DURHAM, N.C. – Saint Louis first baseman Mike Vigliarolo’s three-run homer in the sixth proved to be the difference as the Billikens held on the rest of the way to defeat the Duke baseball team 3-2 Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Vigliarolo’s home run, the first allowed by the Blue Devils this season, came with two outs in the sixth and accounted for all of Saint Louis’ (2-3) scoring in the game. Duke (3-3) plated single runs in the first and fifth innings, but was unable to push the tying tally across late.
Junior Andrew Istler (0-2) pitched well in the loss as the Wellington, Fla., native did not walk a batter and struck out four over 5.2 innings. Istler permitted Saint Louis’ three runs, all unearned, and scattered six hits on the day.
“I thought we played well,” said head coach Chris Pollard. "We pitched great. I thought Istler had a terrific start. I don’t put that home run on him at all. I think we left him out there a pitch or two too long. That’s my mistake. He pitched a terrific game and deserved a better fate. That’s two outings in a row where he’s been victimized by some unearned runs.”
Catcher Mike Rosenfeld had a season-high three hits, marking his third multi-hit game of the season. Rosenfeld also scored in the first and drove in his fourth run of the 2014 campaign with a two-out RBI single in the fifth. Center fielder Grant McCabe, first baseman Chris Marconcini and right fielder Ryan Deitrich accounted for Duke’s remaining hits.
Duke plated a first-inning run for the third time this season to take an early 1-0 advantage. Rosenfeld started things off by beating out a bunt single and ultimately scored from third on a passed ball.
Istler permitted just one Saint Louis batter to advance to second base over the first five frames, and Duke put a second run on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Designated hitter Aaron Cohn drew the leadoff walk and moved to second on a Kenny Koplove sacrifice bunt. Rosenfeld came up with the two-out hit, driving an RBI single to right center.
Vigliarolo erased Duke’s two-run advantage with one swing of the bat in the top of the sixth. Shortstop Michael Cusenza reached on an error and left fielder Michael Bozarth followed with a single to set the table for the Billiken cleanup hitter. The home run was Vigliarolo’s second of the season.
The Blue Devil bullpen, aided by a couple tremendous defensive plays, kept the game close and did not allow another Saint Louis run. Left-handers Nick Hendrix and Chris Kono pitched the final 3.1 innings to keep the deficit at one. McCabe made a terrific sliding catch in right center to help Hendrix out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh, and Kono allowed just one hit over the final two innings of play.
Duke had its chances in the eighth and ninth as the Blue Devils left a man stranded on third in both frames.
“We played great defense,” Pollard added. “I thought [Istler] gave us a good enough start to win. I thought our relievers came in and did a terrific job keeping the game right there at 3-2. We made some plays behind our relievers to keep the game tight. We gave ourselves a chance in the bottom of the eighth. We gave ourselves a chance in the bottom of the ninth to tie it up and just didn’t get that hit. You consistently do that, good things are going to happen. We’re very close.”
The Blue Devils close out the inaugural Duke Baseball Classic presented by Homewood Suites by Hilton RDU/RTP Sunday against Akron at 3 p.m.