DURHAM, N.C. – Duke led 5-1 after two before Boston College outscored the Blue Devils 10-1 the final seven innings to clinch the series with a 15-6 decision Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Duke (18-19, 6-11 ACC) yielded season highs in both runs (15) and hits (20) to Boston College (12-20, 3-14 ACC) after the Eagles turned in a five-run fourth and a nine-run sixth.
Four Eagle batters accrued three or more hits, led by Jake Alu’s 4-for-6 performance and Brian Dempsey’s 4-for-5 outing. Donovan Casey and Jacob Yish also added three hits apiece.
Starter James Ziemba pitched well in the no decision, exiting the game with a 5-1 lead, a runner on first and two outs in the fourth. Freshman Matt Mervis, senior Kevin Lewallyn and graduate student Thomas Crispi gave Duke a scoreless inning of relief each, but the two big innings did the damage.
“If you go back and look at our pitching woes, it’s the story of the season,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “It’s giving up the big inning. It’s the inability to get off the field with two outs and two strikes.That was the difference [today]. We had plenty of well-pitched innings. I thought James [Ziemba] did exactly what we asked him to do. We told him to treat this like a relief appearance, not like a start, and give us the best 60-70 pitches he had. Kevin Lewallyn and Thomas Crispi did a great job of giving us zeroes. Matt Mervis sandwiched a zero between the big innings.”
The Blue Devils scored five runs the first two innings for an early advantage. Sophomore Griffin Conine sent his 11th homer of the season over the right field wall for a 3-0 lead in the first. Duke scored two more the following frame to make it a 5-1 ballgame at the conclusion of two.
Ziemba exited the game with a runner on first and two outs in the fourth. Junior Chris McGrath yielded a single, back-to-back walks and a Gian Martellini grand slam before the inning came to a close with a 6-5 Boston College margin.
Five of Duke’s eight hits came over the first two innings as the offense was unable to score from the third to the eighth, allowing Boston College to grow the margin.
“We didn’t string enough together after the two good innings early,” Pollard added. “We had the chance in the fifth with the tying and go-ahead runs out there to put pressure on them and we didn’t do that.”
Freshman Matt Mervis tossed a scoreless fifth before Boston College put the game out of reach with a nine-run sixth. Facing three different Duke pitchers, nine consecutive Eagle batters reached base with one out, bolstered by back-to-back two-run doubles from Johnny Adams and Yish.
The two teams meet in the series finale at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 16 at Jack Coombs Field. Right-hander Ryan Day takes the mound for Duke against righty Brian Rapp on ACC Network Extra.