CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Duke will wrap up the 2011 regular season this Thursday through Friday, May 19-21, with a three-game series at No. 15 Miami.
In Duke’s last trip to Alex Rodriguez Park in Coral Gables, Fla., in 2009, all three games were decided by two runs or less. Miami used a walkoff double from Scott Lawson to win the opener 5-4, and Duke responded with a 2-0 win in game two that featured a combined shutout from All-ACC first team pitcher Andrew Wolcott and reliever Michael Ness. The Hurricanes got a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth in game three from John Hagerty, however, to clinch the series.
Duke’s offense has awakened since the university’s exam period ended. In Duke’s last six games since the break, the Blue Devils are averaging 10 hits per game while batting .293. The Blue Devil pitching staff also benefited from the break, holding opponents to a .218 batting average and just 3.67 runs per game since May 8.
Two of Duke’s hottest hitters are senior two-way infielder Dennis O'Grady and freshman infielder Matt Berezo. O’Grady leads all Duke regulars with a .361 average over the last 12 games, and Berezo is on a seven-game hitting streak in which he is batting .522 since joining the starting lineup seven games ago.
Those two will prove to be a tough test for Miami’s pitching staff, which is one of the best in the ACC. The Hurricanes own a 3.37 team ERA, rank fourth in the league with 8.60 strikeouts per game and third with just 3.13 walks per game. Opposing hitters are batting just .228 against Miami pitchers this year.
Leading that group is Friday starter Bryan Radziewski (8-2, 3.10 ERA), who heads a starting trio that also includes Saturday starter Eric Whaley (7-4, 2.76 ERA) and Sunday starter E.J. Encinosa (4-5, 3.16 ERA). Radziewski, a freshman left-hander, has struck out 72 batters in 78.1 innings, walked just 22 and is holding opponents to a .222 batting average. In his 78 innings of work, he has yet to throw a wild pitch.
The Hurricanes are one of the ACC’s most aggressive teams on the base paths and have come up successful in 88 of their 111 stolen base attempts. Sophomore outfielder Zeke DeVoss leads the ACC with 28 steals in 35 attempts, and Nathan Melendres ranks just behind him with 20 steals. Rony Rodriguez is Miami’s biggest power threat with nine home runs, 12 doubles and a .558 slugging percentage.
Game one of the series starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, and game two follows at 7 p.m. on Friday. The regular season finale for both teams starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday.