DURHAM, N.C. – Duke scored two runs in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie and kept the Hurricanes off the board down the stretch to defeat Miami, 4-3, in the series opener Friday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Despite three Duke (15-3, 3-1 ACC) errors over the first three innings, sophomore Adam Laskey (4-1) picked up his fourth victory in as many outings before giving way to the bullpen. Laskey scattered six hits over six innings, allowing three runs, two earned. The left-hander struck out six and did not walk a batter.
“First and foremost, credit goes to Adam Laskey for pitching through those mistakes,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I’m not sure a year ago this time, Adam would’ve been able to do that. Then we had the ball that we misplayed to start the fourth inning that led to a run as well. But he kept pitching. Kept competing. Stayed in the moment. Stayed in the fight. Got us to the seventh inning. I thought Adam was great. Didn’t walk a guy. [Gave up six] hits.”
After committing errors earlier in the game, Griffin Conine and Zack Kone both made terrific defensive plays the final two innings. With a runner at second and two outs in the eighth, Conine ranged to his left to snare a line drive down the line to end the inning. A one-out baserunner in the ninth gave Miami a chance before Kone ended the game with a 6-3 double play.
Two guys that made mistakes early wound up making two defensive plays to win us the game,” Pollard said. “I thought the play that Griffin Conine made in the right field corner was one of the best defensive plays that we’ve had this year. There are very few right fielders in college baseball that make that play. That was a huge moment and obviously Zack [Kone] makes a great play to end the ballgame.”
Kone also finished the day with two hits, scoring the go-ahead run in the sixth, while Conine reached base in three of his four plate appearances.
The Blue Devils struck first with a run in the opening frame. Jimmy Herron lined a leadoff double and stole third before crossing home on Conine’s RBI base knock.
Duke committed three errors over first three innings to allow Miami a 2-1 lead. Willy Escala started the second with a single before two Blue Devil miscues plated the Hurricanes’ first run. Hunter Tackett tripled and scored in the third to put Miami up.
The game remained a 2-2 stalemate until the sixth. Kone lifted a double that fell in between the Hurricane defense, then Conine was hit by a pitch to reach base for the third time. Loperfido blasted his fifth double of the season into right center to give Duke the lead and Rothenberg picked up his second RBI with a fielder’s choice to extend the lead.
Miami trimmed the advantage to a lone run on Dylan Cloonan’s pinch-hit RBI single before a strikeout with runners at the corners in the seventh ended the threat. The Hurricanes put a runner aboard in both the eighth and ninth but Duke’s defense held.
The Blue Devils and the Hurricanes resume the series at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 17 at the DBAP. Duke’s Mitch Stallings (1-1, 3.66 ERA) takes the mound opposite Miami’s Evan McKendry (3-1, 2.11 ERA) on ACC Network Extra.