|No. 24 Duke vs. No. 14 East Carolina
|When: Tuesday, March 12|
|Where: Durham Bulls Athletic Park|
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke looks to build upon an impressive first weekend of conference play, returning home to Durham for a top-25 matchup.
The 24th-ranked Blue Devils welcome No. 14 East Carolina to Durham Bulls Athletic Park Tuesday afternoon for a midweek contest, which is set for a 4 p.m. first pitch. Tuesday’s game serves as the first of an eight-game homestand for the Blue Devils.
Most recently, Duke defeated conference foe Virginia in a doubleheader sweep to earn its first ACC series win, marking the first series victory in Charlottesville since 1968.
Duke and East Carolina will meet for the 52nd time in program history when the two square off in Tuesday’s midweek matchup. The Pirates hold the series advantage, 38-13, including a 15-7 mark in Durham, as the Blue Devils look to snap a 16-game losing streak against the inner-state foes. Tuesday’s contest will be the first of a home-and-home between the two schools, as Duke travels down the road to Greenville April 3. Head coach Chris Pollard looks to earn his first win against the Pirates, as he currently owns a 0-5 record against ECU.
Hot Start for the Devils
The Blue Devils are off to a hot start in the 2019 campaign, holding a 11-5 record across their first 16 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 game one, 11-3, before Duke bounced back to sweep Sunday’s doubleheader to secure the series win. The Blue Devils earned a 2-1 victory in game one before defeating the Cavaliers 8-6 in game two of the twinbill to clinch the program’s first series win in Charlottesville since 1968 to begin league play.
The Blue Devil pitching staff has been impressive through the first 16 games, recording 192 strikeouts to lead the ACC, 22 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 11.9, and rank third in the league in hits allowed per nine innings at mark of 7.01 (113 H/145.0 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 ranks second with 23 punchouts.
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 (26), doubles (7), RBI (18) and runs (17), while tying for the team-lead in home runs (3) and stolen bases (6). His 26 hits currently rank him seventh in the nation and 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 23 games, dating back to last season.
On Deck for Duke
Following the midweek contest with the Pirates, the Blue Devils are set for another top-25 matchup this weekend, welcoming No. 13 Louisville to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the ACC home opening series. The two teams are set for a 4 p.m. first pitch in Friday’s series opener, while Saturday’s and Sunday’s games are set for a 1 p.m. start.