DURHAM, N.C. Ė Shortstop Gabriel Saade hit a pair of home runs on Wednesday, including a walk-off two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth to lift Duke to a 4-3 win over Xavier at Jack Coombs Field. With the win, the Blue Devils improve to 15-1 on the season while the Musketeers fall to 1-12.
Duke’s 15th victory matches the team’s win total from a year ago. The Blue Devils didn’t record their 15th win of the year until the last day of the 2006 season. This is only the third time in 118 seasons of baseball that the Blue Devils have started out 15-1. The two previous 15-1 starts came in 1998 and 1939.
With Duke trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and with two outs in the inning, left fielder Alexander Hassan lined a single up the middle to keep the Blue Devils alive. Saade then stepped to the plate and crushed a 1-1 pitch to straightaway center, giving Duke the 4-3 win.
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Center fielder Jonathan Anderson had a one-out single to right to start the inning before advancing to second on a balk. Anderson then stole third and when the throw from catcher Jordan Wolf skipped under Drew Schmidt’s glove at third, Anderson trotted home with the game’s first run.
Xavier tied the ballgame at 1-1 in the top of the second on an RBI-groundout by Schmidt. The Musketeers then took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth, scoring on an unearned run.
Saade’s first home run of the game came in the bottom of the seventh. With Duke trailing 2-1, Saade turned on a 3-1 offering and blasted a solo shot to left to tie the game at 2-2.
Xavier reclaimed the lead in the top of the eighth, scoring on a passed ball to go ahead 3-2.
Saade led the Blue Devils at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs and three RBI. Anderson went 2-for-4 with a run scored, catcher Nate Freiman finished 2-for-4 with a double and Hassan was 1-for-4 with a run scored.
Anderson was the beneficiary of Saade’s walk-off home run as the lefty improved to 2-0 on the season. Anderson held Xavier to one unearned run on one hit in two innings of relief. Freshman Jonathan Foreman had a solid outing in his first career start on the mound, limiting the Musketeers to one earned run on two hits in four innings of work. Freshman Michael Ness added three scoreless innings of relief for the Blue Devils.
Duke will open up ACC play with Boston College on Friday at 3 p.m. at Jack Coombs Field. Saturday’s game against the Eagles is scheduled for 2 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale will begin at noon.