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Blue Devils rebound with victory

Freshman Robert Huber won his fourth game of the season last night, pitching six innings and only allowing three earned runs.
Freshman Robert Huber won his fourth game of the season last night, pitching six innings and only allowing three earned runs.

It only took one out for freshman Chris Marconcini to set the tone in last night’s victory over Davidson (16-16). Working with a 1-0 count, the Duke right fielder launched a solo home run over the right-center field wall.

The Blue Devil offense never looked back, leading Duke (20-16) to a solid 7-5 victory.

“I think that really set the tone for the first half of the ball game,” head coach Sean McNally said. “Chris was aggressive on a fastball. He put a great swing on it.... [It] certainly gave us a jump start with one swing of the bat.”

Marconcini has been on fire as of late. Despite the fact that Duke dropped two of three from Boston College this weekend, Marconcini hit .538 in the series and had five RBI.

The Blue Devil attack was not a one-man show, however, with fellow freshman Jordan Betts joining the long ball club. In the third, after an infield single by Will Piwnica-Worms, Betts hit an opposite-field, two-run homer that cleared the right field fence by several feet. The home run was the freshman’s first career long ball and pushed Duke’s team season total to seven.

On the mound, the Blue Devils were led by freshman Robert Huber, who battled for six innings, surrendering three runs while striking out six Wildcat batters. The right-hander, however, ran into trouble with two outs in the top of the fourth inning. After conceding a walk, Huber gave up an RBI double to Davidson’s nine-hole hitter Daniel Gerow followed by an RBI single to center by lead-off man Seth Freeman. Huber was able to limit damage, though, as he got Forrest Brandt to fly out to centerfield for the final out.

“I’m really pleased with his growth and development,” McNally said. “He’s doing everything better and better each time up. Commanding his fastball, mixing his pitches and using his breaking ball and his change-up. You see his confidence growing.”

In the bottom of the eighth, holding onto a slim 6-4 lead, the Blue Devils added a crucial insurance run, using their typical small-ball approach to extend their lead. Sophomore Marcus Stroman laced a single to left field. He then proceeded to steal second and score on Aaron Cohn’s opposite field poke through the hole past the outstretched glove of the Wildcat second baseman.

“I thought the run was huge,” McNally said. “It gave us the cushion we needed. We knew the heart of their order would get up and battle us to the end. It ended up being a crucial run for us.”

Despite a perfect one-two-three 8th inning, junior Joe Pedevillano struggled in the final frame, giving up a two-out triple and double. After walking the clean-up hitter Danny Weiss, closer David Putman closed out the Duke victory, striking out Andrew Barna looking on beautiful 1-2 curveball.

After the victory over the Southern Conference foe, the road gets significantly harder for the Blue Devils. This weekend Duke will travel to Charlottesville, Va. to face the class of the ACC in No. 2 Virginia.

“Virginia’s going to be a tough series,” McNally said. “They’ve got a great team and a great program. If we play well, we’ll have an opportunity to win. We played well tonight so we think that will help us get on the right track, [but] we’ll have to be at our best this weekend, no question.”

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