DURHAM, N.C. – Mike Mercurio belted a three-run double in a six-run fourth inning to help High Point end Duke’s six-game winning streak with a 9-3 win on Tuesday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Mercurio finished 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot and played errorless defense at shortstop to back a five-inning start from junior right-hander Drew Dades. Dades (1-1), in his first career start, held Duke to six hits and two runs before the Panther bullpen duo of Spencer Andrews and Ryan Retz kept Duke to one run on two hits over the remainder of the game.
The Panthers exploded for 17 hits with three knocks each from Mercurio, Ryan Retz and Drew Geissinger.
Duke freshman starter Drew Van Orden (2-2) pitched three scoreless innings before High Point strung together six runs on six hits in the fourth inning. Van Orden scattered 12 hits and gave up eight earned runs through six full innings before turning it over to fellow freshman Mark Lumpa in the seventh. Lumpa, a right-hander from Fleming Island, Fla., came in and shut down the Panthers, scattering five hits and one earned run in career-high three frames. The run was the first allowed this season by Lumpa, who boasts a 1.12 ERA through his first four appearances.
Jordan Betts and Jeff Kremer led Duke (7-2) with a combined four hits and three RBI. Betts finished the day 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI, while Kremer was 2-for-2 with a single and a double. Kremer also scored two runs and picked up his ninth RBI this season. Betts extended his hitting streak to six games and has now, along with Kremer and freshman Chris Marconcini, reached base safely in all nine of Duke’s games.
Marconcini, Marcus StromanAngelo LaBruna and Anthony D’Alessandro also recorded hits, while Stroman scored the only other run for the Blue Devils. D’Alessandro tagged a single in the first inning, giving him hits in six consecutive at bats. The freshman outfielder finished 1-for-4 and has now reached base in seven of his last nine trips to the plate.
High Point starting pitcher Drew Dades (1-1) shutdown the Duke bats after giving up an early run in the bottom of the first inning. Dades scattered five hits through his five full innings, giving up only two earned runs despite walking five batters.
The Blue Devils (7-2) scored their three runs on eight hits and stole one base. The Blue Devils have now stolen an ACC-leading 22 bases on 29 attempts.
The Blue Devils got on the board early, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. Junior outfielder Will Piwnica-Worms picked up the RBI on a fly out to right field that scored Stroman, who reached base on a leadoff walk, advanced to second from a flyout from Marconcini and stole third before crossing the plate for the first run of the game.
High Point responded in the fourth with a six-run outburst from six hits. The Panthers picked up their first run on a bases-loaded single by Scott Glover, the designated hitter. Drew Geissinger then hit a sacrifice fly that scored a run from third, and the big blow come on a three-run double by Mike Mercurio that put High Point on top 6-1.
Duke added one more run in the bottom of the sixth when Betts belted a double to left field that scored Kremer who came all the way around to score from first after he reached base with a leadoff single. That would be one of two times in the game that Betts drove in Kremer from first base with a double.
The Panthers, however, proved too much to handle as they scored two more runs in the top of the seventh from a Steve Antolik double that scored Sal Pezzino from second. Geissenger then singled on blooper to centerfield that scored Antolik for the second run.
Betts came through again for Duke in the eighth when hit his second double of the game that scored Kremer from first again after reaching base on a leadoff walk.
Duke will next host a three game series against La Salle this Friday through Sunday, March 4-6, at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The series will mark Duke’s 2011 debut at DBAP, which will serve as Duke’s home field for 18 game this season.
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