DURHAM, N.C. - Eric Pfisterer struck out a career-high 10 batters and teamed up with relievers Dennis O'Grady and Ben Grisz to record Duke's second straight shutout in a 7-0 win over Temple Saturday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Pfisterer (2-1), O'Grady and Grisz combined to strike out 18 batters while giving up just four hits, all of which were singles. Pfisterer went six innings and surrendered two hits and a pair of walks and needed just 80 pitches to lock up his second straight win.
O'Grady fanned five Temple hitters over two scoreless innings before Grisz sat down three more in the ninth inning. The 7-0 win is Duke's second straight shutout and extends a streak of 23 consecutive innings in which Blue Devil pitchers have not surrendered an earned run.
Eric Brady, Will Piwnica-Worms, Jeremy Gould and Jake Lemmerman - who made up Duke's two through five hitters - each tagged two hits and combined to go 8-for-12 with six runs and four RBI. Lemmerman and Piwnica-Worms both tripled in the game, while Gould and Brady both doubled.
Duke (6-3) scored four runs off Temple starter Ben White (0-2), who went five innings, and then scored three more off of reliever Tyler Horst, who threw two innings. The Blue Devils struck out just four times and have now struck out just 10 times in the last three games.
Pfisterer came out firing and struck out the side in the first inning. He needed just 11 pitches to mow down the top of Temple's lineup. It was also the second straight inning that a Duke pitcher retired the side in order after senior left-hander Christopher Manno struck out all three hitters he faced in the ninth inning of Friday's 3-0 win over Temple.
Duke's offense matched Pfisterer's effort by posting two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Piwnica-Worms made the rally possible with an RBI triple that scored leadoff batter Ryan McCurdy. Piwnica-Worms' triple, his fourth of the season, banged off the top of the right-center field wall before bouncing back into the outfield. It also set him up at third base where he would soon after score on a wild pitch to give Duke a 2-0 lead.
Pfisterer kept the Temple hitters off balance again in the second inning and racked up two more strikeouts without surrendering a hit. Through the first two innings, Pfisterer had thrown only 27 pitches and was just one strikeout shy of tying his career high of six.
Duke's bats stayed hot in the third and drove in two more runs to increase the lead to 4-0. Duke's first four batters reached base with Piwnica-Worms, Gould and Lemmerman all reaching with consecutive singles. Lemmerman's base knock sent in the first run of the inning and kept the bases loaded, setting the table for an RBI groundout from Saade. White bounced back to limit any further damage, however, by getting a strikeout and a groundout to strand three Blue Devils on base.
Pfisterer stayed ahead of the Owls in the top of the fourth as well, shutting out Temple for the fourth straight inning. He surrendered his first hit of the game in that frame, but responded by retiring the next three hitters in order. Included in those outs was his career-high matching sixth strikeout of the game.
The strikeouts kept coming in the fifth, as Pfisterer sat down three more to bring his total for the game to a career-high nine. After giving up a leadoff single to Taylor Juran, Pfisterer got Temple's seven, eight and nine hitters all to chase strike three in succession. The nine strikeouts were the most by a Duke pitcher this season and the most since Manno fanned 10 on May 14, 2009.
Following six shutout innings, Pfisterer was pulled in favor of O'Grady at the start of the seventh inning. O'Grady picked up where Pfisterer left off and struck out two more batters in a scoreless seventh.
The Blue Devils added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh thanks to extra-base hits from Brady, Gould and Lemmerman. Brady started the rally by stretching a left-field single into a double and then scored two at bats later when Gould sent another double into the left field gap. Following Gould's knock - which was his 39th career double - Lemmerman kept the wheels turning with an RBI triple that banged off the right field wall. Temple right-hander Tyler Horst settled down and got a strikeout for out number two after surrendering Duke's third extra-base hit of the inning, but could not get out of the inning without giving up another run. With Lemmerman on third, freshman pinch hitter Kenny Straus - in his first career at bat - beat out a ground ball to first base for an infield single that gave Lemmerman just enough time to score Duke's seventh run of the game.
O'Grady struck out three more batters in the eighth for Duke, giving the Blue Devils 15 strikeouts and their third inning of the game with three punchouts. Grisz took over in the top of the ninth and struck out three more to end the game.
The series between the Blue Devils and Owls wraps up this Sunday, March 7, at 1 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Duke will send senior right-hander Jonathan Foreman (1-0, 3.75 ERA) to the mound opposite Temple's Steve Nikorak (0-0, 0.00 ERA).