|No. 22 Duke at Virginia
|When: March 8-10|
|Where: Charlottesville, Va.|
|Listen Live: The Duke Sports Network|
DURHAM, N.C. – After suffering a pair of midweek losses, No. 22 Duke looks to bounce back as the team heads to Charlottesville, Va., for its first true road contest of the season.
The Blue Devils will face off with the Cavaliers to open ACC play for a three-game weekend series. The two ACC foes are set for a 4 p.m. first pitch on Friday afternoon for the series opener, while Saturday’s and Sunday’s games are both slated for a 1 p.m. start. 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. Sunday’s starter is to be announced.
Duke and Virginia will meet for the 170th time in program history this weekend as the two teams open up conference play in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers hold the series advantage over the Blue Devils with a 106-62-1 mark, including a 51-17 mark over Duke in Charlottesville. Most recently, the Blue Devils welcomed Virginia to Durham a season ago, defeating the Cavaliers in a three-game series, winning the bookend games of the weekend. In a deciding game three, the Blue Devils walked it off on an 11th-inning hit from Steve Mann to secure the 3-2 series-clinching victory. Head coach Chris Pollard holds a 7-12 mark against Virginia, including a 6-12 mark at Duke.
Blue Devils Picked to Finish Second in ACC Coastal
Duke was picked to finish second in the 2019 ACC Coastal Division in a poll of the conference’s 14 head coaches. Thirteen coaches picked North Carolina to win the Coastal Division, while Virginia received the other first-place vote. The Tar Heels tallied 97 points, ahead of both Virginia and Duke, who tied for second with 64 points apiece. Miami placed fourth with 61 points, while Georgia Tech (59), Pitt (24) and Virginia Tech (23) rounded out the teams in the division. The Blue Devils finished second in the ACC Coastal a season ago, posting an 18-11 record in conference play.
In Friday’s series opener against Penn State, the Duke pitching staff tossed a combined no-hitter, leading the Blue Devils to a 14-0 victory over the Nittany Lions. The no-hitter served as only the sixth in school history, and the first since Tom Blackburn accomplished the feat against Rollins in 1955. The Duke pitching staff tallied 11 strikeouts across the nine hitless innings, while only surrendering two walks. Headlining the effort was starting pitcher Graeme Stinson (2-0), who worked the first 5.0 innings, collecting five punchouts, and allowing two walks to earn his second win of the season. Sophomore Matt Dockman followed in relief, tossing 1.0 inning and recording one strikeout, while freshman Jack Carey went on to work the final 3.0 frames, notching five strikeouts to earn his first career save.
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 (23), doubles (7), RBI (18), runs (14) and stolen bases (6), while tying for the team-lead in home runs with three. His 23 hits currently rank him seventh in the nation and place him atop the ACC heading into the weekend, while being tied for first in doubles. The Tampa, Fla., native has reached base safely in every contest this season, and owns a reached-base streak of 20 games, dating back to last season. This past weekend, Taylor came up clutch in the series finale against Penn State, recording his first career grand slam, as part of a six-RBI, multi-home run performance. His grand slam scored Duke’s first runs of Sunday’s contest, pushing the Blue Devils ahead 4-2, while his second home run of the day padded the lead in a 9-2 series-clinching victory for Duke.
Welcome to K-Ville
The Blue Devil pitching staff has been impressive thus far, recording 172 strikeouts -- the nation’s highest mark and seven more than any other school through 13 contests. The Blue Devils also lead the nation in strikeouts per nine innings with 13.0, and rank sixth in the ACC in strikeout-to-walk ratio with a mark of 3.25 (172 K-53 BB). Nine Duke pitchers have recorded double-digit strikeout totals so far this season, with sophomore Bryce Jarvis, freshman Cooper Stinson and senior Hunter Davis leading the way for the staff with 20 punchouts apiece.