DURHAM, N.C. – Sophomore Adam Laskey tossed seven shutout innings and freshman Michael Rothenberg lifted the first home run of his career to lead Duke past Bucknell, 7-0, in the series opener Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Laskey (1-1) fanned a career-high 10 batters over his seven complete innings, scattering four singles without issuing a walk. He retired 12 straight Bison hitters from the third to the seventh and did not permit a Bucknell runner to reach scoring position until the seventh.
“Incredibly impressive outing,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “[Laskey] was really poised. Great mound presence. Threw three pitches for strikes. What I thought was the real key, he and coach (Dusty) Blake did a really good job using the change up to produce a ton of swings and misses to allow the fastball to play up. When he can locate his changeup, that makes his 90-91 mph fastball look even firmer. Incredibly well pitched game.”
Through the first seven innings, the lone run of the game came courtesy of Rothenberg’s fourth-inning solo shot. Batting from the left side, the freshman catcher blasted the first pitch he saw from Bucknell (0-4) starter Connor Van Hoose into the right field stands.
Van Hoose (0-2) took the loss despite a strong performance on the mound. The right-hander allowed the one run on three hits. He struck out nine and walked three.
Duke (3-2) broke the game open with six runs in the bottom of the eighth. Bison reliever Jack Grabek walked the bases loaded before senior Max Miller drove a two-run single into left center. Following a Joey Loperfido walk, junior Jimmy Herron sent a two-run single of his own through the left side before classmate Griffin Conine plated a pair with a double to deep center field.
“No secret that we hadn’t done a great job with the bases loaded to this point in the year,” Pollard said. “We kind of needed a big hit to break the seal. I told our team, it was fitting that our two-time captain was the one to give us that big hit. Some guys came up behind him and good at bats too. That’s a classic Jimmy Herron hit. Then Griffin Conine with two really good at bats late in the game.”
Relievers Ethan DeCaster and Bill Chillari combined for two scoreless innings to complete the shutout. In total, the three Duke pitchers fanned 13 hitters without a walk.
Duke and Bucknell continue the series Saturday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m., on ACC Network Extra. Right-hander Ryan Day faces off against fellow righty Jeff Gottesman.