DURHAM, N.C. - Chris Hernandez pitched a complete game two-hitter to lead No. 11 Miami to a 3-1 win over Duke in the series opener Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Hernandez (2-2) won a pitcher's duel against Duke seniors Michael Ness (1-2) and Christopher Manno and lowered his season ERA to 1.97 with the performance. The 6-2 left-hander threw 103 pitches - 66 for strikes - and surrendered just one hit in his final six innings of work.
Miami put together a two-run third inning that proved to be the difference, as Hernandez shut out the Blue Devils (12-5, 2-2 ACC) over the remainder of the game. The Hurricanes (12-5, 2-2 ACC) got an RBI single from freshman Zeke DeVoss in that inning and pulled off a first-and-third double steal in that same frame for their second run. Third baseman Harold Martinez also added a solo home run in the eighth inning.
Ness, in his fifth start at the top of Duke's rotation, went five innings and scattered two runs on six hits against a Miami team that entered the game averaging over eight runs per game. Ness walked just one batter before handing the ball to Manno, who gave up one hit - Martinez' home run - over the remaining four innings. The home run Manno allowed in the eighth inning was the first run he gave up this season.
Duke got its lone hits from junior Jake Lemmerman, who doubled in Duke's run in the third inning, and sophomore Joe Pedevillano. Senior catcher Ryan McCurdy was hit by two more pitches in the game to bring his career total to 61, which ranks tied for 13th in NCAA history.
After two perfect innings from Ness and Hernandez to start the game, Miami scored got on the board in the top of the third and went ahead 2-0. A leadoff double by Scott Lawson started the rally before DeVoss drove in the Hurricanes' first run with an RBI single. Miami would then get runners at the corners and pull off a double-steal to send in the second run. McCurdy threw the ball down to second base on the play but was too late to get the runner. DeVoss then took off from third on the throw and beat the throw back to the plate for a 2-0 Miami lead.
Duke responded quickly, however, and took back one of those run in the bottom of the third on an RBI double by Lemmerman. With Marcus Stroman on second base following a leadoff walk and a hit batter, Lemmerman took an outside fastball to right field and dropped it just inside the right field line. Stroman hustled around third and scored easily while Lemmerman and McCurdy cruised into second and third. That would be as far as they got, however, as Hernandez bounced back to force two groundouts to escape the jam.
Both Ness and Hernandez rebounded from the third inning and each tossed scoreless fourth and fifth innings. Ness gave up three singles during that span, but got himself out of the jam both times with weak ground balls. Hernandez gave up an infield single to Pedevillano, but otherwise had little trouble getting through the bottom of Duke's lineup.
After five solid innings from Ness, Manno took over on the mound and pitched a scoreless sixth. Manno handed out two walks early in the inning, but found his groove late and struck out the last two hitters he saw to escape the jam with Miami's slim lead still at 2-1.
Unfortunately for Duke, Hernandez stayed in his groove and retired the side again in the seventh. He struck out two more batters in that frame - his fourth and fifth of the game - before Martinez gave him a two-run lead with a two-out solo home run in the top of the eighth. Martinez put the Hurricanes on top 3-1 with his homer to left-center field, which was his team-leading fifth long ball of the season.
The home run was the only blemish on Manno's four innings of work, however, as the senior southpaw retired the side in order in the top of the ninth. Duke would still not be able to touch Hernandez, however, who stayed in to wrap up his complete game by retiring the side in the bottom of the ninth.
Duke and Miami continue the series on Saturday, March 20, with a 2 p.m. meeting at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Duke will start left-hander Eric Pfisterer (2-1, 5.95 ERA) opposite Miami right-hander Jason Santana (1-1, 6.63 ERA).