CARY, N.C. - Seniors Michael Ness and Jonathan Foreman combined for a four-hit shutout as Duke edged UNC Greensboro 1-0 on Wednesday evening at the USA Baseball National Training Complex for the Blue Devils' fourth shutout of the year.
Ness started and fired five scoreless innings before Foreman (2-0) entered in the sixth and was near-perfect over the final four frames. Foreman retired the first 11 batters he faced and struck out six without issuing a walk. The senior right-hander struck out five straight hitters at one point while firing just under 75 percent of his pitches for strikes.
Ness also pitched without giving up a walk while striking out four and scattering three singles. Duke's defense backed up both pitchers with another errorless showing, marking the 18th time this season that the Blue Devils have not committed an error.
Junior Jake Lemmerman drove in Duke's lone run with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lemmerman took a 1-0 fastball to opposite field to score sophomore Joe Pedevillano, who also singled and stole two bases on consecutive pitches to put himself in scoring position.
UNC Greensboro used four arms in the pitcher's duel. Starter Matt Parish threw three shutout frames before Tyler Holstegge entered the game and threw two shutout frames in the fourth and fifth. Holstegge faltered in the sixth, however, and surrendered Lemmerman's RBI single before Greg Smith and Warren Slack held the Blue Devils scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Duke freshman Marcus Stroman also tagged two hits from the leadoff spot, but was stranded both times.
Ness cruised through his first five innings, surrendering just one hit through his first four frames before allowing a pair of two-out hits in the fifth. Even with two men on in the fifth, however, Ness kept his composure and induced a groundout to escape the jam.
Duke had just as much trouble against UNC Greensboro's arms, however, as Parish and Holstegge combined for five shutout frames as well. The Spartan duo allowed just one hit - a leadoff single by Stroman on the first pitch of the game - without walking a batter.
The Blue Devils finally broke up the scoreless streak and took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Lemmerman. Lemmerman had the second of two hits in the inning to score Pedevillano, who started the rally with a single and then stole second and third on consecutive pitches.
Foreman, who entered the game at the start of the sixth inning, protected that lead by striking out the side in the seventh. The senior right-hander got two batters looking and one swinging with just 14 pitches in that inning.
Foreman struck out his fifth straight batter to start the eighth inning and was just one out away from finishing a perfect four innings in the ninth. UNC Greensboro catcher Ed Jayjack spoiled that chance, however, with a two-out base hit into right field that just escaped the grasp of a leaping Stroman at second base. The Spartans swapped Jayjack for pinch runner Drew Gehringer at first base with two outs and tried to sneak him into scoring position, but catcher Ryan McCurdy gunned him down at second base for his 13th runner caught stealing of the year.
McCurdy, who played third base for the first eight innings of the game, donned the catcher's gear in the final inning just in time to catch Gehringer. The senior utility player has now caught 13-of-38 runners stealing this year for a 65.8 percent opponent stolen base success rate.
Duke will now resume ACC play this weekend with a three-game home set versus No. 6 Florida State at the USA Baseball National Training Complex on April 16-18. The Blue Devils, who took two of three games from No. 11 Clemson last weekend, have not faced Florida State since 2007.