DURHAM, N.C. – No. 21 Duke won its sixth straight midweek game, topping Maryland Eastern Shore, 9-5, Wednesday evening at Jack Coombs Field.
Duke (18-4, 4-2 ACC) put seven runs on the board before MDES (2-18) posted a base hit. The Hawks narrowed the margin over the latter innings before a Kennie Taylor home run coupled with strong relief efforts from Matt Dockman and Matt Mervis ended the threat.
Taylor paced the Blue Devils at the plate, adding a sixth-inning single to go along with his eighth-inning two-run homer. Chris Proctor also had a two-hit outing, driving in two RBI and scoring a run.
In a planned split, left-hander Bill Chillari (3-0) retired all nine batters he faced to start the ballgame. Chillari fanned four over his three shutout frames, including the final two batters he faced.
“We had some really good moments on the bump tonight,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I thought Bill Chillari gave us a great start. I was really impressed with Matt Mervis’ inning. Excited to see Hunter Davis come in and give us a good, clean inning.”
Chillari’s effort on the mound allowed Duke to take a commanding early lead. Jimmy Herron walked to start the first and scored the Blue Devils’ first run a batter later on Zack Kone’s sacrifice fly. Duke plated four runs in the second, thanks to two singles, two walks and two Hawks’ errors.
Thomas Girard and Hunter Davis gave Duke a scoreless inning each, while the Blue Devils continued to extend the lead. Kone’s base hit led off the fifth and the Duke shortstop scored on Griffin Conine’s RBI triple to the right center gap. A Miller sac fly plated Conine to make it 7-0 in the Blue Devils’ favor.
After recording just two baserunners heading into the sixth, MDES would score five runs the next two innings on five hits coupled with four walks.
With the Duke lead trimmed to 7-5, Taylor ran the first pitch he saw in the eighth over the left field wall for his first home run of the season, scoring Miller who was hit by a pitch to start the frame.
“Really excited by the at bats by Kennie Taylor tonight,” Pollard added. “The home run swing happened because of the really good at bats he had earlier in the game. He had very much a middle line drive approach. When you do that and you’re letting the baseball travel, when you get your pitch, you get your best swing off like he did there. That was a big two-run home run because that game’s right there in reach.”
The four-run cushion was more than ample for Mervis in the ninth. The sophomore right-hander retired the Hawks 1-2-3 to close out Duke’s 15th home victory of the season.
Duke travels to Pennsylvania for its first ACC road series of the season, facing Pitt in a three-game set Friday-Sunday, March 23-25 at Charles L. Cost Field.