They got their winning streak to 10, but then the Blue Devil bats fell silent.
After taking the opening game of a doubleheader Sunday against Longwood 10-4 at Jack Coombs Field, Duke could not get anything going offensively and dropped the second game 2-1.
“We pitched well enough to win both ballgames,” Blue Devil head coach Chris Pollard said. “That second game we struck out 15, didn’t walk a single guy, [and] only gave up six hits. [If] You do that you should win a ballgame, but we just didn't do a good job with our situational hitting when we had guys in scoring position.”
This was the first set of games for Duke (29-18) after a week off for finals, but the Blue Devils did not look rusty in the opening game against the Lancers (20-26). After giving up an early run in the top of the third inning, Duke exploded for four runs in the bottom half and never looked back, adding one run in the fifth inning and five more in the sixth inning for good measure.
The second game started off auspiciously for the Blue Devil offense as it pushed across a run in the first inning. But it would turn out to be the only run of the evening for Duke, as the Longwood pitching staff stifled the Blue Devil bats the rest of the game.
Duke was not without its chances in the second game of the doubleheader as the Blue Devils put runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth innings.
Duke's best shot to come back came in the bottom of the ninth inning. First baseman Aaron Cohn was the beneficiary of an error by Longwood right fielder Brandon Delk to allow Cohn to reach third base, represent the tying run with no one out in the inning. But after designated hitter and potential winning run Matt Berezo drew a walk following the error, Lancer right-hander Mitchell Kuebbing slammed the door on a comeback, striking out the next three Blue Devils he faced.
“In the first game we did a better job of hitting the fastball,” Pollard said. “In the second game we hit a lot of fly balls. We kind of allowed ourselves to expand up in the zone and we hit a lot of fly balls. And then the other part of it obviously is we had guys in scoring position and we just didn’t come up with hits. That was really the difference.”
Coming into the doubleheader with the ACC’s third-best ERA at 2.95, the Blue Devil pitching staff added two more solid outings to a stellar season. Game one starter Drew Van Orden tossed four innings of three-hit ball, allowing only one run, and the combination of relievers Conner Stevens, Sarkis Ohanian, and J.R. Holloway allowed only three runs on five hits over the final five innings.
Game two starter Michael Matuella did all he could for Duke, allowing only two runs and striking out 12 batters in 6.2 innings of work. His relief, sophomore Nick Hendrix, was perfect over the final 2.1 innings
Duke turns right around to finish off the three-game set at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park Monday at 4 p.m. against the Lancers. Coming off a scoreless outing April 26 against Wake Forest, junior Trent Swart will get the start on the mound in the series finale.