CLEMSON, S.C. – The Duke baseball team used a solid pitching effort combined with timely hitting to secure a 5-3 victory over No. 16 Clemson Saturday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. With the win, the Blue Devils claim the series, marking the program’s first series win at Clemson since 1993.
“We got down again early and had an answer,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I thought our pitching was terrific. Bill (Chillari) did exactly what we wanted him to do, which was get through the lineup two times. I can’t say enough about Jack Carey. It was a tremendous outing and the best outing of his young career. Jack had to step up and he really did. Thomas (Girard) came in and pitched well. He had some tough pitches kind of go against him. It was a well-pitched ballgame and a well-defended ballgame. We were clutch with two outs.”
The Blue Devils (23-16, 10-10 ACC) battled from behind for the second consecutive day after falling to an early 1-0 deficit. Clemson (25-14, 11-9 ACC) struck first with one run in the first, before Duke reeled off five runs—all of which came with two outs—across the fifth and sixth innings to grab the advantage. The Tigers made things interesting with a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth, but would come no closer as the Blue Devils claimed the series-clinching victory.
It was freshman Jack Carey (2-0) who earned the win for Duke, working 2.2 scoreless innings in relief, allowing only two hits while recording a pair of strikeouts. Duke starter Bill Chillari covered the first 4.1 frames, yielding one earned run on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts. Sophomore Thomas Girard tossed the final 2.0 innings of the contest, allowing two earned runs on two hits while walking two and striking out a pair.
Offensively, the Blue Devils were led by the duo of senior Kennie Taylor and sophomore Chris Crabtree, who contributed two hits apiece. Crabtree finished 2-for-4 with a double and a team-high tying two RBI. Fellow sophomore Michael Rothenberg joined Crabtree in the run-producing effort, notching his second consecutive multi-RBI effort. Rothenberg closed out the contest with two RBI as part of his 1-for-4 afternoon.
The Tigers plated a single tally in the first to jump ahead. After a single to begin the inning, the Clemson leadoff man used a pair of stolen bases to advance to third. A sacrifice fly in the next at-bat allowed the runner to score the game’s first run, giving Clemson a 1-0 lead after one full.
After the two teams went scoreless across the next three innings, the Blue Devils broke into the scoring column with a pair of runs in the fifth to shift the momentum. With one down, freshman Ethan Murray sent a single to left field, extending his hitting streak to a personal-best 10 games. One out later, junior Erikson Nichols reached on a throwing error by the shortstop, which also allowed Murray to advance to third. After Nichols stole second, Crabtree delivered a two-run double to the right field corner to put Duke in front, 2-1.
The Blue Devils returned in the sixth to put up a three spot to pad their lead. The inning began with back-to-back singles from Taylor and junior Matt Mervis to place runners on first and second. One out later, Murray drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases. With nowhere to put them, a balk by the Clemson pitcher allowed Taylor to cross the first run of the inning. In the very next at-bat, Rothenberg blooped a single into shallow center field to score two and push the margin to 5-1 in Duke’s favor.
The Tigers made things interesting in the ninth, using a two-run home run to make it a 5-3 ballgame. Girard battled back to record the final out of the inning with a fly ball to right to close out the game and secure the 5-3 victory.
The two teams return to the diamond tomorrow afternoon as Duke looks to claim the series sweep. The series finale is set for a 1 p.m. first pitch at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, with coverage airing live on ACC Network Extra.
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