DURHAM, N.C. – Left fielder Alexander Hassan scored on a squeeze play to break a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the sixth and Duke added a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, overcoming an early 4-1 deficit to defeat Temple, 7-4, on Tuesday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field. With the win, the Blue Devils improve to 14-1 on the season while the Owls fall to 2-8.
Duke’s 14-1 record matches the program’s second-best 15-game start in the last 25 years. The Blue Devils are also among other teams receiving votes in both the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches’ poll and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30 poll.
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Center fielder Jonathan Anderson drew a one-out walk to start the inning. After Anderson stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball, the senior scored on a failed pickoff attempt for the game’s first run.
Temple responded with a four-run second inning to take a 4-1 lead. The Owls received RBI-singles from designated hitter Lenny DelGrippo and catcher Kyle Obal before scoring on a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly by shortstop Ryan Weber. With the Owls threatening to add to their lead in the second, freshman Will Currier came on in relief and got the Blue Devils out of a bases-loaded jam to end the inning.
Duke added another run in the bottom half of the second to cut Temple’s lead to 4-2. Designated hitter Jeremy Gould singled to left to begin the inning before advancing to third on a double down the left field line by Hassan. Shortstop Gabriel Saade then lined an RBI-single to right to score Gould.
The Blue Devils scored twice in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 4-4. After Anderson reached on a bunt single, right fielder Jimmy Gallagher singled through the right side to give Duke runners at first and second. Anderson and Gallagher then executed a double steal to give the Blue Devils two runners in scoring position. First baseman Nate Freiman followed with an RBI-infield single, scoring Anderson and moving Gallagher to third. Catcher Matt Williams capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to right to score Gallagher.
Duke reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth. With Hassan on first, second baseman Kyle Butler lined a one-out double to left to give the Blue Devils runners at second and third. Third baseman Jonathan Foreman then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt on the first pitch he saw to score Hassan on the squeeze play, giving Duke a 5-4 advantage.
The Blue Devils added a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to extend their lead to 7-4. Gallagher drew a one-out walk to begin the inning. Freiman then singled to right where the ball went under Sean Barksdale’s glove, allowing Gallagher to score and Freiman to advance all the way to third. Two batters later, Freiman scored on another Temple error, giving Duke the three-run lead.
Freiman went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored to pace the Blue Devils at the plate. Butler finished 2-for-3 with a double, Gould was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored and Anderson went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Williams, Saade and Foreman all added one RBI apiece while Gallagher scored a pair of runs and Hassan scored one.
Currier (1-0) picked up his first career win with an outstanding relief appearance, holding Temple to one hit in 5.1 scoreless innings. Freshman Michael Seander then held the Owls scoreless over the next two innings to earn his ACC-leading fourth save of the season. Seander’s four saves also tie for the 10th-best single-season output in Duke history.
The Blue Devils will host Xavier tomorrow at 3 p.m. before opening up ACC play with Boston College on Friday at Jack Coombs Field.