ATLANTA – Sophomore Michael Matuella was dominant in his first career complete game, but the Duke baseball team was shut out for the first time this season in a 1-0 setback at Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium.
A right-hander from Great Falls, Va., Matuella (0-1) allowed a lone unearned run, scattering four hits while striking out six without walking a batter. Three of the four hits Matuella permitted did not leave the infield as the 6-6 sophomore needed just 87 pitches to retire 23 of the 27 batters he faced.
“It was one of the best pitched games I’ve ever seen by Michael Matuella,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Only three balls reached the outfield the whole ballgame. He gave up four singles, three of them were infield hits. He didn’t walk a guy. He completely dominated the game. Georgia Tech’s guys pitched exceptionally well, too. It was a back-and-forth pitchers’ duel and it came down to a swinging bunt base hit. I’m proud of Matuella.”
Georgia Tech (19-13, 8-7 ACC) starter Matthew Grimes (4-1) set the tone for the Yellow Jacket staff, pitching six scoreless innings in the win. Grimes yielded five hits, walked four and struck out three. James Roberts tossed two hitless frames before Sam Clay finished off the game for his third save of the season.
Senior Jordan Betts notched three of the Blue Devils’ seven hits, raising his average to .350. In his fifth three-hit game of the season, Betts belted the 61st double of his career, giving him sole possession of second place on Duke’s career charts.
Matuella retired the first 16 batters he faced before third baseman Brandon Gold bounced a base hit up the middle in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Mott Hyde beat out an infield single and a subsequent passed ball advanced the runners to second and third. Daniel Spingola then sent a high chopper over the mound into no man’s land and legged out the RBI infield hit to plate the only run of the game.
Duke’s best offensive opportunities came in the second, fourth and ninth innings as the Blue Devils left runners in scoring position in all three frames. Betts doubled with two outs in the second before a strikeout ended the early threat. Duke would load the bases with two outs in the fourth following back-to-back Cohn and Matt Berezo singles as well as walk to Andy Perez, but a fielder’s choice brought the inning to a close.
In the top of the ninth, Betts singled and pinch hitter David Perkins lined a base hit to the outfield to give the Blue Devils a chance to tie the game. Clay escaped the jam with his second strikeout to complete the weekend sweep.
Duke (17-16, 7-8 ACC) returns to Jack Coombs Field Tuesday, April 8, taking on N.C. Central at 6 p.m.