After dropping two of three games to No. 17 Florida, Duke will look to rebound against Bucknell for the Blue Devils’ first home series of 2013.
The Blue Devils (1-2) take Jack Coombs Field this weekend having faced a baseball powerhouse in the Gators to open their season. Although Florida outscored Duke 23-13, head coach Chris Pollard believes that, despite the lopsided score, his team’s road trip was a success.
“We don’t want to do a whole lot dramatically different [against Bucknell],” Pollard said. “There are a lot of positives to take from the series, and I think we’ve had a good week of practice. I think you benefit from seeing the quality of players we saw down there in Florida.”
A highlight of the weekend was the offensive prowess of Mike Rosenfeld. The junior catcher was named captain at the start of the season, and he hit .455 against the Gators and compiled an .818 slugging percentage.
“It didn’t come as a huge surprise to me to see Mike go out there and have that type of weekend, seeing as he’s swung the bat well ever since I got here,” Pollard said. “He’s been having those kind of at-bats consistently. That’s why he’s in the three-hole, and that’s why he’ll stay there.”
Rosenfeld is followed in Duke’s lineup by redshirt sophomore Chris Marcocini and junior Jordan Betts, and the three went a combined 10-for-31 in the middle of the lineup against the Gators. Marcocini’s addition to the lineup is especially important to the Blue Devils, as he continues to return to form after taking last season off due to injury. As the designated hitter, Marcocini went 0-for-3 on Friday before belting a two-run home run Saturday and notching two more RBIs Sunday.
“Chris has really only been fully cleared for a matter of weeks, so every day he comes out he’s been further along… and gets better every time,” Pollard said. “You could see even throughout the weekend in Florida he got more and more comfortable each game.”
Bucknell (0-3) comes to Durham led by a duo of senior infielders, second baseman Travis Clark and shortstop Robb Scott. Clark led the team with a .364 batting average during their first series against Richmond, while Scott knocked the first home run of his career.
“[Scott] is a very good player,” Pollard said. “He’s gotten better each year, he’s a three-hole guy in their lineup, and he’s a key to their offense.”
Pollard also compared the Bison to his squad—both have freshman making an instant impact. Those include Bucknell relievers Max Kra and Austin Zimmerman, who pitched 4.2 scoreless innings during the second game of the series.
“They’ve got some young guys that are athletic and that can run, so they try to put some pressure on you with their bunt game and run game,” Pollard said. “They’re just like us in that they’re trying to integrate some new faces into the equation, and they’re a work in progress.”
Pollard will look to keep adjusting his team’s offense against Bucknell, while tightening up their defense and pitching. His message, however, is the same as it has been all season: To live in the moment and treat every pitch as its own game.
“It’s simple: You compete one pitch at a time, and that’s what we’re trying to do against Bucknell,” Pollard said. “It was a fun road trip [last weekend], but it was a tiring trip and a hard trip. Our guys have had a week to get fresh and get rested, and I think they’re looking forward to playing in front of our home Duke crowd.”