DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team defeated Big South foe Longwood 6-1 in the series finale Monday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, securing the program’s first 30-win season since 2009.
Sophomore Kenny Koplove drove in a pair of runs while redshirt senior Ryan Deitrich belted a two-run homer in the fourth to pace the Blue Devil offense. Duke (30-18, 15-9) also received solid pitching performances from junior Trent Swart, junior Andrew Istler and senior Robert Huber to hold Longwood (20-27, 8-13 Big South) to a lone run in the first inning.
A leadoff walk to Lancer centerfielder Colton Konvikca proved costly in the first as Konvicka scored on a Scott Burkett RBI double. The run ended Swart’s streak of 17.0 scoreless innings, while Burkett’s double was just the third extra base hit allowed by the Duke left-hander this season.
After the early setback, Swart buckled down the rest of the way and allowed just one Longwood hit over the next three innings. The Carlsbad, Calif., native retired eight in a row and 10 of the final 11 batters he faced before giving way to Istler (8-5), who pitched four hitless frames in the win.
Senior Mike Rosenfeld worked a walk with two outs in the second in what proved to be a crucial at bat for the Blue Devils. Deitrich followed with a double, his eighth of the season, off the Blue Monster to establish runners in scoring position for Koplove. The Duke shortstop delivered a two-run single, lacing the first pitch of the at bat to centerfield.
“It was a great job of our club with two outs,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “It’s kind of a backbreaker type inning because [Longwood] just had a double play … looks like they’re about to get off the field and keep the lead. Then Rosenfeld grinds out an at bat, Deitrich hits a double and Koplove comes up and finishes it off. So it’s a big momentum-shifting inning.”
Duke padded its lead in the fourth, sending three runs across to take a 5-1 advantage. Rosenfeld roped an RBI single to score Aaron Cohn, who led off the frame with a base hit of his own before taking second on a wild pitch. Deitrich then stepped to the plate and launched a ball off the awning of the Tobacco Road Café, good for his fifth home run of the season.
Koplove doubled to lead off the seventh and ultimately scored on a Jordan Betts RBI single to provide the Blue Devils with a final insurance run.
The run support was more than ample for Istler as the right-hander faced the minimum in all but one inning. Huber then pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the victory.
“That was as well as Istler has thrown the ball all year,” Pollard said. “His stuff was really electric. His velocity was up as good as it’s been this year. But the thing I want to point out is the toughness by Trent Swart. Today he’s out there starting, and he didn’t feel great, but he showed a tremendous amount of toughness.”
The Blue Devils return to action this weekend as they play host to Miami Friday-Sunday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.