CARY, N.C. - Freshman Chase Bebout and three relievers combined to throw a four-hitter against one of the nation's best offenses as Duke took down High Point 13-1 on Tuesday evening at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
High Point (16-10) ranked third nationally with a .371 batting average entering the game, but went just 4-for-29 against Bebout (3-0) and relievers Ryan Knott, David Putman and Matt Morris. Bebout scattered three hits and one run over six complete innings while Knott, Putman and Morris each threw one inning and held the Panthers to one hit for the remainder of the game.
Bebout has now won three of his four midweek starts. The 6-6, 210-pound freshman has gone at least five innings in each of those outings and set a new career high with six innings versus High Point. He threw just 86 pitches on the night.
Offensively, junior Dennis O'Grady and freshman Marcus Stroman drove in three RBI apiece for Duke. Both Blue Devils drove in all three of their runs with one swing of the bat as O'Grady cleared the bases with a three-run double in the second inning and Stroman mashed his first career home run in the fourth. Duke also got two RBI from Jake Lemmerman, who hit his team-leading fifth home run of the season, and two more from Will Piwnica-Worms, who knocked his team-leading 16th extra-base hit of the year.
The Blue Devils (15-9) pounded 14 hits on the way to their 11th straight non-conference win. Duke launched a season-high three home runs, with the other coming from senior Will Currier, while putting a total of 25 runners on base. Duke scored all 13 runs in the first four innings off of High Point starter Mike Caldwell.
Lemmerman crushed his two-run homer early, giving Duke a 2-0 lead in the first inning. With a 1-0 count, Lemmerman took an outside fastball over the right field wall for his team-leading fifth home run of the season. That would be the first of two hits in the game for the junior shortstop, who doubled in his next at bat.
Duke went to the long ball again in the bottom of the second and got a solo homer from Currier to lead off the inning. Currier took the first pitch he saw and nailed it down the left field line where it left the park and put Duke on top 3-0. Currier's homer sparked a four-run rally that included a bases-loaded double from O'Grady that put Duke on top 6-0.
High Point struck back in the top of the third inning, however, and cut the deficit to 6-1 with a pair of two-out hits from the top of the lineup. Bebout would go his first 2.2 innings without surrendering a hit, but gave up a two-out double to Panthers leadoff man Pablo Rosario in the third. That would be the first of two hits for High Point, which got an RBI single from two-hitter Murray White IV before Bebout got out of the inning.
The Blue Devils took that run right back in their next turn, however, thanks to a High Point throwing error with two outs. Following singles from Piwnica-Worms and Ryan McCurdy, Stroman laced a ground ball that High Point third baseman White grabbed and fired to second base. Second baseman Andrew Bartlett fielded the ball on the bag for the second out of the inning, but threw it away when trying to complete the double play at first base. Piwnica-Worms then easily trotted across the plate to put Duke back on top 7-1.
The hits kept coming for Duke in the bottom of the fourth, as a home run from Stroman highlighted a six-run outburst that left Duke on top 13-1 heading into the fifth. Stroman mashed his first career home run to the left field gap for a three-run shot that was the last of three hits in the inning for Duke. Piwnica-Worms also had a two-run double in the inning and came around to score his second run on Stroman's homer.
Bebout cruised through his second straight scoreless inning in the fifth and made up for a one-out walk with a double-play ground ball. The one-run third inning was the only blemish on Bebout's first five innings, as he held the Panthers without a hit in four of those five frames.
After a scoreless sixth from Bebout, Knott entered the game and worked through a scoreless seventh to keep Duke ahead 13-1. Knott shrugged off some early command issues to strike out Bartlett for the first out before inducing a double play ground ball to end the inning.
The Blue Devils went to the pen again in the top of the eighth and brought in Putman, who retired the side on just 10 pitches. Putman hit the strike zone with seven of those pitches, inducing two weak groundouts before striking out three-hitter Nate Roberts to end the inning. Roberts entered the game hitting .432, but went 0-for-2 against the Blue Devil staff.
Morris entered the game in the ninth in his first career pitching appearance. The 6-3 freshman southpaw made quick work of the middle of High Point's lineup, working around a two-out single to end the game. Morris also picked up his first career strikeout while throwing 15 of his 20 pitches for strikes.
Up next for Duke is a 7 p.m. meeting with N.C. Central on Wednesday, March 31, at the Durham Athletic Park. Duke will start right-hander Devin Burke (1-1, 9.31 ERA) opposite N. C. Central lefty Brandon Oatis (0-4, 18.23 ERA). Duke then resumes ACC play with a three-game series at No.3s Georgia Tech on April 2-4.
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