DURHAM, N.C. – No. 9 Duke suffered its first midweek loss of the season, dropping a 9-2 decision to No. 12 East Carolina Tuesday evening at Jack Coombs Field.
Duke (30-8) struck for a run in the first but was unable to keep pace with the Pirates’ 15 hits. East Carolina (27-9) scored five over the middle innings then plated four in the ninth.
Junior Jimmy Herron was hit by a pitch and later scored on a Zack Kone sac fly in the bottom of the first to give Duke the early 1-0 advantage. Despite putting the leadoff man aboard three times from the fourth to the sixth, the Blue Devils could not push a run across again until the seventh.
“We had good at bats there in the first,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Jimmy [Herron] gives us a great leadoff at bat. [Chris] Proctor comes up and has a two-strike hit. Jack [Labosky] hits a ball hard later in the inning. Later in [ECU starter Jake] Agnos’ outing, we got guys on. We did a good job of getting the leadoff man on the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. We just didn’t string anything together behind it.”
While Duke struggled to string offense together, East Carolina heated up at the plate. After totaling one hit over the first three frames, the Pirates scored five runs on seven hits over from the fourth to the sixth to stake a four-run lead. A pair of uncharacteristic Blue Devil errors aided the ECU cause.
“When you come in the game fielding .981, you’re playing really good defense,” Pollard said. “At some point, you’re going to make an error or two. We didn’t communicate on a ball that fell in the outfield. That should be an out. We made the right call on a bunt play, but we just didn’t make the throw.”
Sophomore Bill Chillari (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing two runs on five hits over four innings. His counterpart Jake Agnos (4-2) tossed five complete in the win, yielding one run on three hits.
“I thought [Chillari] threw the ball really well,” Pollard added. “He executed his offspeed early in the count which got them off balance. Didn’t allow them to get timed up on anything. There in the fourth, if we catch the ball to start the inning, that inning probably plays out very differently.”
The Blue Devils return to action at Jack Coombs Field this weekend, welcoming No. 4 NC State Friday-Sunday, April 20-22.