DURHAM, N.C. – Paced by a pair of 10-run outbursts and a stellar debut by the pitching staff, the Duke baseball team swept Iona 10-2 and 10-0 in a double header Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Duke’s pitching staff, anchored by game one starter Andrew Wolcott and game two starter Will Currier, surrendered just 11 hits over the two-game spread, including a two-hit shutout in the nightcap. In only his second career start, Currier (1-0) went six full innings and held the Gaels scoreless on two hits to pick up the win. Wolcott (1-0) also earned the win in game one after contributing five innings of two-run baseball.
Duke’s bullpen did not allow a run and gave up just two hits through seven innings of work. Junior Kyle Butler, sophomore Michael Ness and freshman Dennis O'Grady all contributed two scoreless innings apiece, while senior Ron Causey closed out game two with another perfect inning to seal the sweep.
Duke’s offensive effort came all around the lineup, as nine Blue Devils collected base hits on the day, while 10 crossed the plate and eight drove in at least one run. Sophomore Jeremy Gould went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and four RBI in the opener, while senior designated hitter Kyle Kreick contributed four RBI on a 2-for-4 performance in game one. Sophomore Gabriel Saade broke out with a home run in his first at bat of game two while also coming up safe in all three of his stolen base attempts on the day. Saade scored five total runs from the leadoff spot, including three in game two. Junior outfielder Tim Sherlock also overcame an 0-for-4 start in game one to go 3-for-4 in game two, while sophomore center fielder Alex Hassan finished 3-for-5 in game one and totaled three stolen bases on the day. Freshman shortstop Jake Lemmerman also got in on the action, knocking a pair of doubles in his collegiate debut.
Defensively, Duke committed just one error over 18 innings.
Game One: Gould and Kreick drive in four apiece to lead Duke to 10-2 win over Gaels
Sophomore Jeremy Gould went 3-for-4 with a home run, double and four RBI, while senior Kyle Kreick contributed a career-high four RBI on a 2-for-4 outing to lead Duke to a 10-2 win over Iona.
Sophomore center fielder Alex Hassan also went 3-for-5 with a run from the third spot in the lineup, while junior Nate Freiman contributed a pair of runs and a double.
Junior Andrew Wolcott (1-0) picked up the win for Duke after holding Iona to two runs and seven hits over five innings of work. Wolcott picked up three strikeouts before handing the ball to Duke’s bullpen.
Duke took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on a deep sacrifice fly by Kreick. Matt Williams and Alex Hassan set the table early by knocking back-to-back singles in the bottom of the first inning. Both moved up a base on the next at-bat when first baseman Nate Freiman stepped to the plate and ripped a ground ball up the middle that the Gaels bobbled and failed to turn into a double play. Kreick came to the plate with the bases loaded and drove in the first run of the season with a sacrifice fly to deep right field. The shot to the warning track sent in Williams from third after the junior catcher moved over from second after the botched double play.
Iona played small ball in the top of the third and capitalized with a two-out RBI single to knot the score at 1-1. Chris Leahy singled through the right side and advanced to second on a bunt single by Paul Salerno. He then moved to third on a fielder’s choice ground ball and scored on a two-out bloop single by Joe Lorenzo that landed in shallow center field.
Duke got the run back in the bottom of the third and added another to go ahead 3-1. Saade opened the bottom of the third by sending the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a double. He followed by stealing third on the next pitch and scored on an RBI single up the middle by Williams. Williams would be forced out at second as part of an Iona double play, but Freiman kept the rally going with a two-out double down the left field line. Kreick then drew a walk before Jeremy Gould singled through the left side to drive in Freiman in from second base, giving Duke a 3-1 lead.
Following a scoreless fourth inning, Iona responded with a run in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to 3-2. Salerno opened the rally with a double down the left field line and scored from third on another double by Passerelle. Wolcott would settle down on the mound for Duke, however, using just three pitches to force the next two batters to pop out and ground out to maintain a slim Duke lead.
A three-run home run by Gould capped a four-run fifth inning for the Blue Devils that put Duke ahead 7-2. Gould’s blast to left came immediately after Iona changed pitchers and marked the first career long ball for the sophomore outfielder. The three-run shot brought in Freiman, who reached base with a walk, and Kreick, who contributed an RBI-double earlier in the inning.
