DURHAM, N.C. – Senior right-hander Drew Van Orden held No. 19 North Carolina to one run over eight innings as the Duke baseball team defeated the Tar Heels 3-2 Friday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Van Orden (2-2) posted a season-high 12 strikeouts and did not walk a batter in the victory. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native had a strikeout in every inning except the third and fanned the side in both the fifth and eighth frames. He retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced, allowing only an infield single in the sixth in that span.
“I was really successful today with getting ahead in the count,” said Van Orden. “A lot of cutters early and I was able to command that well. The big thing was the defense behind me made a lot of really great plays. Grant McCabe early with a runner on first and nobody out made a play in the gap. Kenny [Koplove] made a big double play up the middle and went back on a little flare into left field and made a good play. That helped me get into a better rhythm.”
Senior Robert Huber came on in a rain-soaked ninth and allowed one run on a pair of walks and an RBI fielder’s choice to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Duke (15-12, 5-5 ACC), led by senior Matt Berezo with two hits and two RBI, registered nine hits to five for North Carolina (15-10, 5-5 ACC). Berezo extended his streak to seven straight games with two or more hits and added a pair of sacrifice flies to put the Blue Devils ahead. In addition, senior Mark Lumpa extended his on base streak to 14 games with a single in the third.
Trent Thornton (5-1) suffered his first loss on the year, allowing three runs, two earned, on nine hits over seven complete innings. The Tar Heel right-hander threw 108 pitches, struck out three and walked one.
North Carolina opened the scoring in the second inning as right fielder Tyler Ramirez dropped a two-out RBI double inside the left field line. Ramierez’ hit scored Tom Zengel, who led off the inning with a single, from first.
Van Orden buckled down after allowing the lone run, permitting just two Tar Heel baserunners over his final six innings of work.
“The thing that was so impressive is how [Van Orden] got stronger as the game went on,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “He just made a lot of great pitches. And really, they were on their toes in the batter’s box in the first three innings. They hit a lot of balls hard and we made a good play behind him. Then he used that and really settled in and got better and better as it went.”
Lumpa and Berezo recorded back-to-back one-out base hits in the third to kickstart the Duke offense. After both runners advanced on a Marconcini fly ball to center field, Lumpa scampered home on a wild pitch to knot the score at one-all.
The Blue Devils captured the lead in the fifth as sophomore Kenny Koplove drilled a base hit through the left side and ultimately scored on Berezo’s first sacrifice fly of the afternoon.
Up 2-1, Duke added an insurance run in the seventh. Junior Andy Perez drilled the first pitch he saw down the right field line for a double, then advanced to third after Thornton’s pickoff throw sailed into the outfield. That set the tables for Berezo, who again delivered the sacrifice fly.
“We did a really good job of when runners were in scoring position of scoring a run,” Pollard said. “I really give a ton of credit to Matt Berezo. He had a couple of really good at bats with runners at third base, scoring the run. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to be opportunistic against a guy like Trent Thornton as good as he is. You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you have.
A steady rain began to fall in the top of the ninth, and Huber issued a pair of walks to begin the frame. UNC starched across a run on back-to-back fielder’s choices before Huber got Zengel looking to close out the game.
The two ACC rivals return to action Saturday with the first pitch of game two set for 1 p.m. from Jack Coombs Field.