NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After Notre Dame claimed a 5-4 victory in game one, Duke responded with a resounding 14-1 victory in the second to split the Friday afternoon doubleheader at Frack Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth to edge Duke 5-4 in the series opener.
The Blue Devils dodged catastrophe in the first after a dropped pop up and three straight seeing-eye singles gave Notre Dame an early edge. The Irish had two runs home and the bases loaded with nobody out before Mitch Stallings fanned the next two batters and induced an inning-ending flare to second.
Stallings threw 38 pitches in the first but covered the next five in 68 to record his six consecutive quality start. The Atlanta native allowed four runs – three earned – on six hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out seven in the no decision.
“Mitch was victimized by some bad luck,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We gave them a run early and we gave them a run late in that ballgame. Mitch pitched great. Ton of poise to get off the field in the first and then give us five good innings behind that. He competed great. Two unearned runs proved to be the difference in the ballgame.”
Stallings worked a 1-2-3 second and Duke was able to knot the score the following frame. With two outs and the bases loaded, junior Michael Smiciklas roped a two-run single to right center.
Notre Dame regained the lead in the bottom half. Mike Vierling lined a solo shot, his seventh homer of the year, into the shrubbery behind the left field wall.
Following the home run, Stallings retired eight straight batters and Duke took its first lead to start the fifth. Smiciklas again delivered the clutch two-out RBI single and Kennie Taylor followed suit with an RBI double inside the left field line.
Vierling's third hit of the game was a leadoff sixth-inning double. A walk and a single loaded the bases with nobody out, but Stallings did well to limit the damage to a lone run. Stallings induced a 4-6-3 double play and fanned Connor Power to get the Blue Devils off the field.
Left-hander James Ziemba (2-4) pitched a shutout seventh before encountering eighth-inning trouble. A walk and an error put two aboard before the Irish received back-to-back pinch hit singles with two outs to plate the go ahead run.
Junior Peter Solomon (3-3) pitched four shutout innings in relief to earn the win.
Duke blasted three home runs in the night cap to rebound to claim the 14-1 victory. Notre Dame scored first but the Blue Devils plated 14 unanswered, including a 10-run eighth.
Two solo home runs, one for each squad, accounted for all the scoring the first five frames with a one-all deadlock the result . Notre Dame's Jake Shepski lifted a long ball in the third before sophomore Kennie Taylor sent his second of the season the opposite way in the fifth.
Duke then claimed the lead to start the sixth. Kone extended his hit streak to nine games with a one-out single. The Blue Devil shortstop stole second and scampered home on a Jack Labosky triple that curled away from right fielder Shepski. Duke's two-out success continued as Smiciklas smacked his third home run of the year over the right field wall.
“Michael Smiciklas came up with big two-out hits all day long,” Pollard said. “We did a really good job with two outs all day. I was really pleased we were able to pull away and didn't get complacent.”
Freshman Adam Laskey successfully navigated 5.1 innings before three-straight one-out singles in the sixth ended his outing. Laskey allowed one run on seven hits for the day, walking two and fanning four.
“Really, really proud of Adam Laskey,” Pollard added. “He's been out of the rotation the past couple weeks. To step in when we had to have this ballgame and give us that quality a start. He really competed great. Very proud of him.”
Graduate student Nick Hendrix entered with the bases loaded for the second time in as many games and once again guided Duke out of the jam. Hendrix retired all eight batters he faced, allowing Duke to put the game out of reach.
“Nick Hendrix had a tremendous outing,” Pollard said. “Came in and got us off the field in another bases loaded situation when they looked like they're starting to get some momentum. Then put up two zeroes behind it.”
Zack Kone led off the eighth with a solo home run to right, extending the lead 5-1. The Kone shot started a streak of six straight Blue Devils to reach base in what turned into a 10-run inning. Chris Proctor, Labosky and Smiciklas all recorded two RBI in the frame that ended with a 14-1 Duke advantage.
Duke and Notre Dame are scheduled to complete the series at 1:05 p.m., Saturday, April 29 on ACC Network Extra.