DURHAM, N.C. – Jack Labosky launched a three-run homer in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings in relief to help No. 19 Duke capture a 6-3 series-clinching victory against Notre Dame Saturday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. With the win, Duke (23-5, 8-3 ACC) secured its fourth consecutive ACC series.
With the Blue Devils trailing by a run late in the game, Labosky blasted a seventh-inning shot to deep centerfield, then assumed the mound to start the eighth and pitched 2.0 shutout innings for his fifth save of the season.
“I said it a couple weeks ago, but if there’s a more complete guy in college baseball [I’d like to see him],” said head coach Chris Pollard. “To be able to drive a ball out of this ballpark today to dead centerfield in a huge spot with two outs, down a run … I mean there’s home runs, then there’s home runs. That’s a huge moment in the ballgame, then to come in and be as dominant on the mound.”
Labosky’s longball turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 advantage the Blue Devils did not relinquish the rest of the way. Jimmy Herron’s two-out RBI single in the eighth gave Duke an insurance run heading to the final frame.
That eighth-inning base hit was the final highlight on a solid day at the plate for Herron. The Duke leftfielder reached base in four of his five plate appearances with two hits and two walks. He scored two runs, knocked in an RBI and stole a base as well.
Starter Mitch Stallings scattered six hits over 5.2 innings in the no decision. The senior southpaw allowed two runs, struck out five and walked two. Ethan DeCaster (3-0) gave up one run on three hits over 1.1 innings in the win before Labosky finished out the contest.
“Mitch pitched great,” Pollard said. “Ethan [DeCaster] and Jack [Labosky] came in and did their jobs behind him. Really well played ballgame.”
Following two scoreless innings, Herron and Chris Proctor both reached and scored in the bottom of the third. Herron drew the first of his two walks prior to Proctor’s base knock. A Zack Kone RBI base hit fell in between the Irish defense in right field before Proctor came around to score on a double play.
Notre Dame (11-15, 4-7 ACC) struck for a run in the fourth on Matt Vierling’s RBI single before jumping ahead on Eric Gilgenbach’s two-run blast in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, Michael Smiciklas was hit by a pitch and Herron singled to lead off the inning. After a sacrifice bunt and a pop out, Labosky did not allow Notre Dame to escape the jam, sending reliever Anthony Holubecki’s 3-1 pitch onto the centerfield hill.
“We showed some really good adjustments as the game went on,” Pollard added. “I’d like to see us make that adjustment a little sooner, but we got better as the game went. That’s been a pattern for us this year.”
Notre Dame’s Tommy Sheehan suffered the loss, allowing four runs, three earned, on four hits and three walks. He did not strike out a batter in six complete innings.
The Blue Devils and the Fighting Irish wrap up the series at 12 p.m., Sunday, April 1 on ACC Network Extra. Duke’s Ryan Day gets the start against Notre Dame’s Cameron Junker.