CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The Duke baseball team limited No. 24 Miami to just six hits, but the Hurricanes took advantage of their opportunities, defeating the Blue Devils 5-3 in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
In total, the Blue Devils issued seven walks and hit two batters in the game while the Miami staff walked just two batters. Junior Robert Huber (2-1) suffered the loss despite not giving up a hit in two innings pitched as the Plano, Texas, native struck out two but walked three.
"Our guys competed well," said head coach Chris Pollard. "But the difference today versus the first two days is that we gave them too many free bases. You've got seven walks and two hit by pitch. We've seen it enough; when we don't walk guys, we have success. We gave their offense an opportunity to get going with the free bases. When we don't do that, we give ourselves a chance. But unfortunately today
Miami starter Andrew Suarez (2-1) threw seven complete in the win allowing two runs, one earned, while recording four strikeouts.
Sophomore Andy Perez continued his strong performance at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. For the series, Perez was 6-for-12 with two doubles and four runs scored. Senior Jeff Kremer also turned in a 2-for-4 performance while junior Jordan Betts, junior Anthony D'Alessandro and freshman Kenny Koplove recorded hits for Duke.
After two scoreless innings to being the game, Duke (8-7, 2-1 ACC) put a run on the board in the third, taking advantage of a Miami (13-4, 1-2 ACC) error. D'Alessandro reached base after a throwing error by Miami shortstop Brendon Lopez pulled first baseman Chris Barr off the bag and sophomore Andrew Istler laid down the sac bunt to advance the runner to second. Koplove, who was 5-for-9 at the plate in his first ACC series, ripped an RBI single to right center for the first run of the game. Perez and Kremer followed suit with singles of their own to load the bases with one out. Miami got out of the inning on the next play as junior Jordan Betts flied out to center and Angelo La Bruna, who had entered the game for Koplove, was gunned down at the plate by UM center fielder Dale Carey.
"That was a big play," Pollard said. "We're going to send him every time in that situation. We're going to make them throw us out every single time. It was the right decision to send him. Carey made a great throw. You just tip your hat. Carey's a really good athlete; he's a really good player. He made a perfect throw and he beat us."
In the bottom half of the inning, a pair of walks ignited a Miami rally as both Hurricane runners scored on a Chantz Mack two-RBI single to right center, giving Miami its first lead of the series 2-1. Mack would later score on an Alex San Juan base hit through the left side to put Miami on top 3-1 before Duke was able to work out of the inning.
The Blue Devils pushed a run across in the fifth after D'Alessandro once again reached base to lead off the inning. The Mahwah, N.J., native drilled his third triple of the season down the right field line to start off the frame. Suarez retired the next two Blue Devils before Perez laced a double to left for his second hit of the day.
Miami capitalized on Duke's first error of the series in the sixth, scoring two unearned runs to go ahead 5-2. Garrett Kennedy reached base on an error to start the frame and scored on an Alex Hernandez RBI single before Mack sent a sac fly to center to bring home Lopez, who had walked earlier in the inning.
After Betts tagged a solo shot over the wall in left center, his third home run of the season, in the top of the eighth to cut Miami's lead to 5-3, Duke looked to put together a rally in the ninth. Sophomore Grant McCabe drew a leadoff walk and pinch hitter Mark Lumpa appeared to have a single through the right side, but Miami second baseman Hernandez made a sliding stop to get Lumpa at first. Eric Nedljkovic recorded a strikeout and a groundout to end the game, earning his first save of the season.
Following the series against Miami, Duke returns to Durham for a pair of midweek games. The Blue Devils will face N.C. Central at the Durham Athletic Park Tuesday at 6 p.m., before hosting Quinnipiac Wednesday at 6 p.m., at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.