Middle-inning explosion lifts Duke over Camels

Taking full advantage of their brief break from ACC play Tuesday night, the Blue Devils (19-9) not only notched an 11-7 road victory over Campbell (5-22), but got their offense back on track as well.

Despite recording its first conference win of the year this past weekend against Georgia Tech, Duke left room for improvement with a .227 team average at the plate over the three-game series.

Tuesday, however, the Blue Devils found their groove in the batter's box. Duke powered through eight different Camel pitchers en route to a victory highlighted by a .368 team batting average and a six-run sixth inning.

"Coming off the Georgia Tech series where we pitched and caught the ball very well, I was glad that we had a game on Tuesday to get the guys swinging the bats again," head coach Sean McNally said. "[I was] really excited about the offense. We swung the bats, and situationally, we hit the ball well."

Trailing 3-2 heading into the fifth inning, the Blue Devils played small ball to manufacture runs and take the lead-and ultimately the momentum-away from the Camels.

Reaching first on an error, left fielder Alexander Hassan advanced to third on a Jonathan Anderson bunt that the quick centerfielder beat out for a single. After lacing an RBI single to right to notch the score at three, Jimmy Gallagher advanced to second on the throw to put the go-ahead runs on second and third.

Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Nate Freiman and Brett Bartles drove the runners home as the Blue Devils took their first lead of the game at 5-3.

"That inning was a catalyst for us," McNally said. "We have good hitters. We have guys who can swing the bats-we've done it this year. It was nice to see us have fun, be loose and score some runs."

Duke continued its scoring run into the sixth inning. The Blue Devils used timely hitting to drive in six runs-five of which came with no outs-for a formidable 11-3 lead.

While Campbell staged a four-run comeback in the last several innings to keep the game exciting, the Camels were ultimately no match for the Blue Devil defense.

Duke played solid in the field, turning two double plays and committing no errors on the night.

"Defense was very good," McNally said. "[We] ran balls down in the outfield-we were fundamentally sound. That's always a key element because you don't want to give extra outs to anyone.... Tonight, it was really important because Campbell was able to close the gaps in later innings, and defense was the key element there."

From the mound, right-handed freshman Will Currier (2-0) notched the win in his first career start, striking out three and allowing only six hits in five innings.

Following Tuesday's win, Duke returns to conference play as the Blue Devils take on No. 1 Florida State this weekend in Durham.


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