DAVIDSON, N.C. – A combined effort of spectacular pitching and early offense helped the Duke baseball team to a 7-2 victory over Davidson Tuesday evening at Wilson Field. With the win, the Blue Devils improve to 14-11 on the season and claim the season series over the Wildcats.
“I was really impressed with Cooper (Stinson),” said head coach Chris Pollard. “That’s the most he’s pitched. He threw three pitches for strikes and he used his off-speed to get him back in the zone when he needed to find the zone and get back into a rhythm. He was out there pitching tonight and had really good stuff. That’s a good offense, and he had them off balance all night.”
Making his sixth start of the season, freshman Cooper Stinson (1-1) turned in a sensational outing for the Blue Devils. The freshman right-hander worked a career-high 7.0 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit while collecting a career-high 10 strikeouts en route to his first career win. Stinson threw 99 pitches before turning it over to his bullpen, with the duo of junior Adam Laskey and senior Hunter Davis finishing the final two frames. Davis slammed the door, tossing the final 1.1 innings of the contest and holding the Wildcats hitless across the span to earn his second save of the season.
Duke struck first in the midweek matchup, plating single tallies in both the first and second to grab an early lead. The first inning began with consecutive singles from leadoff man Chris Crabtree and senior Kennie Taylor, before junior Matt Mervis followed with a walk. With the bases loaded, a groundout allowed a run to cross the game’s first run to put Duke ahead 1-0 after a half inning.
With one down in the second, junior Chase Cheek lined a single up the middle before moving into scoring position on his team-leading 10th stolen base of the season. After advancing to third on a groundout, Cheek came across to score on a RBI single from Kyle Gallagher to extend Duke’s advantage to 2-0.
The Blue Devils scored four runs across the fourth and fifth innings to extend their lead. Duke used a two-out rally in the fourth to widen the margin and make it a 5-0 ballgame. The scoring sequence began with consecutive two-out singles from Gallagher and Crabtree to place runners on the corners. In the very next at –bat, Taylor lined a single up the middle to score one. The inning continued with a RBI single from Mervis to score another run for Duke before junior Michael Rothenberg capped the scoring with the frame’s third consecutive RBI single to give the Blue Devils the five-run advantage.
Duke added a single tally in the fifth, starting things with a one-out single from Cheek. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Cheek stole third and came across to score on a throwing error from the Davidson catcher to make it a 6-0 contest in favor of the Blue Devils.
Davidson broke through in the eighth, scoring a pair of runs to make it a 6-2 ballgame. The Wildcats used a one-out single and a wild pitch to place a runner in scoring position before a double brought a run across to place Davidson in the scoring column. A Blue Devil fielding miscue plated the inning’s second to set the score at 6-2 after eight full.
The Blue Devils responded in the very next half, scratching across one run to add insurance to the lead. On the first pitch of the inning, Mervis crushed a ball to deep right for a solo shot push Duke’s lead to 7-2, the eventual final.
Mervis paced the Duke offense with a three-hit effort, adding a team-high two RBI and one run scored. The foursome of Crabtree, Taylor, Cheek and Gallagher each contributed multi-hit outings, recording two hits apiece, while Crabtree and Cheek each scored a pair of runs.
Following the midweek contest with the Wildcats, the Blue Devils will continue their road slate, traveling down the road to Chapel Hill for the Tobacco Road rivalry, facing off with North Carolina in the fourth weekend of conference action. Duke and North Carolina are set for a 6 p.m. first pitch in Friday’s series opener, while Saturday’s game is set for a 3 p.m. start. The series finale between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels is scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch Sunday.
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