ACC play to begin with Maryland

Following a tough week in which the Blue Devils dropped two road games by double-digit margins, the baseball team hopes to start afresh with the ACC portion of its schedule.

The Blue Devils (4-8) host Maryland (4-6), their first ACC opponent of the year, in a three-game, weekend series at Jack Coombs Field. The series starts Friday at 3 p.m. and finishes with games Saturday and Sunday, both at 1 p.m.

"Playing in the league is certainly something we are excited about," Duke head coach Sean McNally said. "You kind of break the season up into phases. We finished the pre-ACC phase. We played 12 games and we've accomplished a couple of things. We've gotten everybody on our roster some experience in a lot of different spots and in a lot of different combinations. And we've also played some tough games on the road."

Every position player on the Blue Devil roster has at least one at-bat this year, and each pitcher has seen at least a third of an inning.

McNally said his focus has been on allowing his players to gain game experience and on building the program. Freshmen Matt Williams and Tim Sherlock have already broken into the starting lineup-Williams at catcher and Sherlock in right field.

As a team, the Blue Devils have batted .270 and scored an average of 5.5 runs per game. Duke, however, has struggled on the mound, posting an 8.21 ERA during the first part of the season. McNally stressed the positive statistics when discussing his team's performance in non-ACC play.

"Certainly we would like to have won more games, but i feel like we've showed some growth and some progress and that's really what it's about for us," McNally said. "We'll keep working on basic things-catching the ball, hitting the cut-off man, throwing strikes, hitting with runners in scoring position. You know, there's no miracle to it. That's what helps you be successful, and if we're going to be successful, we need to get better with it and be more consistent with it."

Duke will go back to those basics as it prepares for the series with the Terrapins, who are beginning the ACC portion of their schedule Friday as well. The Blue Devils plan to start right-handed ace Danny Otero on the mound Friday against Maryland southpaw Brett Tidball (2-1). Saturday's probable pitching matchup is between Duke's Jimmy Saris (0-1) and the Terrapins' Ben Pfinsgraff (0-2).

Otero (2-0) has been the winning pitcher in half of Duke's wins. Pitching a total of eleven innings so far this season, Otero has fanned 11 without allowing an earned run.

"A lot of the time we'll make adjustments just depending on how the games go," McNally said of his pitching rotation for the weekend. "But Danny's going to get the ball on Friday. He had a really good outing his last time."


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