DURHAM, N.C. – Duke junior right-hander Marcus Stroman held No. 7 North Carolina to two unearned runs over seven innings but once again had little run support as the Blue Devils fell to the Tar Heels 2-1 on Friday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Stroman (5-5) had eight strikeouts on the night, running his NCAA-leading strikeout total to 127. Stroman now has 127 strikeouts in 91 innings, good for a 12.56 strikeouts per nine innings rate. In his nine ACC starts, Stroman has 90 strikeouts compared to just 16 walks.
In Stroman’s five losses this season, he has held opponents to a combined 12 earned runs over 35 innings (3.08 ERA). The Duke offense has let him down in those games, scoring a total of only four runs.
Stroman lowered his season ERA to 2.18 and his ERA in ACC games fell to 2.22 after Friday’s performance.
Stroman’s 281 career strikeouts put him at fifth on Duke’s all-time strikeouts list. His 127 strikeouts in 2012 are the fifth-most in a single season in school history.
Stroman had a strikeout in every inning except the third. He retired 15 of the final 18 batters that he faced, including nine straight at one point.
North Carolina starter Kent Emanuel (7-3) held the Blue Devils to one run on five hits in eight innings of work. Emanuel had six strikeouts on the evening. Michael Morin came on in the ninth and retired all three batters he faced to pick up his 15th save of the season.
North Carolina (36-13, 17-8 ACC) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, scoring on a Duke error and on an RBI-triple by center fielder Chaz Frank.
The Tar Heels threatened to score again in the third with runners at second and third with only out one. Stroman then got first baseman Cody Stubbs to ground out and shortstop Michael Russell to fly out to right to get out of the jam.
Stroman got out of another jam in the sixth. With runners at second and third and one out on the board, Stroman struck out left fielder Parks Jordan and right fielder Adam Griffin to keep the score at 2-0.
Duke finally got on the board in the seventh. Third baseman Jordan Betts doubled over Frank’s head in center to begin the inning. It was the 19th double of the year for Betts. First baseman Andy Perez then sent an RBI-single back up the middle to cut the UNC lead to 2-1.
Betts finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run to pace the Blue Devils at the plate. Perez went 1-for-3 with his RBI-single, while left fielder Andrew Istler and second baseman Mark Lumpa added hits for Duke (19-30, 7-18 ACC).
Istler was another bright spot on the mound for Duke as he retired all five batters that he faced over the final 1.2 innings of the game.
The Blue Devils and Tar Heels will continue their series on Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday’s series finale is set for 2:30 p.m.