WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Chris Proctor broke a tie game with a three-run double, Ethan DeCaster gave the Blue Devils three scoreless innings in relief and Jack Labosky earned his sixth save of the season in Duke’s 7-4 victory over Wake Forest Sunday afternoon at David F. Couch Ballpark.
Tied 4-4 in the sixth, Duke (27-6, 10-4 ACC) loaded the bases before Proctor drove an 0-1 fastball to straightaway center for a bases-clearing double. Wake Forest (13-19, 6-8 ACC) could muster just two baserunners against DeCaster and Labosky who combined for four shutout frames the rest of the way.
Labosky entered the game in a four-way tie for first in career saves at Duke and retired all three Wake Forest batters he faced to claim the program record (14) outright.
“It was four outstanding innings of relief without question,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Really thought we threw the ball well. Ethan gave us a shot in the arm and really helped us capture momentum. Jack came in and was really efficient there.”
Duke wasted little time taking a lead as the Blue Devils put at least one run on the board in each of the first three innings. Duke grabbed the 1-0 lead on Zack Kone’s RBI double in the top of the first, then scored again on Jimmy Herron’s sacrifice fly in the second. After Joey Loperfido reached via a two-out fielding error in the third, Griffin Conine launched his team-leading seventh homer of the season.
Wake Forest’s first three runs came courtesy of a two home runs. Johnny Aiello belted a solo first-inning homer and Shane Muntz lobbed a two-run longball in the fourth.
Wake Forest loaded the bases with nobody out following the Muntz homer, but starter Mitch Stallings (3-2) worked out of the jam without further damage.
Stallings went five innings in the win, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out seven.
“That fourth inning really epitomizes why [Stallings has] played such an important role in our program over the four years he’s been here,” Pollard said. “He is a superior competitor. He never backed down from that moment. Ultimately his ability to stay in the moment and keep executing pitches is why we were able to win the ballgame.”
Two walks, a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch knotted the score, but the Blue Devils had an immediate answer to regain the lead. Kennie Taylor singled, Michael Smiciklas doubles and Herron was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Proctor then took care of the rest with his fourth double of the season.
DeCaster retired the first eight batters he faced, then struck out his fifth following a pair of two-out singles in the eighth. Labosky then got a line drive to first, grounder to short and foul popup to end the game.
Duke and Wake Forest wrap up the series at 7 p.m., Monday, April 9 on ESPNU.