DURHAM, N.C. – After winning the ACC-opening series against N.C. State at home last weekend, the Duke baseball team will make its first ACC road trip of the year to No. 16 Clemson this Friday through Sunday, March 18-20.
Duke (14-4, 2-1 ACC) took last weekend’s conference-opening series from N.C. State by winning the final two games 8-3 and 7-1 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Blue Devils got solid starts from each of their three weekend starters – Chase Bebout, Dennis O’Grady and Marcus Stroman – and made just one error over the final two games.
Duke’s starting pitching has been among of the best in the ACC this season as those three starters and junior southpaw Eric Pfisterer have combined for a 7-0 record and a 1.62 ERA on the weekends. Bebout, a 6-6 sophomore, has been one of the ACC’s best and most consistent starters early in the season and boasts a 2-0 record, a 1.09 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. O’Grady, meanwhile, has thrown four straight quality starts on the way to a 4-0 record and a 1.80 ERA, while Stroman has allowed just one run all season and is holding the opposition to a .190 average.
Offensively, Duke has produced the fifth-most runs in the ACC with timely hitting and an aggressive running game. Despite hitting just two home runs, the Blue Devils have scored more than twice as many runs as their opponents with an average of more than seven per game. Duke leads the ACC with 38 steals and is stealing at a 76 percent success rate thanks to the aggressive base running of junior Will Piwnica-Worms – who leads the ACC with 10 steals – and veterans O’Grady and Joe Pedevillano who boast five steals apiece.
In last year’s meeting with Clemson (7-6, 0-3 ACC), Duke took the series over the then-ranked No. 11 Tigers with 10-9 win in game one and a 7-2 victory in game three. The Blue Devils scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the opener and then got a career-high 7.1 innings of two-run baseball from Bebout on Sunday to clinch the series.
The past three series with Clemson have been competitive, as four of the past nine meetings have been decided by three runs or less. The Blue Devils have won at least one game against the Tigers in each of those seasons, posting a 4-4-1 record during that span.
Clemson enters the weekend on a five-game losing streak, losing four of those games by one run. Despite a weekend sweep at the hands of No. 6 Virginia and a midweek loss to Prebyterian, however, Clemson owns one of the most dangerous offenses in the ACC with a .310 team batting average and an ACC-low 97 strikeouts. The Tigers boast one of the best hitters in the ACC in sophomore catcher Spencer Kieboom, who ranks second in the league with a .425 batting average.
Following the three-game series with Clemson, Duke will return home briefly for a midweek home game against Ohio on Tuesday, March 22 at Jack Coombs Field. Duke will then take on rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.