DURHAM, N.C. – Sophomore Trent Swart was outstanding in eight scoreless innings as the Duke baseball team won its sixth straight with a 2-0 victory over No. 15 Georgia Tech Friday evening at Jack Coombs Field. The win is Duke’s fourth over a ranked opponent this season.
Swart (4-1) and sophomore Andrew Istler combined on tonight’s nine-hit shutout, the first time Georgia Tech had not put a run on the board since Feb. 17, 2012. Swart stymied the ACC’s leading offensive club, scattering seven hits – all singles - over eight innings of work. The Carlsbad, Calif., native struck out six and issued just one walk on the night.
“[Swart] pitched a great ball game,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “He showed unbelievable competitive fight. As a team, we competed really well. He set a tone for the whole ball game. One of the real keys was that he did a great job of controlling the running game. He varied his tempos, something we talked a lot about, to keep them from getting a good jump at first base. That limited their ability to straight steal which kept guys out of scoring position. That was the real difference in the ball game.”
Georgia Tech’s Buck Farmer (6-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing two runs on five hits over eight innings. Farmer kept the Blue Devil hitters off balance for much of the evening, striking out seven without issuing a walk, but Duke was able to manufacture a run in both the fourth and eighth innings.
Following three scoreless frames to start the ball game, Duke broke through with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Senior Jeff Kremer led off with a double inside the first base line and sophomore Grant McCabe laid down the bunt to advance the runner. Junior Jordan Betts proceeded to drive in his team-leading 31st RBI of the season with sac fly to left, giving Duke the 1-0 advantage.
The Yellow Jackets led off with a base hit in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings as Georgia Tech threatened to tie the score at one-all. Designated hitter Thomas Smith singled to begin the fifth and made it to third before Swart induced a ground ball to second the end the inning. The Yellow Jackets left a runner stranded on second in the seventh and looked poised to tie the score with two men on and one out in the eighth. But once again Swart kept the Yellow Jackets at bay, getting out of the eighth with a fielder’s choice and a fly out.
Holding on to a 1-0 lead, Duke added an insurance run in the eighth to stake the two-run advantage. Freshman Kenny Koplove beat out an infield single and moved into scoring position on a grounder to third. Junior Mark Lumpa then delivered the two-out RBI single, lacing the first pitch of the at bat to centerfield.
“That’s a huge at bat,” Pollard added. “Going into the ninth when you’re up 2-0 instead of 1-0, that game plays totally different because now they can’t sacrifice when the leadoff guy gets on. We did a really good job with our situational hitting tonight. We did it in the fourth when we bunted the runner over and Betts comes up and has the fly ball to score him. Lumpa comes up with the key hit. [Andy] Perez had a big hit behind him to extend that inning and maybe give us a chance to put a third run up. Overall, it was a really well-played ball game.”
Istler came on to pitch a scoreless ninth, striking out a pair to pick up his seventh save of the season. Georgia Tech had a pair of singles in the frame, but Istler struck out pinch out Daniel Spingola swinging and got centerfielder Kyle Wren to ground out to second to end the game.
Perez finished the evening 2-for-4 while Lumpa was 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead the Blue Devils.
Duke and Georgia Tech will resume the series tomorrow, meeting in game two at 1 p.m., at Jack Coombs Field.