DURHAM, N.C. – Junior Chris Proctor’s first career home run highlighted Duke’s five-run first as the Blue Devils completed the sweep of Cornell with a 7-2 victory Sunday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Duke’s eighth-straight victory puts the Blue Devils at 9-2 on the year while Cornell dropped to 0-6.
After the first four Blue Devils reached base, Proctor lifted a 3-2 curveball over the right field wall to cap Duke’s five-run first. The Blue Devil pitching staff limited the Big Red to two hits while Duke totaled 11 hits, adding single runs in the fourth and sixth frames.
Jimmy Herron began the game on a high note, ripping a leadoff triple to the right center gap. Herron ended Sunday with three extra base hits, adding doubles in the fourth and sixth. For the weekend, Herron hit .545 (6-for-11) with four doubles, a triple and four runs scored.
Zack Kone knocked an RBI single to drive in Herron for the game’s first run. After Griffin Conine walked and Michael Rothenberg singled, Jack Labosky picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly to left. Proctor’s longball then proceeded to clear the bases.
“We did a good job of jumping out in the first,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Something we hadn’t done a lot so far this year. We strung together really good offense in the first.”
Cornell starter Seth Urbon (0-1) settled down after the first, going 5.2 innings in the loss. The younger brother of former Cornell and Duke pitcher Kellen Urbon surrendered seven runs on nine hits in this first start of the season.
“Credit Urbon; he did a great job of settling down and got better as the game went on and really gave them a good start. I thought both teams pitched well except if you take away the bottom of the first. Really well played ballgame by both sides.”
Duke’s Mitch Stallings (1-0) allowed one run on two hits in five innings to earn the win. Three freshmen relievers – Bryce Jarvis, Thomas Girard and Josh Nifong – combined to allow one unearned run the rest of the way. Jarvis fanned five in two scoreless frames before Girard pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. A Duke fielding error led to an unearned run in the ninth before Nifong induced a grounder to first to end the game.
“Mitch [Stallings] is still figuring out his delivery,” Pollard added. “He did a good job of grinding his way to a higher pitch count. [Stallings] was able to get back in the zone after getting out of the zone there in the third. I really liked the effort from our bullpen. Bryce Jarvis was really good. Thomas Girard … two Sundays in a row he’s given us a really effective outing. Really, really happy to see that bounce back inning by Josh Nifong in the ninth. All three of those guys came in and featured plus stuff over the second half of the ballgame.”
Freshman Joey Loperfido singled and scored in both the fourth and sixth. The rookie laid down a fourth-inning bunt single before crossing home on Herron’s RBI double. Loperfido then singled, stole second, took third on an error, and scored on Michael Smiciklas’ sixth-inning RBI grounder to the right side.
Duke returns to the DBAP Wednesday, March 7 to take on Longwood before beginning ACC play Friday-Sunday, March 9-11 versus Virginia.