DURHAM, N.C. - Duke had nine extra-base hits, including four home runs, and used a nine-run third inning to defeat N.C. Central 17-3 on Wednesday evening at Durham Athletic Park. The Blue Devils had 22 hits in the game, highlighted by homers from center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms, designated hitter Jeff Kremer, catcher Ryan Munger and second baseman Mark Lumpa.
Duke (2-3) took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame. Piwnica-Worms hit a high fly ball to left that just kept carrying, finally landing over the fence for a two-out solo home run. It was the first homer of the season for Piwnica-Worms and the 12th of his career.
N.C. Central (0-4) knotted the score at 1-1 in the bottom half of the first on an infield single by catcher Carter Williamson.
The Blue Devils answered with another run in the top of the second to go ahead 2-1. Kremer led off the inning with a single through the right side. First baseman Andy Perez then moved Kremer into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, left fielder Anthony D'Alessandro singled and Kremer trotted home when outfielder Alex Moore III misplayed the ball in right.
A nine-run third inning pushed the Duke lead to 11-1. Shortstop Matt Berezo singled to center and stole second to begin the frame. Right fielder Grant McCabe followed with an RBI-triple to left center. Piwnica-Worms then drove in McCabe with an RBI-single to center. Four batters later, second baseman Angelo LaBruna added a two-run single to plate Piwnica-Worms and Perez. Berezo and McCabe would both later add two-run singles and Piwnica-Worms capped the inning with an RBI-double down the left field line.
Central shortstop Cory Williamson doubled in a run off the wall in center in the bottom of the third to make the score 11-2.
Kremer then turned on an 0-1 pitch to begin the fourth and launched a moon shot to deep right field. The ball landed on top of a building at least 20 feet beyond the outfield wall and was the first home run of the season and second of his career for Kremer.
In the fifth, Perez added a bases-loaded RBI-single up the middle to extend the Duke lead to 13-2.
The Blue Devils added a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to go ahead 15-2. With one out on the board, Munger drove a 1-1 offering the opposite way over the wall in right center. It was the first career jack for Munger and his first hit of the season. Two batters later, McCabe, who had already singled, doubled and tripled, almost completed the cycle but his drive to right hit high off the wall and the freshman had to settle for his second double of the game. Piwnica-Worms then delivered an RBI-double down the right field line to score McCabe.
N.C. Central center fielder Ross Plummer added an RBI-double of his own in the sixth for the Eagles.
Perez singled through the left side to start the top of the ninth. Lumpa, in his first at bat of the year, belted an 0-2 pitch to deep right center for a two-run blast. The ball left the yard quickly, giving the sophomore his first career home run.
McCabe led the Blue Devils at the plate, finishing 5-for-6 with two doubles, a triple, three RBI and four runs scored. Piwnica-Worms went 4-for-4 with a home run, a pair of doubles, four RBI and two runs. Kremer was 3-for-5 with a homer and two runs, while Perez added three hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Berezo and LaBruna both had two hits and two RBI apiece, while Munger and Lumpa both had homers.
David Putman made his second career start on the mound and held the Eagles to two runs on eight eights in four innings of work. The senior righty fanned a career-high four batters on the night. Freshman Andrew Istler (1-0) earned his first career win after limiting N.C. Central to one unearned run on three hits in two innings out of the bullpen. Istler had a season-high three strikeouts in his second career appearance.
Freshman lefty Remy Janco made his first career appearance in the seventh and needed only 15 pitches to strike out all three batters he faced. Fellow freshman Garrett Hayward came on in the eighth and struck out two of the five batters he faced in a scoreless frame. Freshman Nick Piscotty then pitched the ninth, striking out two Eagles in the final inning.
Duke returns home for a four-game series against Canisius this weekend at Jack Coombs Field.
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