DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team pushed through rain and Northwestern to earn a Saturday doubleheader sweep, taking the first game 5-4 in 10 innings and the second 23-8 at Jack Coombs Field.
The Blue Devils remain unbeaten at 6-0 and Northwestern falls to 2-4 on the season. Duke’s 6-0 start is the best for the program through six games since beginning the 2008 campaign with a 10-0 record.
In game one, freshman Rudy Maxwell hit a walk-off double to right field in the bottom of the 10th that drove in junior Erikson Nichols for the win. The second contest had the Blue Devils power back from an early 5-0 deficit with 12 runs in the bottom of the third inning and tack on 11 more in the seventh.
The Blue Devils complete the three-game series Sunday with 1 p.m. first pitch at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Freshman Cooper Stinson will take the mound for Duke with Quinn Lavelle getting the ball for the Wildcats.
“I wanted to let the guys know how proud I was that we handled a difficult set of circumstances really well today and showed a lot of toughness,” head coach Chris Pollard said. “I’m proud of the fact that we were able to find ways to win when we didn’t play our best baseball. We’ve got a lot of things that we’ve got to get better at, but I will say this: that’s three ballgames where’ve been behind and we’ve had an answer every time. That’s a mark of a good club and I’m really proud of the way that our club is competing, regardless of whether we’re up or down.”
Duke took an early 1-0 lead in the third thanks to Maxwell’s first career home run over the wall in left.
The Wildcats answered in the top of the fifth with a trio of runs to go ahead 3-1. David Dunn led off with a double to center field and moved to third on a one-out single through the left side by Casey O’Laughlin. Duke pitcher Matt Dockman attempted a pickoff at first, but the ball got away and allowed Dunn to come home with the tying run. A groundout to first advanced Dunn to second with two outs. Jack Dunn delivered the go-ahead run with a ground ball up the middle that went off the glove of diving Murray at shortstop and into right center for a double that plated O’Laughlin. Ben Dickey followed with a single through the left side that drove in Jack Dunn to make it a two-run advantage. A fly out ended the rally.
Northwestern tacked on another run in the top of the eighth to take a 4-1 with Alex Erro leading off on a single, moving to second on a failed pickoff attempt and scoring on a single to center from Anthony Calarco.
Duke’s second homer of the evening tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth as Rothenberg’s three-run, two-out blast drove in Tyler Wardwell and graduate student Kyle Gallagher, who had both walked.
The Blue Devils walked it off in the bottom of the 10th as Nichols hit a one-out single to right and, after a strikeout, Maxwell delivered the winning run.
On the mound for Duke, junior Graeme Stinson went the first 4.0 innings, allowing just one hit and two walks while fanning seven. Dockman tossed the next 2.0 frames, yielding three runs on five hits, while fanning one. Senior Hunter Davis covered 3.0 innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk to go along with five strikeouts. Graduate student Ben Gross (1-0) worked a clean 10th to earn the win. Northwestern’s Nick Paciorek took the loss, throwing one-and-a-third innings and allowing two hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Hank Christie was strong in the start, tossing six innings with three hits and 10 strikeouts.
In the nightcap, it was the Wildcats who used a home run to take an early lead, going up 3-0 on in the top of the second on a long ball to right field by O’Laughlin.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the top of the third to take a 5-0 lead with a two-run single through the right side by Calarco.
From there, the hit parade began for the Blue Devils as Duke responded with 12 runs, nine before an out was recorded, during a 39-minute bottom of the third. Ethan Murray started the scoring with a single to right field that drove in Maxwell, who led off with a triple. Chris Crabtree plated two with a single up the middle and Rothenberg delivered two more with a single through the right side that tied the game at 5-5 before Kyle Gallagher scored the winning run on a balk.
With still no outs in the frame, a Chase Cheek triple plated two for an 8-5 Duke advantage. Maxwell singled with one out to plate Cheek and a Kennie Taylor single made the game 10-5 in favor of Duke. A Crabtree sacrifice fly provided the 11th run of the frame and a Gallagher single up the middle drove in the final tally.
Northwestern responded in the top of the fourth with two runs to cut the deficit down to 12-7. Jack Dunn had an infield single that drove in Dunn and Charlie Maxwell singled to plate O’Laughlin.
The top of the sixth had the Wildcats get another run back to trail 12-8. After a strikeout started the frame, Jack Dunn singled through the right side, advanced to second on a Maxwell single and scored on a single up the middle by Alex Erro.
Duke exploded again in the bottom of the seventh with 11 more runs to extend the lead to 23-8. With the bases loaded and one out, Rothenberg shot a two-out single through the right side to drive in pinch hitter Wil Hoyle and Taylor for a 14-8 lead. Nichols followed with a two-run double to right center that plated Crabtree and Rothenberg to push the advantage to 16-8. Murray cleared the bases with a triple to center field that plated three for a 19-8 lead. After a wild pitch allowed Murray to score, pinch hitter Matt Mervis hit a three-run blast to right field to cap the scoring.
Bryce Jarvis got the start for the Blue Devils and surrendered five runs on three hits and five walks while fanning three in 2.2 innings of work. Freshman Jack Carey (1-0) earned his first career victory, tossing 3.1 innings and yielding three runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Bill Chillari, Aaron Beasley and Al Pesto covered the final three frames, with Beasley and Pesto making their first appearances of the season.
Northwestern’s Sam Lawrence was saddled with the loss after going two frames and yielding six runs on four hits and two walks with two whiffs. Danny Katz faced four batters, allowing four runs on three hits and a walk. Ryan Bader went four frames, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Michael Doherty went 0.2 innings with 11 runs, four earned, on six hits, three walks and a trio of strikeouts. Josh Levy threw the final 1.1 frames of scoreless relief.
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