LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sophomore Griffin Conine lifted his 12th home run of the season, junior Mitch Stallings tossed his fifth quality start of the year and junior Jack Labosky recorded a six-out save to lead Duke past No. 2 Louisville, 5-3, Friday evening at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Stallings (4-3) threw seven complete for his fifth straight start of seven or more innings in the victory. Stallings yielded three runs on four hits, struck out two and exited the game with a two-run lead heading to the eighth.
“The fun part to me was watching a true competitor embrace the moment,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “He’s going head to head against the best player in college baseball and he really relished it and didn’t back away from it. He’ll tell you he didn’t have his best performance, but he kept making pitches.”
Duke (21-19, 8-11 ACC) totaled nine hits, six off Cardinal starter Brendan McKay (5-3). Conine finished the day 2-for-3 with a two-run homer, a fourth-inning double, two RBI and two walks. Classmate Jimmy Herron was 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a walk as well.
McKay struck out seven over six innings, but allowed a career-high five runs in the loss. Duke tagged McKay for three extra base hits and three walks.
The key was we had McKay up around 50 pitches after two innings,” Pollard said. “We had such great at bats. We really extended at bats all day long, forced their pitchers into a lot of deep counts. We didn’t miss fastballs. I thought it was as locked in a performance as we’ve had all year.
Duke took advantage of two wild pitches in the first to come away with a 1-0 lead. Herron lined a 3-1 pitch into left field for the game’s first hit. Two McKay pitches evaded catcher Colby Fitch, allowing Herron to advance to third. After a Jack Labosky walk, Herron crossed home on a double steal for the game’s opening tally.
The Blue Devils received a pair of run-producing two-out hits in the second to go on top, 3-0. After a Max Miller walk, Proctor slid an RBI triple inside the right field line. Herron then drove his second single through the left side.
Louisville’s first hit of the game came in fourth as Drew Ellis lined a two-run homer, his eighth of the season, over the left field wall. The long ball trimmed Duke’s lead, 3-2.
Conine and the Blue Devils had an answer the following frame. Herron drew a one-out walk and Conine launched his 12th long ball of the season to establish a 5-2 margin.
Ellis’s second homer – a solo shot to left in the bottom of the sixth – cut the lead, 5-3.
Labosky took over on the mound to start the eighth and recorded the six-out save, permitting a alone infield single in the ninth.
“He pitched great,” Pollard said. “Really attacking, getting a lot of sink. Had the changeup working and had the big strikeout of Ellis who had a day against us.”
Duke and Louisville were set for a Friday doubleheader before rained moved into the area. The two teams now meet again tentatively at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 21.