BRADENTON, Fla. – In a dominating performance, the Duke pitching staff combined to throw a no-hitter against Penn State, leading the Blue Devils to a 14-0 series-opening victory over the Nittany Lions Friday afternoon at IMG Academy. The no-hitter served as the program’s first since Tom Blackburn accomplished the feat against Rollins in 1955.
With the win, the Blue Devils improve their record to 8-1 on the season, while Penn State falls to 6-1, suffering its first loss of the campaign. The Nittany Lions entered today’s ballgame as one of only 13 unbeaten teams in the nation.
The Duke pitching staff tallied 11 strikeouts across the nine hitless innings, while only surrendering two walks. Headlining the effort was starting pitcher Graeme Stinson (2-0), who worked the first 5.0 innings, collecting five punchouts, and allowing two walks to earn his second win of the season. Sophomore Matt Dockman followed in relief, tossing 1.0 inning and recording one strikeout, while freshman Jack Carey went on to work the final 3.0 frames, notching five strikeouts to earn his first career save.
“Graeme (Stinson) was really efficient early and did a great job of pitching to contact,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Matt Dockman came in and did exactly what you want a guy to do with a five-run lead, which is pitch to contact and he had a 13-pitch inning. I thought Jack Carey was tremendous. He threw three pitches for strikes and really pounded the strikezone. He attacked the zone when he had to. I’m really proud of his outing.”.
The Blue Devils jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, thanks to a home run from leadoff man Kennie Taylor. The senior co-captain sent the first pitch he saw to deep center for a solo shot to give Duke the one-run lead after a half-inning of play.
The Blue Devils added four runs in the third to extend the lead. After working a seven-pitch at-bat, junior Chase Cheek lined a single through the right side followed by sophomore Tyler Wardwell, who reached on a walk. With runners on first and second, Taylor delivered a RBI triple down the right field line to score two before coming across on a passed ball.
The inning continued with a walk from sophomore Chris Crabtree followed by a one-pitch single from freshman Rudy Maxwell to place runners on the corners. Sophomore Michael Rothenberg used the next at-bat to send a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring the inning’s fourth and final run to set the tally at 5-0 in favor of Duke.
The seventh inning saw the Blue Devils explode for a nine-run frame, with the first nine batters reaching base before an out was recorded. After two walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, a bases-loaded walk brought across the inning’s first run. In the next at-bat, Kyle Gallagher sent a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring another run to make it a 7-0 contest.
With the bases loaded, freshman Ethan Murray kept things going with a bases-clearing double down the left field line to plate a trio of runs. The Blue Devils added five more runs in the seventh, capitalizing on four free-passes from the Penn State pitchers, while using a pair of sacrifice flies to make it a 14-0 ballgame heading into the seventh-inning stretch, which would also go to be the eventual final.
The trio of Taylor, Murray and Cheek led the offensive charge for the Blue Devils, each contributing multi-hit efforts with two hits apiece. Taylor added four RBI with three runs scored, while Murray tallied three RBI with one run scored. Cheek finished with a pair of runs scored, and also added his fourth stolen base of the season, which leads the team.
Duke goes for the series win tomorrow afternoon in game two of the series with Penn State, which is scheduled for a 2 p.m. first pitch. The Blue Devils will look to sophomore right-hander Bryce Jarvis, while the Nittany Lions will counter with right-hander of their own in sophomore Bailey Dees.
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