DAVIDSON, N.C. – Chase Fitzpatrick drove in the winning run with a walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning to lead Davidson to a 3-2 win over Duke Tuesday evening at Wilson Field.
Fitzpatrick laced his two-out double just inside the left field foul line to score pinch runner Calvin Sigelbaum from first base after Sigelbaum pinch run for Danny Weiss, who opened the two-out rally with a single. The consecutive hits capped a come-from-behind win for the Wildcats (18-25), who did not score until the bottom of the eighth when they tied the game at 2-2.
Fitzpatrick was also responsible for sending in the tying run in the eighth inning after he hit a fielder’s choice ground ball up the middle with the bases loaded. With a 2-0 lead at the time, Duke had no choice but to concede a run on Fitzpatrick’s ground ball while attempting to turn two, but let the tying run across the plate after committing a throwing error on the back half of the attempted double play.
The two-run eighth inning erased seven shutout innings from four Duke pitchers, who held the Wildcats to three hits and two walks during the first seven frames. Starter Christopher Manno went one inning, while Andrew Wolcott, Dennis O'Grady and Michael Ness each followed in succession with two shutout innings apiece. Closer and right fielder Alex Hassan took the mound in the bottom of the eighth and surrendered two runs on the costly error, while Kyle Butler (2-1) gave up the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 10th. The loss was the first of Butler’s career, breaking a streak of 30 straight appearances without losing a game for the senior right-hander.
Duke outhit Davidson 11-7 with shortstop Jake Lemmerman and center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms each logging two hits and an RBI. Duke (29-18, 12-12 ACC) got six of those hits off of Davidson starter Ryan Overcash, but managed just one run against him in his 6.0 complete innings. The Wildcats then used Mike Frongello, Brian Russell and Matt Webb (4-2) to get through the remaining four innings with Webb coming into get the final out in the top of the 10th just before Fitzpatrick won the game for Davidson.
After a scoreless first inning, Lemmerman put Duke on the board with an RBI single that he dropped into left field. Lemmerman poked his one-out single just in front of Davidson left fielder Sam Payne, which drove in Hassan from second base. Hassan, who entered the game with 15 doubles, tagged his 16th two-bagger of the year down the left field line to put himself in scoring position for Lemmerman.
In accordance with the pre-determined split for the Blue Devils, Manno handed the ball over to Wolcott after getting through a scoreless first inning. After inheriting the 1-0 lead, Wolcott needed just seven pitches to retire the side in order. Wolcott gave up a double to leadoff batter Zach Kayne in the third inning, but was otherwise effective in his second frame to keep the 1-0 lead intact.
A single from outfielder Jeremy Gould in the top of the fourth was Duke’s lone offensive highlight for the next two innings. The base knock extended Gould’s team-leading hit streak to 10 games and was his team-leading 66th of the year. Overcash quickly erased the single, however, by picking Gould off at first base for the second out of the inning.
The one-run second inning was the only blemish on Overcash’s first five innings of work. He needed 80 pitches to get through those frames, but surrendered just four hits and no walks during that span. Duke, meanwhile, used its third pitcher of the game in the fourth and fifth innings in O’Grady, who did not give up a hit in his two innings. He got some help from his defense in the fifth when Piwnica-Worms made a diving grab on a tailing line drive from Drew Gadaire that would have sent in the tying run had it fallen in for a hit.
Duke had a chance to increase the 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth after stringing together consecutive one-out singles, but had their rally killed by Overcash, who got two clutch outs to end the threat. Williams and Freiman both struck base hits to right field with one out on the board to start the rally with Duke’s cleanup hitter Gould coming to the plate. Overcash settled down just in time, however, and got Gould to chase a two-strike fastball out of the zone for the second out. That brought up Hassan, who mashed a deep fly ball to straight-away center field that fell just short of a home run and into the glove of Brett Shore, who caught it on the warning track for the third out.
After O’Grady gave Duke two shutout innings in relief of Wolcott and Manno, Duke went to the right-handed Ness to get through the bottom of the sixth. Ness picked up right where O’Grady left off, sitting down all three Wildcats he faced with 10 pitches, including an inning-ending strikeout.
After a four-inning scoreless drought, Duke finally gave its staff some more run support in the top of the seventh on an RBI single from Piwnica-Worms. Piwnica-Worms’ single was the second of the inning for Duke, which also got a leadoff single from Lemmerman to start the inning. Lemmerman would advance to second on a dribbler back to the mound by Sherlock before Piwnica-Worms worked the count full and laced a one-out single through the right side sent in a run and put Duke ahead 2-0.
Ness stayed on for another inning in the bottom of the seventh and struck out the first two batters he faced. He gave up a two-out single to Shore that was the Wildcats’ first hit since the third inning, but then fielded a ground ball hit right back at him for the third out. The scoreless outing lowered Ness’ ERA to 2.18 for the season, which is the second-lowest among all ACC pitchers who have thrown at least 20.0 innings.
Duke called on Hassan to take the mound in the bottom of the eighth with Duke still ahead 2-0, but the Wildcat offense finally broke out with a two-run inning that started with consecutive singles from Kayne and Gadaire. A walk to three-hitter Danny Weiss would load the bases with no outs for Chase Fitzpatrick, who rolled a ground ball up the middle. Lemmerman cut it off and gloved a tough hop near second base where he flipped it to Gabriel Saade for the force out. Saade tried to complete the turn, but short-hopped his throw to first base where it careened off of Freiman’s glove into foul territory. Kayne was able to score from third on the play, but the throwing error to first base also allowed Gadaire to score the tying run. Hassan was able to put the play behind him and retire the next two batters, but the damage had already been done with the score at 2-2 heading into the ninth inning.
Ryan McCurdy knocked a two-out single in the top of the ninth, but Duke was not able to move him past first base as Russell ended the threat by getting Saade to fly out to right field. Davidson, however, was unable to muster another hit against Hassan, who struck out two in a perfect ninth inning.
Duke started another two-out rally in the top of the 10th on a single by Gould, but had their rally cut short by Webb, who entered the game to face Hassan with the go-ahead run on first base. Webb got Hassan to slap a ground ball to Kayne, who fielded the ball at shortstop and flipped it to his second baseman to end the inning.
Butler took the mound for Duke in the bottom of the 10th and made quick work of the first two batters he faced. He had trouble getting past Weiss, however, who laced Butler’s 0-1 offering through the left side for a single. Butler threw two pitches to Fitzpatrick before Sigelbaum replaced Weiss on first base. Just one pitch later, Fitzpatrick pulled a line drive down the third base line that just got past a diving McCurdy and dropped just inside the foul line for a fair ball. Sigelbaum rounded second as the ball rolled to the fence on the left field line and stepped on third before Gould was able to pick the ball up. Gould came up firing to Lemmerman, who cut off the throw and gunned it toward the plate, but Sigelbaum was already sliding in for the winning run before the ball got to Williams.
Duke will have a chance to avenge the loss and reach the 30-win plateau on Wednesday, May 6, with a noon double header at Presbyterian in Clinton, S.C. Wednesday’s opener will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1941.