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Duke wins opener in series loss to Miami

Behind junior Marcus Stroman’s 13-strikeout performance Friday night, Duke ended its seven-game losing streak with a 5-1 win over ACC power Miami. The Hurricanes bounced back with wins Saturday and Sunday to take the weekend series at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

“I didn’t feel any more pressure,” Stroman said. “I just wanted to set the tone for my team and get it rolling. My mindset doesn’t change from team to team.”

No. 10 Miami struggled to make contact against Stroman, who struck out every hitter in the lineup while striking out the side in the second and sixth innings. He gave up one run on five hits in seven innings of work. The right hander has 52 strikeouts in 33.1 innings this season, pushing his strikeout per nine innings rate to 14.4.

“Marcus was electric,” head coach Sean McNally said. “He was really sharp and really competitive against a good team. That was a really positive moment for us to get back on the winning track.”

Senior Will Piwnica-Worms led the Duke (8-14, 1-5 in the ACC) offense, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Andrew Istler helped Duke gain its initial lead in the bottom of the second with an RBI double, and Angelo Labruna also added an RBI on the night.

Duke lost 2-1 Saturday in a pitcher’s duel. Freshman Trent Swart tossed seven innings for the Blue Devils, only giving up one run on six hits, striking out seven batters.

“Trent’s been pitching well all year,” Stroman said. “He’s a freshman, and he stepped into a big role…. I thought he pitched great, kept them way off balanced for seven innings, and it was unfortunate we couldn’t get him the win.”

The score was tied 1-1 heading into the ninth inning when Miami (16-4, 5-1) was able to manufacture the go-ahead run. Drew Van Orden hit leadoff batter Michael Broad who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Tyler Palmer drove him in with an RBI single off David Putman.

Miami’s starter Eric Whaley was also dominant, pitching into the ninth inning while only allowing one run on eight hits. Base hits by Jeff Kremer and Aaron Cohn forced Whaley out of the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but reliever E.J. Encinosa was able to strike out the next two Blue Devils to end the game.

With the series tied at one, Peter O’Brien’s four RBI helped the Hurricanes win the rubber match 7-1. The senior catcher went 4-for-5, including two doubles and a towering shot over the Blue Monster in left field that hit off the awning of the restaurant on top.

“You have to tip your hat,” McNally said. “[O’Brien] made some good strokes at the right times, and he was definitely a catalyst for them.”

Four Miami pitchers combined to hold the Blue Devils to one run on nine hits. Duke’s Robert Huber put in five innings of work while giving up three runs, and the Hurricanes scored four more runs off the bullpen.

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