballgames.”
Duke then tacked on a ninth-inning insurance tally and Labosky took care of the rest in the bottom half.
The Blue Devils return to ACC action Friday-Sunday against Boston College at Jack Coombs Field.