DURHAM, N.C. – Redshirt junior Chris Marconcini led a contingent of four Blue Devils with multiple hits as the Duke baseball team wrapped up the inaugural Duke Baseball Classic presented by Homewood Suites by Hilton RDU/RTP with a 5-2 victory over Akron Sunday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field. Marconcini went 2-for-4, including a three-run homer in the fifth, to pace Duke’s offense.
Sunday’s performance capped off a tremendous week for Marconcini. Over the past four games, the Duke first baseman was 10-for-15 at the plate while adding two doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, six runs scored and three stolen bases. He also reached base in 14-of-19 plate appearances during that span and raised his batting average from .250 to .481.
“Obviously [Chris] Marconcini’s been really, really good since the get go this year,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “[Ryan] Deitrich has had a really good weekend getting back in the mix … had the RBI and the two hits today. And two hits by [Jordan] Betts, he’s had a number of good ball games. I thought Jordan also had a really good game defensively. I was really impressed with the way David Perkins came off the bench and swung the bat as well. You look up and down the lineup, and a lot of good productivity today. [Akron] didn’t give us anything free. They walked two guys all day. They only had the one hit by pitch. We had to earn it.”
Marconcini singled and scored in the bottom of the second to give Duke (4-3) a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the way. Left fielder Mark Lumpa drew the bases-loaded walk following base hits from Deitrich and Betts to plate the first run of the game.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth when Marconcini unleashed a three-run shot over the right field wall. A Rosenfeld double and McCabe single earlier in the inning provided Marconcini with the RBI opportunity.
Akron (3-3) plated a pair of unearned runs off Duke starter James Marvel (1-1) in the sixth to narrow the margin to 4-2. Left fielder Daulton Mosbarger singled and scored in the inning, while designated hitter Grant Alvarez drove in a run.
Marvel was outstanding in his second start of the season, securing the victory with 6.2 solid innings of work. Despite being struck by a line drive up the middle, the Moraga, Calif., native did not permit an earned run, scattering six hits on the day. In addition, Marvel did not allow an extra base hit, struck out five batters and issued just one walk.
“I thought [Marvel] was very, very good early in the game,” Pollard said. “He was down in the zone. He had life. He had movement. Much sharper than he was this time last week. After he took the ball off the hand, I wasn’t sure if he would be able to continue going, but it kind of made him mad. He showed a lot of toughness there; he got better after that. I’m proud of him. I thought it was a terrific outing.”
Duke put an insurance run on the board in the seventh as McCabe drew the free pass, his eighth walk of the season, and Deitrich drove him in with a live drive to left.
Relievers Chris Kono, Conner Stevens and Robert Huber clinched the victory, working the final 2.1 innings without yielding a run. Huber earned the save, his first this season and the second of his career, after setting down the Zips in order in the ninth.
“Our bullpen was unbelievable this weekend,” Pollard added. “You look at the numbers for the weekend, it was pretty lights out.”
Next up, Duke hosts non-conference foe Norfolk State at Jack Coombs Field Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m.