DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team swept Columbia in a doubleheader Saturday at Jack Coombs Field, coming from behind to win game one 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth before posting an 11-3 trouncing of the Lions in game two. The Blue Devils have now won eight straight games to open the season.
In game one, Andrew Wolcott (1-0) pitched six shutout innings while Gabriel Saade singled to drive in the game-winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth as Duke (8-0) defeated Columbia 2-1. Wolcott held the lions to just three hits and faced two batters over the minimum, while Michael Ness contributed two hitless innings in relief. Michael Seander (2-0) picked up the win, while Matt Williams went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Saade finished 2-for-5 with a run and the game-winning RBI.
In game two, Will Currier (2-0) pitched six solid innings to earn his second win of the season, while Kyle Butler scatted two hits through three scoreless innings to pick up his first career save in an 11-3 victory over the Lions. Currier allowed three hits and just one earned run in his second start of the season, while Jeremy Gould drove in three runs and Williams, Alex Hassan and Ryan McCurdy each scored a pair of runs.
Williams went 5-for-7 on the day and was tremendous defensively behind the plate for Duke, chalking up his first pickoff of the season. Hassan contributed a pair of doubles and extended his hitting streak to eight games, while Ryan McCurdy also went 3-for-5 with his first double of the season. Williams, McCurdy, Hassan and Jake Lemmerman each contributed two runs, while Jeremy Gould added three RBI.
Outfielder Jason Banos went 3-for-9 for Columbia (0-2) with a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth in game one, while first baseman Ron Williams added a pair of RBI in game two and Noah Cooper scored two of Columbia’s four runs on the day.
Game One: Saade Spoils Late Columbia Comeback With Game-Winning Hit In Ninth
Duke held a 1-0 lead for nearly nine innings before a two-out solo home run in the top of the ninth off the bat of Columbia outfielder Jason Banos tied the game at 1-1. Wolcott was nearly unhittable on the mound for Duke, as the junior right hander went six strong innings without allowing a run on just three hits. Michael Ness came in to pitch a hitless seventh and eighth before Michael Seander took the mound in the ninth. After Banos’ home run tied the score heading into the bottom of the ninth, Duke took advantage of a Columbia fielding error and moved shortstop Jake Lemmerman from first to second on a sacrifice bunt before Gabriel Saade sent Lemmerman across the plate with a one-out game-ending single.
Matt Williams went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Saade finished 2-for-5 with a triple, a run and an RBI and Ryan McCurdy went 2-for-3. The multi-hit effort was the fourth of the season for Williams, while Saade’s two-hit outing was his second.
Duke wasted no time in getting on the board, as a leadoff triple from Saade and an RBI single from Williams put Duke on top 1-0. Saade led off the inning by driving the second pitch he saw to the right-center gap and legged it out for his second triple of the season. Williams then followed with a hard-hit ground ball through the right side to send in Saade.
Duke threatened to score again in the bottom of the second after Lemmerman and McCurdy strung together back-to-back singles, but Columbia pitcher Bill Purdy stranded both runners with an inning-ending strikeout. After retiring the first two hitters, Purdy gave up a base hit to right field to Jake Lemmerman. McCurdy then followed with screamer up the middle to move Lemmerman to second, but Purdy kept his composure and painted the outside corner of the plate with a 1-2 breaking ball to end the inning.
Purdy and catcher Dean Forthun kept Duke from capitalizing on another scoring opportunity in the bottom of the third. With one out on the board, Alex Hassan roped a double to the left field corner to put himself in scoring position, but Forthun sent him back to the dugout after throwing him out at third while trying to steal what would have been his team-leading seventh stolen base of the season. Purdy then ended the inning with his second strikeout of the game to hold the deficit at one run.
After giving up a leadoff single in the first inning, Wolcott found a groove and retired 12 straight hitters from the first through the fourth inning. The pitcher’s duel continued into the fifth when Columbia ended Wolcott’s streak in the fifth with a pair of singles from Mike Roberts and Noah Cooper. The base knocks did little damage, however, as Lemmerman and Saade turned a double play to erase the first single, and Wolcott forced Forthun to ground out to McCurdy to end the inning.
Duke nearly got to Purdy in the bottom half of the fifth after putting runners at the corners with one out, but the Columbia right hander escaped the jam again without surrendering a run. McCurdy led off the inning with a deep fly ball over the head of Lion left fielder Jason Banos for his first double of the season before an infield single from Williams put both runners at the corners with one out. With Duke just 90 feet from scoring its second run of the ballgame, Purdy regained his focus and dealt a strikeout for the second out before forcing Freiman to roll an inning-ending fielder’s choice ground ball up the middle.
After a scoreless sixth, Ness took over on the mound for Duke to begin the seventh inning after Wolcott held the Lions to three hits over the first six frames. Ness walked the first batter he faced, but Williams helped him out by firing down to first base to pick off the runner and clear the bases. Ness then struck out Summerhays on the next pitch and forced Roberts to fly out to center field to end the inning.
Purdy diffused another Blue Devil scoring opportunity in the bottom of the seventh to hold the Duke lead at 1-0. After Columbia caught a pair of flyouts to open the inning, Saade reached on a fielding error and moved to second on a base hit by Williams, which was his third of the game. With a pair on base and two outs, Hassan ripped a fly ball to center field, but freshman outfielder Nick Cox camped out under it and made the catch to end the inning.
With just three outs needed to secure the Duke victory, Seander took the mound for Duke to start the ninth inning. Duke’s Freshman All-America from a year ago, Seander retired the first two batters with ease on a pair of groundouts. One pitch was all it took, however, as Banos ripped a 3-2 fastball over the right field fence to tie the score at 1-1 before Seander struck out Henry Perkins to end the inning.
