DURHAM, N.C. – A three-run fifth inning highlighted by a two-run triple from freshman Ethan Murray sparked a rally as the Duke baseball team came from behind to defeat Lehigh 4-3 on Sunday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to complete the sweep on opening weekend.
With the Blue Devils down 3-1 entering the fifth, Murray drove in a pair to tie the contest and sophomore Joey Loperfido plated Murray with the deciding run on a single through the left side of the drawn-in infield. The Mountain Hawks had a runner on base in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth, but left him stranded each time.
Duke is 3-0 for the first time since beginning the 2008 campaign with a 10-0 record.
“I thought that both teams showed a lot of toughness in light of the circumstances,” head coach Chris Pollard said. “These were tough conditions to play in along with the early start this morning. We had to play through the rain and wait out the rain delay to come back. I thought both teams competed really well today.”
Freshman Cooper Stinson made his first career start for the Blue Devils, lasting 3.2 innings and surrendering three earned runs on four hits and three walks, while collecting seven strikeouts. Sophomore Matt Dockman (1-0) earned his first career win, going a career-high 3.1 frames, allowing just two hits and a walk to go along with four strikeouts. Junior Eli Herrick made his Duke debut and got the final six outs for the save, working around a pair of hits and striking out four. Overall, the Duke pitching staff registered 49 strikeouts and allowed just four runs during the three-game sweep of the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh threatened in the first and second innings with a single and walk in each frame, but Stinson bounced back and kept the visitors off the scoreboard both times.
After a foul out and a strikeout looking ended the top of the second, the Blue Devils got on the board in the bottom half with a manufactured run for a 1-0 lead. Graduate student Kyle Gallagher led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, went to third on a groundout and scored on a groundout to shortstop from junior Erikson Nichols.
Lehigh responded in the top of the third with three runs to go up 3-1. Gerard Sweeney drew a one-out walk and worked his way around the bases with a stolen base, wild pitch and passed ball that brought him home to knot the score at 1-1. Jeff Shanfeldt kept the inning alive by reaching on a wild pitch following a strikeout, advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Casey Rother single through the left side. Ryan Malloy gave the Mountain Hawks their third run with a triple to center that plated Rother before a fly out to center ended the frame.
Following two quiet frames, the Duke offense came to life in the bottom of the fifth with the game’s final three runs. Nichols led off and was hit by a pitch. Sophomore Chase Cheek followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt from freshman Matt Stinebiser moved both runners into scoring position and the pair came home on Murray’s triple to right field. Murray then scored on Loperfido’s single. Lehigh halted the damage with an outfield assist that got Loperfido out and a fly out to ended the fifth.
Lehigh registered a single in both the sixth and seventh, but the runners did not move past first base. After an 81-minute rain delay held the start of the eighth inning, the Mountain Hawks got a runner to second, but could not score him. Rother led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Cole Humes. A sacrifice bunt advanced Humes to second, but Herrick induced a fly out and strikeout to end the threat.
Herrick began the ninth with a strikeout before allowing a double to Mike Maguire. Again Herrick rebounded, this time with a pair of strikeouts to close the game.
Lehigh’s Matt Svanson took the loss, tossing 4.1 innings and giving up four runs on three hits, two walks and a strikeout. Peter Woltersdorf went the final 3.2 frames, allowing two hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
Duke returns to the field Tuesday for a 6 p.m. contest at Davidson.
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