DURHAM, N.C. – Duke defeated Bucknell, 13-5, Sunday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to complete the Blue Devils’ weekend sweep. The Blue Devils trailed early before shortstop Zack Kone’s three-run home run and first baseman Joey Loperfido’s bases-clearing triple helped Duke (5-2) earn its fourth straight win.
Kone registered his second consecutive three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with three RBI, two singles and his second home run in as many games. With Duke down 2-1 in the third, Kone blasted Bucknell starter Jack Simpson’s first-pitch fastball offering over the left field wall. For the weekend, Kone went 7-for-11, slugging 1.273 with two home runs, a double, eight RBI and four runs scored.
Loperfido broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth, ripping a bases-loaded triple to the right center gap. When the relay throw to third eluded Bucknell’s Dominic Toso, Loperfido scampered home to make it an 8-2 Duke lead. The triple was one of Loperfido’s three hits on the afternoon. He added two singles and a walk while also accumulating five RBI.
"I’m just trying to be aggressive at the plate," said Loperfido. "Coach [Jason] Stein talks about being on time with the fastball. I’m just trying to get into good counts and do damage with my swing."
As a team, Duke totaled 10 hits and drew seven walks. Designated hitter Michael Smiciklas added two hits and two RBI, while freshman Michael Rothenberg launched his second homer of the season, a solo shot in the sixth.
"We showed some additional positive signs offensively,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I think we’ve gotten a little bit better each ballgame. We did a better job of taking advantage of free offense. Excited to see Zack Kone continue to swing a hot stick. Joey Loperfido had great at bats. Really pleased with our bullpen. We had three guys down there getting there first opportunity of the year and those guys came in ready to pitch.”
On the mound, starter Mitch Stallings allowed four runs on five hits over 4.1 innings in the no decision. Junior Hunter Davis (1-0) recorded the final two outs of the fifth to pick up the win. In total, Duke used six pitchers with freshmen Bryce Jarvis and Thomas Girard making their collegiate debuts.
Bucknell’s Simpson (0-2) suffered the loss. The 6-8 right-hander permitted seven runs on four hits during his 3.1 inning outing, walking two and striking out five.
A visit to North Carolina Central’s home field, the Durham Athletic Park, is the only road contest in 17 games for the Blue Devils. Duke faces NCCU Tuesday, Feb. 27 before welcoming Cornell to the DBAP Friday, March 2 for the first of 12-straight home games.