|No. 24 Duke vs. No. 13 Louisville
|When: March 15-17|
|Where: Durham Bulls Athletic Park|
|Listen Live: The Duke Sports Network|
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke looks to carry its momentum into the weekend, welcoming Louisville to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for a three-game series and another top-25 matchup.
The No. 24 Blue Devils square off with their second ranked opponent of the week, after defeating No. 14 East Carolina Tuesday afternoon. Duke and No. 13 Louisville are set for a 4 p.m. first pitch Friday afternoon, while Saturday’s and Sunday’s game are both set for a 1 p.m. start at the DBAP. Duke will turn to junior left-hander Graeme Stinson for the start in Friday's series opener, while sophomore Bryce Jarvis is set to toe the mound in game two of the series. Junior left-hander Bill Chillari will get the start for the Blue Devils in the series finale Sunday.
Duke and Louisville will meet for the eighth time in program history this weekend as the Blue Devils open up their home conference slate. The Cardinals hold the series advantage over the Blue Devils with a 2-5 mark, including a 1-2 mark over Duke in Durham. Most recently, the Blue Devils and the Cardinals matched up in the 2018 ACC Conference Tournament, with Louisville coming away with a 9-2 victory. The two teams last met in the regular season in 2017, when the Blue Devils traveled to Lousiville for a three-game series. Duke took the series opener, 5-3, before falling in the final two games of the series. Head coach Chris Pollard holds a 2-5 mark against Louisville.
Hot Start for the Devils
The Blue Devils are off to a hot start in the 2019 campaign, holding a 12-5 record across their first 17 games. Duke has been perfect across each of its four weekend series this season, including a sweep over Lehigh, series wins over Big Ten opponents in Northwestern and Penn State, and a series victory over Virginia. This past weekend, the Blue Devils traveled to Charlottesville for their conference series of the season, coming away with a pair of victories to claim the series. After inclement weather forced the two teams to move Friday’s series opener to Saturday, Virginia took game one, 11-3, before Duke bounced back to sweep Sunday’s doubleheader to secure the series win. The Blue Devils carried their momentum from the weekend into this week, defeating No. 14 East Carolina, 7-2, Tuesday afternoon. The win snapped Duke’s 17-game losing streak to the Pirates, and marked the Blue Devil’s first victory over ECU since 1998.
Welcome to K-Ville
The Blue Devil pitching staff has been impressive through the first 17 games, recording 200 strikeouts to lead the ACC, 12 more than any other school in the conference, while ranking fourth in the nation. The Blue Devils also rank fourth in the country in strikeouts per nine innings with 11.7, and rank second in the league in hits allowed per nine innings at mark of 6.84 (117 H/154.0 IP). Nine Duke pitchers have recorded double-digit strikeout totals so far this season, with sophomore Bryce Jarvis leading the way with 24 strikeouts, while junior left-hander Graeme Stinson and senior Hunter Davis tie for second with 23 punchouts apiece.
Senior co-captain Kennie Taylor has proved to be a leader across the 2019 campaign, both on and off the field for this year’s team. Taylor, the squad’s starting center fielder, leads the club in multiple statistical categories, including hits (27), doubles (7), RBI (18) and runs (19), while tying for the team lead in home runs (3) and stolen bases (6). His 27 hits place him atop the ACC heading into this week’s matchup, while being tied for third in doubles. The Tampa, Fla., native has reached base safely in every contest this season, and owns a reached-base streak of 24 games, dating back to last season.
Five Blue Devils currently own double-digit reached base streaks, highlighted by senior Kennie Taylor’s 24 game reached base streak which dates back to last season. Junior Erikson Nichols owns a 17-game reached base streak, reaching base safely in every contest this season, while sophomore Michael Rothenberg has a 14-game reached base streak. The duo of sophomore Chris Crabtree and freshman Ethan Murray each own a 10-game reached base streak. Freshman Rudy Maxwell is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak, which serves as a team-long, while Nichols has an eight-game hitting streak entering this weekend.
This Weekend at the DBAP
March 15 marks National Shoe the World Day. Friday, March 15 through Sunday, the Duke baseball team will hold a shoe donation drive, encouraging all fans to bring a new and/or gently used pair of shoes to donate Durham Community. Those who participate by donating a pair of shoes in this shoe drive will receive free admission. Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17, at the ballpark. Themed cookies and Duke Baseball SPD themed decals will be available to fans at the marketing table located in front of section 204 while supplies last. Inflatables, carnival games, face painters, balloon artists and more for all fans in attendance. Kids 12 and under are able to stick around for a chance to run the bases postgame.