DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team capitalized on early Eagle miscues and added insurance runs late to capture an 8-3 victory over N.C. Central Wednesday night at Jack Coombs Field. Sophomores Andy Perez and Grant McCabe were a combined 7-for-8 at the plate, while junior Mark Lumpa extended his hitting streak to six games with a 2-for-3 performance.
A first-inning dropped popup in foul territory proved costly for the Eagles as Duke put three unearned runs on the board in the opening frame. Perez singled to begin the inning and would come home on a McCabe base knock. Redshirt sophomore Chris Marconcini capped off the frame with a two-run blast, his team-leading seventh home run of the season and second in as many games.
N.C. Central starter Jordan Quinn kept the Eagles in the game and put zeroes on the board over the next four innings. That allowed NCCU to pull within one run heading into the sixth.
The Eagles plated their first run in the second after right fielder Ronald Thompson began the frame with a double. Thompson would ultimately score on a Carter Williamson RBI single.
NCCU added a second run in the top of the fourth to cut Duke’s advantage to 3-2. Second baseman Spencer Franceschetti lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, plating third baseman Troy Marrow who had beat out an infield single to start off the inning.
The Eagles threatened to tie the game in the top of the sixth as leadoff hitter Akeem Hood laced a line drive up the middle with two outs and a runner on third. However, Perez was able to make the diving grab to his right, preserving the Duke advantage.
After narrowly escaping the top of the sixth, Duke answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Marconcini was hit by a pitch and Lumpa followed with a base hit to left. A Kenny Koplove sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and sophomore Reed Anthes sent a grounder to short, which enabled Marconcini to score Duke’s fourth run of the game.
Duke added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh to bolster its advantage to 6-2. Perez and McCabe each drilled their third hit of the game to start off the inning. Perez scored on a throwing error by the Central catcher as McCabe stole second. A Betts sacrifice fly plated McCabe and extended the Blue Devils’ lead to four runs.
Lumpa led off the eighth with a base hit and Anthes roped a ground rule double to place runners on second and third with one out. Lumpa would scamper home on a wild pitch and Perez recorded his fourth hit of the night, this time an RBI single up the middle, giving Duke an 8-2 lead.
N.C. Central scored the final run of the game in the top of the ninth on a RBI single by Luis Diaz.
Perez finished the evening 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored and McCabe was a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Lumpa added a pair of hits in the contest and scored a run.
Sophomore Dalton Brown (1-0) earned the victory, allowing two runs on seven hits in four innings of work. Sophomore Sarkis Ohanian and freshman Nick Hendrix combined to throw four scoreless innings in relief.
Quinn (5-1) suffered the loss for the Eagles, giving up eight runs – only three earned - on 12 hits. The NCCU left-hander struck out a pair a walked one over 7.2 innings.
Next up, Duke travels to No. 7 Florida State for a three-game series beginning Friday in Tallahassee, Fla.