Columbia’s hopes of a comeback were shortlived, however, as a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth by Saade drove in Lemmerman from second base for the winning run. The run was also the result of a perfect sacrifice bunt laid down by McCurdy, which advanced Lemmerman to second base after the freshman reached on a fielding error by shortstop Kevin Roberts. With Lemmerman in scoring position, Saade drove Clay Bartlett’s first offering into left field to send Lemmerman across the plate from second base.
The two-run outing marked the first time this season that Duke failed to score more than eight runs in a game.
Game 2: Currier And Butler Hold Columbia To Three Runs And Five Hits In 11-3 Win
After giving up three runs in the first two innings, Will Currier retired 12 straight batters while Kyle Butler gave up two hits over the final three innings to lead Duke to an 11-3 win over Columbia.
Currier got his second win in as many starts, while Butler picked up his first career save with a career-long three innings of work. Jeremy Gould drove in three runs for Duke, including two on an RBI single, while catcher Matt Williams, outfielder Alex Hassan and third baseman Ryan McCurdy each contributed two runs. Williams added his second multi-hit effort of the day, going 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Hassan and Nate Freiman each finished 2-for-5 with an RBI.
Currier got into a jam early to start game two, but was able to get out of the first inning after allowing just one run thanks to some defensive help from his teammates. After Currier hit Noah Cooper with a pitch and walked Ron Williams, Columbia had runners on first and second with just one out. Cleanup hitter Mike Roberts then popped up the first pitch he saw into foul territory. Seemingly unreachable and drifting out of play, Williams sprinted toward the third base dugout and slid along the warning track on his knees just in time to make the catch for the second out of the inning. With two outs on the board, Henry Perkins then ripped a line drive single to right fielder Christopher Manno, who fielded the ball and came up firing to home plate on a line to keep Cooper at bay on third base. A 3-2 walk issued to Neczypor would turn the wheel and allow Cooper to score, but shortstop Jake Lemmerman kept the damage to just one run with another clutch play on a slow roller up the middle. With an 0-2 count and the bases loaded, Currier forced Mike Malfettone to slap a ground ball that bounced just over Currier’s head, but was cut off in front of second base by Lemmerman. Lemmerman fired to first base just in time to beat Malfettone by less than one step at first base to end the inning.
The Lions took advantage of a Duke fielding error in the top of the second to score a pair of runs on a two-out double by Williams. The two-base knock to left field came immediately after Freiman mishandled a ground ball at first base and drove in Jason Banos, who reached on a single, and Cooper, who reached on the error. The two-RBI shot gave Columbia a 3-0 lead.
After holding Duke hitless through the first two innings, Columbia right hander Joey Mizzoni battled control problems in the third inning. Duke took advantage and went ahead 4-3 after putting together a four-run rally, capped by a two-out two-RBI single from Gould. After Mizzoni loaded the bases with a hit batter and a pair of walks, Hassan drove in McCurdy from third with a fielder’s choice ground ball to the left side. Columbia shortstop Alex Fererra was able to keep the ball in the infield, however, and fired to third base to force out Manno for the second out of the inning. Duke wasn’t done scoring, though, as Freiman hit a ground ball to the left side that Ferrera fielded again, but misfired to third. The wild throw allowed Williams to score from second and Hassan and Freiman to end up on second and third. Gould then sent both runners across the plate by dropping a two-out single into shallow center field.
Meanwhile, Currier got into a groove and retired six straight through the third and fourth innings. After giving up three hits and walking two in the first two innings, Currier let just two balls out of the infield over the next two innings, both of which were flyouts.
A Columbia fielding error and an RBI single from Williams in the bottom of the fourth led to three more Blue Devil runs and a 7-3 Duke lead. Mizzoni started the inning by issuing a walk to Lemmerman and giving up a bloop single to McCurdy. Dan Bracey then took over on the mound for Columbia and forced a ground ball off the bat of Manno that went between the legs of first baseman Ron Williams and allowed Lemmerman to score from second base. Saade then drew a walk to load the bases, and Williams followed with an RBI single through the right side. With the bases still loaded, Columbia traded a double play to allow Manno to score from third for the final run of the inning.
While Duke poured on the runs, Currier was untouchable on the mound for the Blue Devils. The sophomore right hander retired 12 straight over his last four innings to put himself in line for his second win of the season.
Duke gave Currier another insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead 8-3. The run came on a sacrifice fly ball from McCurdy, which sent in Nicolla from third base. After drawing a walk, Nicolla advanced to third on a single to left center field by Lemmerman, which extended the freshman shortstop’s hitting streak to a team-best five games.
Duke knocked three more hits in the bottom of the sixth to add two more runs, while also scoring at least once in the fourth straight inning. The rally started with three straight hits, including a base knock to center field by Williams which was his fifth hit of the series. Hassan then dropped a double down the right field line, while Freiman followed with an RBI single to score Williams.
Currier handed the ball to Butler at the start of the seventh inning after holding the Lions to three runs and four hits through the first six innings. Butler struck out his first two batters faced and after giving up a double to Banos, got out of the inning by forcing a ground out. He continued cruising through the eighth, retiring three straight en route to his first career save.
After Duke scored another run on a wild pitch in the eighth, Butler took the mound in the ninth to protect Duke’s 11-3 lead. The junior right hander was shaky at first, issuing a walk and allowing a hit to Malfettone, but settled down to retire the next three hitters to lock out the Duke win.
The 11-run outburst marked the fifth time in Duke’s eight games that the Blue Devils reached double-digit runs. After Saturday’s doubleheader, the Blue Devils are batting .335 and own a collective ERA of 1.38.
Duke and Columbia will complete the series with another doubleheader on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Jack Coombs Field.
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