Duke added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases with no outs. A leadoff walk to Ryan McCurdy, followed by a harmless fielder’s choice ground ball by Saade and another walk to Williams set the table for Hassan, who knocked in McCurdy with a fielder’s choice ground ball up the middle. Williams was forced out at second on the play, leaving runners at the corners until Hassan stole second. Kreick then came to the plate with two outs on the board and dropped a base hit into right field to send both runners across the plate for a 10-2 Blue Devil lead.
After taking the mound to open the sixth inning, sophomore Mike Ness cruised through the next two innings and did not allow a single ball to get out of the infield. Ness allowed just one infield hit and faced only eight batters before handing the ball over to junior Kyle Butler in the top of the eighth. Butler was perfect through his first inning, needing just eight pitches and a diving stop by Freiman at first base to record a perfect eighth inning. Butler allowed his first hit at the start of the ninth inning, but responded with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to close out game one.
Game Two: Currier, O’Grady and Causey combine for two-hit shutout in 10-0 victory
Sophomore Will Currier tossed a gem on the mound, going six innings without allowing a single run, to lead Duke to a 10-0 victory over Iona in game two. Currier retired the first 10 Iona batters he faced and surrendered just two hits and a walk in his second career start. Currier struck out a career-high six hitters and needed only 80 pitches to secure the win.
Duke’s bullpen shut down Iona for the final three innings, as freshman Dennis O'Grady contributed two hitless innings in his debut and senior Ron Causey cleaned up with a perfect two-strikeout performance in the ninth inning.
Third baseman Ryan McCurdy drew a walk and was hit by a pitch to produce two RBI and knocked in his third run of the game with an RBI single. Second baseman Gabriel Saade crossed the plate three times, including in his first at bat when he mashed the first pitch he saw well over the left field fence for his first home run of the season. Saade also stole a pair of bases on back-to-back pitches, as did center fielder Alex Hassan.
Saade wasted no time in putting Duke on the board and mashed the second pitch he saw over the left field fence for his first home run of the season. The leadoff shot was the first of four runs by the Blue Devils, who put their first five runners on base. Hassan followed Saade’s home run by drawing a walk, while Freiman knocked a base hit up the middle and Kreick and Gould followed with a pair of walks to send Hassan across the plate. Another walk to Lemmerman turned the wheel for Duke’s third run, while McCurdy followed by taking a pitch in the arm to cap the four-run opening frame.
Currier did not allow a runner to reach base until the fourth inning when he issued a walk to Iona’s Andrew Wernicki. The free pass turned out to be harmless though, as Currier retired the next two hitters to end the inning.
Saade single-handedly created a run in the bottom of the fourth to put Duke ahead 5-0. After drawing a walk on five pitches, Saade stole second and third on back-to-back pitches with two outs on the board and scored when Iona pitcher Shane Sveda threw a pitch in the dirt that bounced away from catcher Chris Griffin.
Sveda continued to struggle with control through the fifth inning and gave up a leadoff double to Sherlock before loading the bases with a hit batter and a walk. He was then pulled in favor of Mike Manemin, who came in and walked McCurdy to send Sherlock across the plate. With two outs on the board and the bases still loaded, Saade came to the plate and cranked a line drive down the third base line, but Iona third baseman Ralph Marzella made a quick stab to catch what would have been a multi-RBI base knock.
Currier continued to cruise through the fifth and sixth innings, retiring six of eight hitters while racking up two more strikeouts. He exited the game following the sixth inning with a 6-0 lead after surrendering just two singles and one walk.
Iona gave designated hitter Jonathan Nicolla a free pass to first base after mishandling a ground ball at shortstop, and Lemmerman capitalized on the mistake with a double to left-center that scored Nicolla from first. McCurdy then came through with a laser down the right field line for an RBI single before another pair of walks to Saade and Hassan loaded the bases. A wild pitch in the dirt allowed McCurdy to score, while pinch-hit walks taken by freshman John Bunder and sophomore Christopher Manno produced the final run of the inning.
Freshman Dennis O'Grady took over on the mound in place of Currier at the start of the seventh and contributed two perfect innings of relief. The Floral Park, N.Y., product forced three ground balls and a pair of flyouts while also picking up his first career strikeout. O’Grady’s work carried Duke into the top of the ninth, where senior Ron Causey locked up the 10-0 victory by recording three straight outs, including a pair of game-ending strikeouts.
Duke will continue the series with Iona on Sunday, Feb. 24, with another pair of nine-inning double headers, beginning at 11a.m. at Jack Coombs Field.
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