After taking two of three on the road in Pittsburgh in its first ACC series away from Durham, Duke will return home for its next game riding its hottest start to a season in 20 years.  

The No. 19 Blue Devils will host Presbyterian back in the friendly confines of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park Tuesday at 6 p.m., as Duke looks to continue a hot streak stretching to the beginning of last week that has seen the Blue Devils climb back into the polls. The Blue Hose arrive in Durham on a considerably different note, as they were on an 11-game losing streak before finally breaking out by taking two of three this weekend against Charleston Southern. 

“This group has been really good about staying in the moment and focusing on the day and the moment at hand. We can’t be victimized by our own success, and specifically we can’t start to get enamored with reading our own press clippings, and I think tomorrow night is a test in that regard,” Duke head coach Chris Pollard said. “We had a really good week last week, and we were on the road most of last week and we handled that well. Now we come back home and we’ve got to guard against a letdown. We’ve got to guard against going flat after what was a pretty emotional back-and-forth series with Pitt.”

Since dropping two of three games against then-No. 14 Vanderbilt on the road in their first series of the season, the Blue Devils (20-5) have been perfect in nonconference games. Duke is coming off a particularly gritty weekend of ACC action that featured two one-run games, including a come-from-behind victory Sunday that was sealed on an infield single in the top of the ninth inning. 

A number of Blue Devils impressed over the weekend, particularly the relief corps of Ethan DeCaster and Jack Labosky. Labosky earned the save Sunday after DeCaster threw four shutout innings of two-hit ball in relief. Griffin Conine, Jimmy Herron and Kennie Taylor all had strong weekends at the plate as well.

“Ethan DeCaster was lights out. He was as good as he’s been all year. Jack Labosky had a really great ninth inning. It was five innings of exceptional relief work, to keep the game right where it was,” Pollard said. “I feel like we showed some really positive signs in terms of the continued development of our offense. That’s something that I’d like to see us continue. I think we’ve had a lot better approach, our strikeouts are down, we’re doing a good job of getting guys in scoring position, so I feel good about guys getting heated up offensively.”

Keeping the offense up against Presbyterian (7-18) shouldn’t be too difficult for Duke’s hot lineup. The Blue Hose have struggled on the mound all year, surrendering 10 or more runs in eight games already. Their best option on the mound, Tanner Chock, owns a 4.18 ERA to lead a staff that has combined for a 6.20 ERA this season. 

Of the many contributors this weekend, Conine is among the most important breakout players who will hope to keep things rolling Tuesday. After hitting .298 and slugging .547 a season ago, the No. 11 prospect on Baseball America’s 2018 draft board is hitting just .222 this season and slugging .467—still respectable, but a noticeable drop-off from a year ago. His outburst Sunday against the Panthers—going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI and a home run—might be the spark that could jolt him back into shape.

“It was great to see Griffin Conine break out yesterday,” Pollard said. “He looked like Griffin Conine and had three really, really loud contacts.”

For the rest of the Blue Devils, the midweek game could be the chance for some reserves to see more extended time ahead of their weekend series against Notre Dame. 

“We’re going to continue to split start on the mound where we get a lot of guys in there, get a lot of guys some work. We’ve got a lot of guys throwing the ball really well for us, so I think these midweek opportunities are great to continue to be able to build depth,” Pollard said. “Offensively, I think we’re really set with eight spots in the lineup but still looking for one more spot to be solidified over the second half of the season.”