DURHAM, N.C. - With the game tied 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, junior third baseman Jordan Betts belted a two-run home run to left field, lifting the Duke baseball team to a 2-0 victory over visiting Bucknell Saturday at Jack Coombs Field.
A pitchers' duel throughout, senior Jeff Kremer got things started in the final inning with a one-out walk. Kremer was able to advance to second on a wild pitch then moved to third after tagging on a Mike Rosenfeld fly ball to center. That brought Betts to the plate with two outs and a runner on third as the Wilmington, N.C., native hammered the 1-0 offering from Bison right-hander Marcus Garone for the walk-off victory. The home run was the second for Betts this season and seventh of his career.
"It's one of those fun moments in college baseball that every guy dreams of," said head coach Chris Pollard. "When Jeff [Kremer] got to third, it really set it up that they were going to have to challenge Jordan [Betts] because they didn't want to spike a breaking ball in that situation and have a passed ball to end the game. Jeff's play to get to third put as in a position where Jordan got a pitch to hit and he took advantage of it."
For the second consecutive day, Duke's starting pitcher recorded 10-plus strikeouts as junior Drew Van Orden and sophomore Andrew Istler would combine for the one-hit shutout. Van Orden (0-1) posted a career-high 13 strikeouts and held Bucknell (0-5) to one hit over eight scoreless innings. He retired 23 of the 26 batters he faced and struck out at least one batter in every inning except the seventh. Istler (1-0) came on and pitched a perfect ninth, recording a pair of groundouts and a strikeout in his second appearance of the season.
"It was an incredibly well-pitched game: one hit, one walk, 13 strikeouts," Pollard said. "It was about as an impressive as [Trent] Swart's outing last night. I think it's an outing [Van Orden] can build off of. He was really, really good with his cutter. He used it to get himself out a number of jams. That pitch, when he has it working for him, can get a lot of soft contact. He got ground ball outs and he got a number of strikeouts as well."
Sophomore Andy Perez recorded the first Blue Devil hit on the day, a single up the middle in the second inning, and stole second for his team-high fourth stolen base of the season. Duke (3-2) was unable to convert on the opportunity, leaving Perez stranded at second.
Duke again looked to be in good position to plate a run in the seventh as Rosenfeld doubled to lead off the inning. Bison LHP Dan Weigel was again able to work out of the jam and retired the next three Duke batters to preserve the 0-0 tie.
Despite a strong showing from the Bison junior, Weigel (0-2) would suffer the loss after issuing the walk to Kremer in the ninth. Weigel struck out five in 8.1 innings and allowed just one run on two hits for the afternoon.
"It was a great ball game," Pollard added. "I thought it was a well-played game on both sides. Weigel threw the ball exceptionally well for Bucknell. I thought Van Orden threw the ball great; it was a pitchers' duel from the first inning on. Both teams played really good defense and made their pitchers better. Both teams had some opportunities. Certainly we had a couple opportunities to push a run across and pitchers made pitches when they needed to. [It was] just a really great baseball game. I'm glad we got Jordan [Betts] to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and he came up big."
Duke and Bucknell close out the series Sunday at Jack Coombs Field. The first pitch of game three is set for 12 p.m.