DURHAM, N.C. - Jonathan Foreman gave up just two runs and two hits over 7.0 innings to lead Duke to an 8-3 win and a series sweep over Fordham Sunday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Foreman (1-0) sat down the side in five of his seven innings and ended his start by retiring 10 straight batters. The 6-0, 200 pound senior racked up four strikeouts and held the Rams (0-6) hitless in all but one inning.
Duke (4-3) broke the game open with a five-run sixth inning that featured an RBI double off the left field wall from senior Jeremy Gould and a two-run triple from Will Piwnica-Worms. Duke trailed 2-1 heading into that frame, but strung together four hits and a sacrifice fly to take the lead for good. Piwnica-Worms' triple was his second of the series and drove in his sixth and seventh RBI of the three-game set.
Senior outfielder Gabriel Saade crushed his first home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth to quell any shot Fordham had at a ninth-inning comeback. Saade's long ball, a two-run shot that followed a one-out single by freshman Mike Carroll, cleared the right field wall and was the first home run hit at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park this season.
The sophomore relief duo of Ben Grisz and Trevor Cesar held Fordham to one unearned run over the final two innings to lock up the win. Grisz, who also threw three shutout frames in Friday's 5-4 win, worked a hitless eighth before Cesar closed out the ninth.
Fordham strung together consecutive hits to lead off a two-run fourth inning, but otherwise struggled against Foreman. Foreman held them without another hit for the rest of his start before five-hitter P.J. Como broke up a string of four hitless innings with a ninth-inning single. Designated hitter Chris Walker drove in another run with an RBI double in the fourth, which was his fourth two-bagger of the series.
Duke senior catcher Ryan McCurdy reached a milestone after being hit by two pitches on Sunday. McCurdy, who holds Duke's all-time hit by pitch record, took his 50th and 51st pitches to add to his record-setting total.
Piwnica-Worms came through with a clutch two-out RBI single in the first inning to put the Blue Devils on top 1-0. His base knock made the Rams pay for a leadoff walk that was awarded to freshman third baseman Eric Brady, and a hit batter.
Foreman made quick work of the top of Fordham's lineup in the first inning, retiring the side on just six pitches. He kept cruising in the second inning and worked around a one-out walk and a stolen base by issuing consecutive strikeouts to escape the jam.
Foreman retired the side again in the third inning, but gave up consecutive hits to Nick Martinez and Walker at the start of the fourth inning. Walker, who launched his fourth double of the series down the right field line, brought in Martinez to tie the score at 1-1 before the Rams went on to load the bases with one out. Following walks to Ryan McCrann and Michael Taddei, Foreman got shortstop Brian Kownacki to fly out to center field, but had to forfeit another run in the process. Foreman then rolled a ground ball for the third out, but not before Kownacki's sacrifice fly put Fordham on top 2-1.
That two-run inning turned out to be an anomaly for Foreman, however, as the senior got back on track and opened a streak of nine straight retired batters in the fifth inning. Foreman let his defense go to work in those frames and even fielded three putouts in the fifth and sixth innings. He helped out his first baseman in the sixth inning by beating P.J. Como to the bag to snag a throw from the grass from Gould, who made a diving stop on a ground ball down the right field line.
After making the diving play in the sixth, Gould turned around and crushed a double that was less than three feet from clearing the 32-foot wall in left field. Gould's two-bagger drove in the tying run and was the first of two consecutive extra-base hits for Duke. Piwnica-Worms followed with a towering fly ball to right field that hit the top of the wall, but bounced back in play for a two-RBI triple. The triple was Piwnica-Worms' second in as many days and gave him his sixth and seventh RBI of the series.
After Foreman retired the side once again in the seventh, Grisz took the mound and got through the eighth without a hit. Gabriel Saade then put the game away with his team-leading 15th career home run, which left the park in right field and put Duke on top 8-2. Freshmen Marcus Stroman and Eric Brady also tagged hits in the inning, giving Stroman a five-game hitting streak and Brady a run of six straight games of reaching base safely.
Fordham put up one run in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a Duke error, but went quietly as Cesar sat down the next three hitters.
Up next for Duke is a home midweek showdown against Xavier on March 3 at 4 p.m. The game will be played at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Duke has not announced a starter for the midweek, non-conference game.
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