DURHAM, N.C. Ė Nate Freiman hammered two home runs and drove in a combined nine RBI to lead the Duke baseball team to a pair of wins over Iona Sunday afternoon to clinch a four-game sweep over the Gaels at Jack Coombs Field.
Freiman went 5-for-9 over the two-game spread and scored four runs to lead Duke to wins of 10-1 and 17-5 over Iona. Three of his five hits went for extra bases, including a 2-for-4 two-home run effort in game one on Sunday. Freiman drove in seven total runs in the day’s opener with two three-run homers and a sacrifice fly and followed with a pair of RBI in a 3-for-5 outing in game two. After four games, Freiman is batting .389 with a team-high nine RBI.
Sunday’s double header sweep over Iona (0-4) followed another two-game sweep over the Gaels on Saturday in which Duke won 10-2 and 10-0. Duke (4-0) outscored Iona 47-8 over the four-game spread while topping 10 runs in every game. The Blue Devils batted .369 for the series while holding Iona’s hitters to a .212 clip. Duke’s pitching staff now boasts a collective ERA of 2.00 while seven of 11 Blue Devil pitchers went at least one inning and now hold individual ERAs of 0.00.
Sophomore outfielder Alex Hassan had a tremendous series as well, going 8-for-15 with a home run, seven RBI, nine runs scored and 6-for-7 in stolen base attempts. Hassan had multiple hits in three of the four games and scored at least one run in each contest. Designated hitter and catcher Kyle Kreick matched Hassan with an 8-for-15 performance as well while driving in six runs and scoring eight. Four Blue Devils homered in the series, including Freiman (2), Hassan, and sophomores Jeremy Gould and Gabriel Saade. Both Saade and Freiman had four extra base hits, as Saade drove three doubles in addition to his leadoff long ball in the second game of the series. Saade and Hassan each contributed nine runs for the series, while Saade also came up safe in all four of his stolen base attempts.
Game one saw a dominant effort from a pair of Blue Devil pitchers, as freshman Grant Monroe (1-0) picked up his first collegiate victory and sophomore Jonathan Foreman went four innings for his first career save. In his first career start, Monroe struck out three batters and gave up no more than one hit in each inning. Foreman took over to start the sixth inning and cruised through four complete innings, giving up just one hit while striking out three.
Duke’s bullpen was equally as effective in game two, as sophomores Michael Seander (1-0), Michael Ness and Hassan combined for 5.2 innings of one-run baseball. Seander went 2.2 innings and picked up the win, while Ness contributed a pair of innings while allowing just one hit and striking out three. Hassan closed out the series with a single inning without allowing a hit.
Junior catcher Matt Williams also gunned down his first runner of the season from behind the plate, catching Iona outfielder Chris Leahy, who was trying to steal second base. Williams started two games behind the plate and went 5-for-8 with three runs and an RBI from the no. 2 spot in the lineup. He also laid down a sacrifice bunt and went errorless in 13 defensive opportunities.
Game One: Freiman Homers Twice And Drives In Seven To Lead Duke To 10-1 Victory
Duke got on the board first in game one on a sacrifice fly ball from Hassan in the third inning. Hassan’s drive to deep center field allowed Ryan McCurdy to tag from third base after the sophomore third baseman dropped a bloop single into left field to lead off the inning. Williams and Saade also helped move McCurdy into scoring position for Hassan, as Saade drew a walk and Williams moved both runners up with a well-placed sacrifice bunt.
Duke turned four hits into a five-run fifth inning, which was capped by a three-run homer by Freiman. After Ryan McCurdy was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, Saade roped a 2-1 fastball down the left field line for a double that scored McCurdy from first base. Williams followed with an infield single up the middle to put runners at the corners for Hassan, who connected on a 3-2 fastball for an RBI single. Freiman then mashed DiNuzzo’s second offering over the left field fence to clear the bases and give Duke a 6-1 lead.
