With Duke trailing 8-7 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, McCurdy came to the plate with the bases loaded and lifted a bloop single into shallow left field to send in the tying and go-ahead runs. The two-run single was part of a five-run eighth inning that saw Duke score four runs with two outs to erase an 8-5 deficit.
Blue Devil freshman Marcus Stroman scored the go-ahead run from second base on McCurdy's single and then took the mound to record the final two outs and secure the win. With Clemson base runners on second and third and just one out, Stroman struck out two straight Tigers to secure his third save of the year. The 5-9, 180-pound two-way player also doubled and scored two runs in the win.
Duke (18-12, 4-9 ACC) got an early two-run homer from senior Will Currier, who has now homered three times in the past four games. Currier hit in the three-spot in the batting order for the second straight game and responded with his third straight multi-hit outing. During his current five-game hitting streak, the 6-4, 215-pound designated hitter leads Duke with a .429 batting average.
Clemson (22-9, 9-4 ACC) scored early and often and built a 7-4 lead by the fifth inning. The Tigers got a pair of three-run homers from John Nester and Kyle Parker during that early outburst to back starter Casey Harman, who held Duke without a run in five of his first six innings. Harman left the game after seven complete innings with a 7-5 lead only to see the Blue Devils storm back against the Clemson bullpen.
Duke's bullpen, meanwhile, scattered two runs over the final four innings of the game. Junior right-hander Ryan Knott (2-0) grabbed the win after entering the game with two outs in the top of the eighth and recording the last out. He cleaned up for sophomore Ben Grisz, who scattered two hits and one run over 2.2 innings in relief.
Clemson took an early 3-0 lead in the top of the second on Nester's three-run blast that cleared the 32-foot wall in left field. With two men on and two outs, Nester fouled off two straight two-strike offerings from Duke starter Christopher Manno before tagging him for his second homer of the season.
Currier returned the favor for the Blue Devils, however, and mashed a two-run homer in the bottom of the third to cap a four-run inning to put Duke on top 4-3. The bottom of Duke's lineup started the rally when Eric Brady, Stroman and Joe Pedevillano combined for three straight hits to lead off the inning. Stroman's double put two men in scoring position to set the table for an RBI single from Pedevillano and a sacrifice fly from McCurdy. Harman then sat down two straight Blue Devils, but saw his first offering to Currier hammered over the left field wall for the senior's fifth home run of the year.
Clemson tied the game almost immediately in the top of the fourth, however, thanks to a sacrifice fly from Miller. The Tigers took advantage of a leadoff walk drawn by Parker to start the inning and moved him all the way to third on a one-out single from John Hinson. Miller then stepped to the plate and lifted his fly ball deep enough into left field to score Parker and tie the game at 4-4.
The Tigers kept that momentum going in the top of the fifth and got a three-run homer from Parker to reclaim a 7-4 lead. Parker's three-run blast also came with two outs and cleared the same spot over the left field wall. The home run was the ACC-leading 12th of the season for Parker.
Duke's four-run third inning proved to be the only blemish on Harman's first six innings of work as he shut Duke out in five of those frames. Duke got to him again in the bottom of the seventh, however and cut the deficit to 7-5 on another sacrifice fly from McCurdy.
Duke, meanwhile, went to the bullpen in the sixth inning and brought in Grisz, who shut out the Tigers over his first two innings. Grisz ran into trouble in the top of the eighth after dishing out two walks, including one two-out pass. Ryan Knott then entered the game to face Epps and surrendered an RBI single before getting out of the inning.
Clemson also went to the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth, but that proved to be the window of opportunity Duke needed to storm back and reclaim the lead. The Blue Devils scored five runs - including four with two outs - off of relievers David Haselden and Alex Frederick to take a 10-8 lead heading into the ninth inning. Three straight singles from Currier, Jeremy Gould and Will Piwnica-Worms started the rally before McCurdy put Duke ahead with his two-run single and Jake Lemmerman added another RBI base knock for insurance.
With the middle of Clemson's lineup coming to bat, Duke called on Stroman to record the final three outs. The freshman right-hander got one quick out by forcing three-hitter Jeff Schaus to foul out to third base, but then ran into some trouble when he walked Parker and gave up a single to Wilson Boyd. With one out and men on first and second, Hinson then ripped a ground ball that got under Brady's glove at second base and rolled into the outfield for an RBI double. The double left men on second and third, still with one out and Duke holding on to a 10-9 lead. Following a visit from pitching coach Sean Snedeker, however, Stroman buckled down and struck out Miller and Nester to end the game.
Duke will now have a shot to secure the series win in game two on Saturday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Duke junior Dennis O'Grady (0-2, 4.26 ERA) will start opposite Clemson right-hander Scott Weismann (3-1, 3.57 ERA).