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Offense struggles as UNC sweeps Duke

Coming off its best stretch of the season with three victories in its previous four games, the baseball team was primed for its series with North Carolina in Chapel Hill this weekend.

Last week’s momentum did not carry through, though, as the No. 12 Tar Heels (33-8-1, 14-4-1 in the ACC) swept the Blue Devils (12-30, 3-18) in the three-game set. Duke managed just three runs all weekend.

The Blue Devils came closest to winning Saturday when sophomore left-hander David Torcise pitched into the eighth inning while only allowing one earned run. Defensive miscues proved costly once again, and the team’s offense could only muster two second-inning runs on the way to a 5-2 loss.

Duke’s Corey Whiting tripled in the team’s first run with one out in the second and then scored on John Berger’s groundout. North Carolina bounced right back, though, taking the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. Shortstop Brett Bartles’ error on a potential double-play ball led to three unearned runs.

Torcise worked his way out of trouble several times on his way to a career-high seven and one-third innings with three pickoffs.

The Blue Devil bats were quiet again Sunday as Tar Heel right-hander Daniel Bard pitched a complete-game shutout on the way to North Carolina’s 7-0 victory. The Tar Heels jumped on top early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the second.

Duke’s offense struggled again, only tallying two hits—both singles—in the series finale. Starting pitcher Danny Otero, who has received little run support all season, lost his 10th game, most on the team.

North Carolina took advantage of Duke’s mishaps Friday night in a rain-soaked affair that ended up a 10-1 win for the home team. The Tar Heels jumped on the board with two runs in the bottom of the third off Duke starter Greg Burke, but the Blue Devils were able to cut the margin in half when rightfielder Cody Wheeler’s single to leftfield drove home Javier Socorro.

North Carolina scored three runs in the sixth inning when Wheeler slipped while fielding a single and allowed the two runners already on base to score. A third crossed the plate on a throwing error.

The Tar Heels put five more runs across in the seventh inning behind Chad Flack’s two-run homer off relief pitcher Jonathan Anderson, who allowed four earned runs.

With the loss, Duke becomes mathematically eliminated from the Carlyle Cup competition between the two rival schools. The Blue Devils are next in action Wednesday night at Davidson.

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