DURHAM, N.C. – A two-run home run from sophomore Michael Rothenberg and another solid performance from the Duke pitching staff lifted the Blue Devils to a 5-2 victory against Richmond on Tuesday night inside Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Duke improved its record to 7-1 while handing the Spiders their first loss of the season as they slip to 6-1 on the season. The Blue Devils are 7-1 or better through eight games for the first time since posting a 7-1 mark in the 2015 season.
“We got the two big blows in the first inning with (Michael) Rothenberg’s home run,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We had a good shutdown inning by Bill Chillari behind it. We took advantage of some mistakes that they made. We put the ball in play and made some things happen.”
Rothenberg’s first at bat Tuesday resulted in the long ball, giving him consecutive at bats with a homer as he sent the ball over the wall in his final plate appearance in Sunday’s series finale against Northwestern. Rothenberg finished the game with a team-high two runs scored and the squad’s only two RBI. The Blue Devil pitching staff limited Richmond to just four hits, three in the fourth and one in the eighth, and fanned 12.
Duke junior Bill Chillari got the win (2-0), going the first four innings and allowing one run on three hits to go along with four strikeouts. Chillari allowed his first hit with two outs in the top of the fourth, snapping his hitless streak at 10.1 innings to start the season. Junior Matt Mervis made his 2019 pitching debut and threw the fifth, allowing just one walk and fanning one. Senior Hunter Davis covered the next two innings with two walks surrendered and three strikeouts. Junior Eli Herrick tossed the eighth, surrendering an unearned run on a hit and two strikeouts. Sophomore Thomas Girard recorded the final three outs with two whiffs and one walk to record his first save of the campaign.
Richmond’s Jacob Marcus (0-1) lasted 2.2 innings, yielding five runs, two earned, on two hits, two walks and two hit batters. He also fanned five. Jacob Lamb relieved for the next 3.1 frames, giving up just two hits and a walk with three whiffs. Jarrad Delarso spanned the final two innings, surrendering two hits and fanning a pair.
Rothenberg put the Blue Devils in front in the bottom of the first with his two-run shot. Senior Kennie Taylor scored on the homer after reaching on a one-out double off the wall in left field.
Duke added three unearned runs in the bottom of the third to push the advantage to 5-0. With one out, Rothenberg was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch. One out later, graduate student Kyle Gallagher hit a ball to the shortstop, who let it roll between his legs for an error and allow Gallagher to score. Two walks loaded the bases with two down for sophomore Tyler Wardwell, whose ground ball to third was misplayed and bounced into left field, allowing Gallagher and junior Erikson Nichols to score.
Richmond got a run back in the top of the fourth to make it a 5-1 contest. With two outs, Tyler Plantier, Justin Cook and Anthony Forte strung three singles together with Plantier coming home on the Forte single up the middle to give the Spiders their first run of the day.
Richmond tallied its last run in the top of the eighth to trim the deficit down to 5-2. The Spiders had their first hit since the fourth with a leadoff double from Jordan Schulefand. After a foul out, Schulefand stole third and came home on an errant throw.
The Blue Devils make their first road trip of the season this weekend, heading to Bradenton, Fla., for a three-game series against Penn State. First pitch on Friday is slated for 4 p.m. with a Saturday first pitch at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 12 noon.
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