After a sluggish start to the season on opening weekend, the Blue Devils have now ripped off eight straight victories, demonstrating their ability to perform like the team they were made out to be in preseason polls.

Duke hit its stride to continue a hot stretch, sweeping Cornell in a three-game weekend set at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with at least 10 hits and seven runs in each game of the series as the Blue Devils kept the Big Red winless on the season. Duke won the opener 8-3 Friday night before taking both the Saturday and Sunday contests by a 7-2 margin.

A wide variety of players contributed to the Blue Devils' success, from the 11 different pitchers they used to hits from eight of their nine starters in Saturday's victory.

“I was very pleased that we were able to continue to build some depth, we were able to get some pitchers in the game this weekend,” head coach Chris Pollard said Sunday. “I thought we got three good starts from our starting pitchers. I thought, overall, our defense this weekend was very good, and we continued to get some guys heated up at the plate.”

Duke (9-2) got many solid offensive performances. Senior Jack Labosky launched his first home run of the season in the second inning of Friday’s 8-3 victory, sending one over the fence in the right-field corner. He ended the night 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Junior Jimmy Herron also added consistency, reaching base in three of his five at bats and contributing two runs.

Herron produced once again in Saturday’s game with his two doubles and one run scored. Senior captain Max Miller and freshman Joey Loperfido both added a pair of hits, along with three combined runs.  Freshman Michael Rothenberg drove in four runs, including a sacrifice fly to score Zack Kone after the shortstop tripled.

“Jimmy Herron is one of the best players in the country, and that was really on display in the last two ballgames,” Pollard said. “He was exceptional today. He played an outstanding ballgame. Coach Stein gave him the green light to swing away on a 3-0 count in an RBI situation. He didn’t try to do too much and drove a ball to center field.”

Chris Proctor’s first career home run highlighted Duke's outstanding five-run first inning in Sunday’s game. The junior smacked a 3-2 curveball just over the right-field wall. Loperfido added a pair of runs and hits to add to his solid offensive performance in the series against Cornell (0-6). 

Herron notched a pair of doubles and a leadoff triple to round out his stellar weekend. He also scored the first of the day on an RBI single by Kone.

“It’s never a matter of if with him, just a matter of when,” Pollard said. “And he’s really started to catch fire.”

Prior to this weekend, the Blue Devils had not scored a run in any first or second inning. In this series, though, they tallied runs in the first inning in every game, including the monster first inning Sunday afternoon.

Along with the evolution of the players hitting more consistently at the plate, Duke saw its bench deepen, with 11 different pitchers adding to its success in three games.

Sophomore Adam Laskey opened the series Friday by striking four out and only giving up two runs on five hits in six innings, while Ethan DeCaster closed the game as Duke’s fourth pitcher with three strikeouts.

On Saturday, Ryan Day pitched the first seven innings and had as many strikeouts. The senior only gave up two runs on five hits. Graeme Stinson and Laboksy also added three combined strikeouts, and each allowed one hit but no runs.

While senior Mitch Stallings played only five innings, he gave up just one run on two hits while striking out six. Three freshmen pitchers followed him, with Bryce Jarvis and Josh Nifong combining for another six strikeouts and Thomas Girard contributing a 1-2-3 eighth inning. A Duke error in the ninth allowed for an unearned run for the Big Red, and shortly after, Nifong closed out the series. 

“If we can go so deep into our bullpen and get the type of performances that we’ve been getting, it creates competition,” Pollard said. “Right now we have a tremendous amount of competition in our pitching staff. A lot of guys fighting for innings, and that makes everybody better.”

The Blue Devils will head back to the DBAP to take on Longwood Wednesday at 4 p.m. Then, they will have a quick turnaround before they open conference play with a series against Virginia two days later.