DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team will host its second ACC series of the season this weekend, as No. 16 Virginia travels to Jack Coombs Field for a three-game series beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 14. Duke and the Cavaliers will square off again on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Duke (14-2, 1-2 ACC) picked up a pair of non-conference wins this week with a 5-2 defeat of Quinnipiac and a 4-2 victory over Richmond. The wins came shortly after the Blue Devils upset No. 2 North Carolina 13-4 in the series opener last weekend, giving Duke its first ACC win of the season.
Sophomore outfielders Alex Hassan and Jeremy Gould have been on fire in recent weeks, as each boast batting averages over .420 and rank among the top-10 in the ACC in batting average, hits and runs scored. Gould’s .481 clip puts him among the top-three hitters in the conference, as do his 18 RBI and .563 on base percentage. The 6-3, 200 pound left fielder brings a 12-game hitting streak into the weekend, aided by a .650 clip (13-for-20) in two-out situations.
In addition to his offensive presence, Hassan has also been a valuable piece of Duke’s bullpen, as the 6-3, 200 pound right hander has made four relief appearances this season to pick up a pair of saves. He has allowed just one run and two hits through his five innings pitched and is holding opposing hitters to a 1.33 batting average.
Catcher Matt Williams continues to swing a hot bat for the Blue Devils, as the junior backstop raised his batting average to an even .400 after collecting multiple hits in each of his last three games. He has also gunned down three runners trying to steal second base during that span, bringing his total to four on the season.
A number of Blue Devils have stepped up to anchor Duke’s bullpen this season, as the group boasts a combined 6-0 record and five saves along with a 1.30 ERA. Hassan and Kyle Butler have each picked up a pair of saves, while senior Ryan Perry (2-0) has also emerged as one of the top relief options after putting together a 0.82 ERA and a pair of wins through 11 innings pitched. Sophomore Michael Ness (1-0) has been Duke’s most reliable reliever, as the 6-4 sophomore right-hander has pitched a bullpen-best 13.2 innings over a team-leading six appearances. Freshmen Dennis O'Grady and Ryan Knott have also combined for 7.2 innings without an earned run, while senior Ron Causey has also made a pair of scoreless appearances.
Junior Andrew Wolcott, sophomore Will Currier and freshman Grant Monroe will take the mound this weekend against the Cavaliers. The starting trio has combined for a 6-2 record and boast a collective ERA of 3.60, with Wolcott’s 1.59 mark leading the group. Wolcott has left with the lead in each of his three starting, including the game one win over North Carolina last weekend. Currier is holding batters to a .194 batting average, surrendering just 12 hits through 16.1 innings pitched. Monroe has given up just six runs over his 14.0 innings pitched and is holding opposing hitters to a .208 average with runners on base.
Virginia (13-2, 1-2 ACC) won its first 11 games of the season before dropping a pair of two-run ballgames to N.C. State 2-0 and 4-2. The Cavaliers have since defeated Radford 8-2 and Navy 11-5, and will look to balance out their 1-2 ACC record this weekend against Duke.
The Cavaliers own one of the best pitching staffs in the ACC, as the group is holding opposing teams to a .196 average and have walked just 42 compared to 155 strikeouts. Virginia’s starting trio of Jacob Thompson (2-0, 0.98 ERA), Andrew Carraway (2-1, 1.59 ERA) and Pat McAnaney (1-1, 1.89 ERA) are among the ACC’s best, and will have to stifle a Blue Devil offense this weekend that has pounded at least nine hits in 12 of 16 contests.
Virginia’s offense should not be overlooked, as the Cavaliers rank second in the ACC in batting average (.340), hits (176) and runs batted in (121) and have three batters hitting over .410. Freshman Dan Grovatt leads the squad with a .425 clip and seven doubles, while junior infielder David Adams is batting .424 with a team-leading 16 runs scored and 18 RBI. Junior Jeremy Farrell is also hitting .413 with a team-leading 10 extra-base hits, including two home runs.
With 37 stolen bases already this season, Virginia will most certainly challenge the Blue Devils on the base paths. Switch-hitting junior Greg Miclat leads the team with nine swipes, while four other Cavaliers have already picked up at least four stolen bases.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Game One: Duke – Andrew Wolcott, RHP (2-0, 1.59 ERA, 10 SO, 2 BB) vs. Virginia – Jacob Thompson, RHP (2-0, 0.98 ERA, 24 SO, 7 BB)
Game Two: Duke – Will Currier, RHP (2-1, 3.31 ERA, 8 SO, 4 BB) vs. Virginia – Pat McAnaney, LHP (1-1, 1.89 ERA, 24 SO, 4 BB)
Game Three: Duke – Grant Monroe, RHP (2-1, 3.86, 5 SO, 5 BB) vs. Virginia – Andrew Carraway, RHP (2-1, 1.59 ERA, 21 SO, 3 BB)
On Deck For Duke
The Blue Devils will conclude their 21-game homestand next week with a two-game series against Hartford on March 18-19. Duke will then travel to Atlanta, Ga., for a three-game conference series against Georgia Tech before returning home for a March 25 meeting with Brown.