DAVIDSON, N.C. – Drew Gadaire hit two home runs, including a go-ahead two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh inning, to lead Davidson past Duke 9-7 on Wednesday evening at Wilson Field.
Gadaire drove in four runs and went 4-for-5 as the Wildcats (18-22) rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to overtake the Blue Devils with five runs over their last two innings. Leadoff batter Seth Freeman and catcher Daniel Gerow both drove in two runs, and Wildcat reliever Mike Frongello (4-3) threw two perfect innings of relief to keep Davidson in the game late.
Gadaire, Davidson’s leading hitter with a .366 average and 30 RBI entering the game, hit a solo homer in his first at bat, the two-run homer in the seventh and an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. His two-run shot in the seventh erased four shutout innings of relief from Duke freshman Drew Van Orden (2-5), who came out of the bullpen to retire 13 of the first 14 batters he faced before hitting a batter in the seventh and then giving up Gadaire’s homer. Van Orden was saddled with the loss – his first since March 29 – despite holding the Wildcats to just three hits over 4.1 frames with four strikeouts and no walks.
The Blue Devils (20-24) touched up Davidson starter Brian Russell for four runs, one earned, over 2.2 innings, but plated just two more runs until rallying for two runs in the ninth inning. Duke, down 9-5 at the time, loaded the bases in the ninth against reliever Andy Bass and scored twice, but Bass regained his form in time to retire three straight to end the threat.
Duke freshman third baseman Jordan Betts drove in three runs with a two-run single in the first inning and a game-tying RBI groundout in the third. Fellow freshman Chris Marconcini followed with a go-ahead home run – his fourth of the season – as part of a three-run effort, and senior Dennis O'Grady drove in his second RBI of the game in the ninth inning.
Davidson gave Duke an extra out to work with in the top of the first, and the Blue Devils took advantage and scored three runs to take a 3-0 lead. Wildcats shortstop Michael Zeblo misplayed a ground ball that allowed Marconcini to reach first base, and after Russell recorded a strikeout for what should have been the third out of the inning, Will Piwnica-Worms, O’Grady and Betts came through with three straight hits to put Duke on the board.
Gadaire responded for Davidson with a solo homer in the bottom of the first, and then the Wildcats took a 4-3 lead after scoring three runs in the bottom of the second. Gerow tagged an RBI double to start the scoring, and leadoff man Seth Freeman followed with a two-run single to put Davidson on top.
Duke got that run back on another RBI from Betts, who drove a groundout to shortstop with David Perkins on third base. Betts was thrown out on the play, but not before Perkins came across after opening the inning with a single. The Blue Devils had a chance to take the lead with the bases loaded and two outs, but reliever Mac Hunter entered the game and forced Angelo LaBruna to fly out to right field to end the threat.
Davidson then put itself in a position to take the lead in the bottom of the third, but Van Orden returned the favor by retiring two straight batters to strand two men on base and keep the game tied at 4-4. Van Orden entered the game with runners at the corners and one out and needed just nine pitches – seven of which were strikes – to induce a popup to shortstop and strike out Drew Cerbie to escape the jam.
Van Orden stayed hot and retired eight straight through the fifth inning. The freshman right-hander fired 22 of his 32 pitches for strikes during that span and reached a three-ball count just one time.
Marconcini put Duke ahead with a two-out home run in the top of the sixth to beak a six-inning scoreless drought for the Blue Devils. The home run – Marconcini’s team-leading fourth of the season – crashed into the trees beyond the right field wall and came against Davidson reliever Jip Richards, who took the mound in place of Hunter to start the sixth.
Gadaire matched Marconcini in the bottom of the seventh, however, when he tagged a two-out, two-run homer to put Davidson ahead 6-5. The long ball was only the second hit allowed by Van Orden, who threw four scoreless frames and retired 13 of the 14 hitters he faced before hitting Forrest Brandt with a pitch and allowing Gadaire’s long ball. Van Orden stayed in and took cleanup hitter Danny Weiss to a 1-2 count, but then the Blue Devils brought in junior David Putman who used one breaking ball to end the inning with a called strikeout.
The damage had already been done, however, and Davidson called on ace reliever Frongello to take the game into the eighth inning. Frongello retired Duke in order in the seventh and eighth, and Cerbie, Gerow and Gadaire gave the Wildcats a pair of insurance runs with a solo homer, an RBI double and an RBI single in the bottom of half of the eighth to increase the lead to 8-5.
Davidson then called on Bass to take the mound in the ninth, but the right-handed reliever struggled with his command early and loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter. He regained his form in time to retire the next three hitters he faced, but not without allowing two runs to cross the plate. With the tying run on first, however, Bass got Betts to ground out to shortstop to end the game.
Duke will resume ACC play this weekend with a three-game homestand against Virginia Tech at Durham Bulls Athletic Park this Friday through Sunday, April 29-May 1.