DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team split a doubleheader with Big South opponent Longwood Sunday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field. The Blue Devils extended their win streak to 10 games with a 10-4 victory in game one before falling 2-1 in the second contest.
Game 1 Duke (29-18, 15-9 ACC) totaled 16 hits en route to a 10-4 victory in the team’s first game back after exam week. Each Blue Devil in the starting lineup registered at least one hit while six recorded multiple hit games.
Senior Drew Van Orden got the start, his 11th of the season, and pitched four complete innings before giving way to the bullpen. Van Orden yielded one run on three hits, striking out seven without walking a batter.
“First off, it was a very efficient outing by Van Orden,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We wanted to get him somewhere between 50 and 60 pitches, and he threw 55 pitches. I thought Conner Stevens came in and did a great job. I thought we really squared up the baseball all day. We had 16 hits and had a bunch of other balls hit right on the button at people. And we played a tremendous game defensively.”
Longwood (20-26, 8-13 Big South) scored the first run of the day in the top of the third. Alex Owens began the frame with a double down the right field line and Colton Konvicka added a double of his own to pick up the RBI.
Sophomore Kenny Koplove drove his first career triple into the left center gap to ignite a four-run Duke rally in the bottom half. Koplove’s triple was the first of five consecutive hits for the Blue Devils as Andy Perez, Jordan Betts and Chris Marconcini added RBI singles in that span. David Perkins capped off the rally with an RBI base hit, his second single of the game.
After an Aaron Cohn leadoff single to start the fifth, Duke worked three walks to plate its fifth run. Mark Lumpa was credit with the RBI, drawing the first of four free passes between the two games.
Longwood struck for a second run in the sixth, narrowing the advantage to 5-2. Konvicka reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on a Kyrie Washington RBI base knock.
Duke’s response was immediate as the Blue Devils sent five around on six hits in the bottom half. Marconcini drove a triple to right center to score Betts, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Ryan Deitrich added a two-run double and Perez added his second RBI of the afternoon to extend the Duke advantage to 10-2 after six.
The margin remained at eight until the ninth, when Longwood capitalized on a pair of walks to score two runs. Freshman J.R. Holloway came on to minimize the damage and the rookie recorded the final two outs.
Game 2 Sophomore right-hander Michael Matuella struck out a career-high 12 batters, but Duke left eight runners on base in a 2-1 loss in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader.
Matuella (1-2) was dominant early, striking out nine of the first 14 batters he faced. He allowed just one hit over the first five innings before Longwood struck for a pair of runs on four hits in the sixth. Sophomore Nick Hendrix pitched 2.1 hitless innings in relief to keep the deficit at a single run.
“Matuella pitched great and Hendrix pitched great,” Pollard said. “[Longwood] had a couple two-out, two-strike hits and obviously we had our chances with runners in scoring position. We did not do a good job in game two with our situational offense. When we had guys at second, we didn’t move them to third. When we had guys at third, we didn’t do a good job of scoring them. That was the difference in the ball game.”
Duke scored its lone run of the game in the bottom of the first. Lumpa coaxed his 44th walk of the season to lead off the frame and advanced to second on a Betts’ base hit. Cohn followed with a two-out single through the left side to pick up the RBI, one of his three hits in game two. Cohn also added a pair of doubles, bringing his total to a team-best 17 this season.
The Blue Devils left four runners in scoring position over the final eight frames as the Longwood pitching staff stymied the Duke batters the rest of the way. Starter Aaron Myers (7-3) scattered six hits over six complete innings, while Scott Burkett and Mitchell Kuebbing combined to throw three scoreless innings to close out the ballgame.
After recording just one hit over the first five innings, Longwood put together all the offense it would need in the sixth. Matt Dickason and C.J. Roth notched back-to-back singles before Matuella fanned Brandon Delk for the second out. Pinch hitter Travis Biddix bounced an RBI base hit up the middle to tie the game at 1-1, before Alex Owens added an RBI double to put the Lancers on top.
Duke’s best chance to tie the game came in the bottom of the ninth when the Blue Devils placed runners at the corners with no one out. Kuebbing earned his third save of the season, striking out the side to secure the win.
Duke and Longwood close out the series Monday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The two teams square off at 4 p.m.