Duke continued to pour on the runs with a three-run sixth inning that put the Blue Devils ahead 9-1. All three runs came with two outs on the board, as Williams started a two-out rally that ended with another three-run bomb by Freiman. Williams knocked a single to right field and advanced to third when Hassan followed with a double. Freiman then came to the plate and launched his second home run in his second straight at bat to clear the bases.
Freiman added another RBI in the bottom of the eighth for his seventh of the game. A deep sacrifice fly by the 6-8 first baseman drove in freshman Dennis O'Grady from third base after the Duke newcomer knocked the first pitch he saw into right center field for his first collegiate hit.
Game 2: Hassan Drives In Four And Kreick Goes 4-for-5 In 17-5 Blowout
Hassan went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season, while Kreick went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and a pair of RBI. Hassan accounted for seven of Duke’s runs, while Saade contributed three runs and a stolen base in a 3-for-5 outing from the leadoff spot.
Both Freiman and Gould also had three hits in game two, while freshman shortstop Jake Lemmerman picked up his first career multi-hit game.
Duke picked up both runs in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 2-2. Designated hitter Jonathan Nicolla sent in the first with an RBI double, while Lemmerman followed with a two-out RBI single to left center to tie the game. Kreick drew a walk to lead off the inning and scored all the way from first when Nicolla bombed a deep fly ball that landed on the warning track in straightaway center field. Following a flyout to left field for the second out, Lemmerman came to the plate and hit a laser into left center to send in Nicolla from second base.
The tied score did not last long, however, as a leadoff home run by Salerno sparked a third inning rally for Iona that put the Gaels on top 4-2. Following the solo shot down the left field line, Walraven reached with a base hit up the middle and scored on a double to left center field by Andrew Passerelle. Following the three consecutive hits, however, Bunder retired the next three batters to minimize the damage to two runs.
Duke responded again in the bottom of the third to score five runs and take a 7-4 lead. Hassan tied up the score with a two-run homer to left center field that sent in Saade, who reached base by legging out a bunt down the third base line. Freiman followed with a double to the left field corner and moved to third on a groundout to the right side by Kreick. A passed ball allowed Freiman to score, and following a walk to Jeremy Gould,
After a pair of singles put two Gaels on base, Bunder handed the ball to Freshman All America pitcher Michael Seander for the sophomore’s first appearance of the season. Seander inherited runners on first and second base and walked the first batter he faced on a full count. After shaking off the rust, Seander forced Walraven to hit a dribbler in front of the plate, which he fielded and threw to Kreick for the force out at the plate. With the bases still loaded and two outs on the board, Seander faced off against
The Blue Devils added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Kreick. Kreick’s base knock through the left side drove in Hassan, who put himself in scoring position after drawing a walk and advancing to third on a stolen base that resulted in a throwing error by the catcher.
The Blue Devils put themselves in position to blow the game open in the bottom half of the fifth, but clutch pitching by Shawn Walsh kept the score intact at 8-5. Lemmerman opened the inning by reaching base on an infield throwing error and moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by McCurdy. A well-executed hit-and-run by Gabriel Saade resulted in runners at the corners with one out, but Walsh struck out Hassan and forced Freiman to ground out to escape the inning unharmed.
Duke went ahead 9-5 in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Gould that followed a leadoff double by Kreick. With a four-run lead in hand, Duke went to reliever Mike Ness in the top of the seventh, and the sophomore got through the inning facing the minimum with some defensive help from his infield. After giving up a leadoff single,
Four straight Blue Devil hits led to two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to give Duke an 11-5 lead. Saade started the rally with a one-out double and scored on a base knock by Hassan. Freiman then drove in Hassan with another single, which Kreick followed with his third base hit of the game for good measure.
In the bottom of the eighth, Duke added six more runs to go ahead 17-5. After loading the bases, Freiman, Kreick and Gould all pounded out consecutive RBI singles to finish game two with two RBI each. With the 12-run lead in hand, Hassan took the mound for his first appearance of the season and shut down the Gaels without allowing a hit to clinch the win.
Next up for the Blue Devils is a two-game home series against Alabama A&M at Jack Coombs Field. The teams will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. and will continue on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the same time.