DURHAM, N.C. – Sophomore Adam Laskey pitched his second consecutive quality start and senior Jack Labosky homered to lead Duke past Cornell, 8-3, in the series opener Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Blue Devils’ sixth straight win moved Duke to 7-2 on the year while the Big Red dropped to 0-4.
Laskey (2-1) gave Duke six complete innings to earn his second win in as many starts. He allowed two runs on five hits, striking out four.
“Laskey had to battle some adversity,” Pollard said. “Tough day to pitch, but he pitched his way through it.”
Labosky launched his first home run of the season in the second, a towering two-run longball to the right field corner. He added a sixth-inning single, finishing the day 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI.
“When Jack drives the ball to the opposite field like he did today, that means his swing’s in a really good place,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “That’s a really good sign.”
Labosky was not the only Blue Devil to record multiple hits on the day as freshman Michael Rothenberg and junior Zack Kone had two hits each. Rothenberg went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI while Kone was 2-for-5 with a triple and a pair of RBI.
Junior Jimmy Herron reached base in three of his five plate appearances, adding a single and two walks. Duke’s left fielder led off the first with a base hit and scored the game’s opening run after stealing second, advancing to third on a passed ball and scoring on Rothenberg’s RBI groundout.
“I thought Jimmy Herron had great at bats,” Pollard said. “He comes up, hits a ball right on the nose in the first. Had two loud outs. Drove a ball to center field that if it’s a different day windwise probably is a double. Drives a ball to right field, too. Then comes up after that and has two really good at bats, especially the at bat in the eighth to get to first to give Kone a chance to drive him in.”
Labosky’s second-inning home run then made it a 3-0 Duke lead.
Cornell got a run back on Ramon Garza’s RBI single in the fifth before Duke registered five hits in a four-run sixth. Rothenberg started the frame with a double, while Kennie Taylor, Labosky, Max Miller and Kone added base hits to put Duke ahead, 7-1.
The Big Red scored two runs in the seventh without the benefit of a hit. Duke’s pitching staff issued five walks before reliever Ethan DeCaster took the mound to strike out Kyle Gallagher with the bases loaded.
DeCaster would retire all seven batters he faced, striking out three, to pick up his second save of the season.
“[Ethan’s] numbers speak for themselves,” Pollard added. “He pitched great again today. Was in complete control of the ballgame. He did a good job of getting us off the field in the seventh. Then he was lights out behind it for a couple innings. It was impressive.”
Duke added its final run to end the eighth receiving an RBI triple from Kone to plate Herron who had drawn a two-out walk.
The Blue Devils and the Big Red continue their series Saturday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m. Duke right-hander Ryan Day takes the mound opposite Cornell left Tyler Fernandez on ACC Network Extra.