Duke still has not lost a conference series, though it was unable to complete a sweep of Miami Sunday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. 

The Blue Devils had a strong showing in the weekend's first two games, scoring four runs in each contest while allowing three runs Friday night and holding the Hurricanes to just one run Saturday afternoon. Miami responded Sunday afternoon to double the number of runs it scored in the first two games combined, handing Duke a resounding 8-2 defeat. 

The series wrapped up a 17-game homestand for the Blue Devils after two defeats of ACC foe Virginia last weekend and two victories against Yale during the week as well.

“These two teams, UVA and Miami, will be up near the top of our league at the end of the year,” head coach Chris Pollard said. “We had a very successful midweek series with Yale. I told our guys that even though it doesn’t feel great to lose on a Sunday, you go 4-1 in a 5 game week.... Most folks in college baseball will take that.”

In the series opener, Duke started Adam Laskey, who didn’t make it out of the first inning in his matchup against Miami last season. Laskey pitched through six innings this time, allowing three runs, with only two of them earned. Three Duke errors through the first three innings made Laskey’s job difficult, and they allowed the Hurricanes to take the lead momentarily.

But the Blue Devil offense came to the rescue to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth and take the lead in the sixth. Zach Kone hit a double, followed by Griffin Conine getting hit by a pitch. Joey Loperfido doubled for the fifth time this season to drive in a run, and Michael Rothenberg followed with an RBI to put Duke ahead of Miami 4-2. 

Ethan DeCaster pitched the next two innings and had three strikeouts, and Jack Labosky closed out the game to earn his second save of the year. 

Conine and Kone had big defensive plays to end the game, with Conine snagging a line drive in the eighth and Kone turning a game-ending double play to lead the Blue Devils to a 4-3 victory.

Saturday was a fairly restful day for the Blue Devil bullpen, as Mitch Stallings pitched eight innings and had as many strikeouts, only giving up one run on five hits. Labosky closed the game once again for Duke, striking out two and adding another save to his resume.

The Blue Devils came out hot, scoring three of their four runs off impressive hitting in the first inning. Jimmy Herron got a leadoff hit and scored off a misplay by Miami that allowed Kone to get to third. Labosky then hit a two-run homer over the Blue Monster to finish off the inning.

Miami’s only score came in the third after back-to-back walks and then an RBI single. Conine brought scoring to a close in the eighth inning with a solo shot—his fourth homer on the year.

Sunday's series finale quickly took a turn for the worse for Duke. The Hurricanes had three hits and two runs that all came with two outs in the first off starting pitcher Ryan Day, which turned into 11 hits and seven runs through the first three innings.

“After Ryan had the short start—because we like to split-start our midweek games—we didn’t want to extend any one guy too far in this ballgame,” Pollard said. “We were able to get a bunch of different guys out there, and they all pitched well.”

As the Blue Devils struggled to stop the Miami offense early on in the game, Duke utilized a deep bullpen and a slew of pitchers in an attempt to come back. Matt Dockman replaced Day to finish the third and pitched through the fourth, but allowed three hits and as many runs.

Four pitchers—Bryce Jarvis, Graeme Stinson, Matt Mervis and Thomas Girard—handled the last five innings of the game, combining to allow just one run. Stinson had a particularly impressive performance on the mound, with three strikeouts, no hits and one walk. Mervis and Girard also had a strikeout each. 

“I think Miami had about five or six baserunners after the third inning,” Pollard said. “Our bullpen was effective over the last six innings of the ballgame at holding the game within striking distance.”

Just as Duke struggled on the mound early, its performance at the plate was no different. Through the first five innings, Duke went three-up, three-down twice and had only two hits—both from Chris Proctor. In the last four innings of the game, the Blue Devils were able to add another five hits, with most of them singles.

The large Hurricane lead gave Blue Devil newcomers a chance to play in the ninth, with Duke substituting out eight of its nine starters. Two players off the bench had impressive hits for the Blue Devils. Freshman sub Tyler Wardwell hit a double in the ninth—his first career hit—and Junior walk-on Aaron Therien came to the plate as a pinch-hitter and put Duke on the board with two-run homer for his first career hit after freshman Tyler Wardwell also got on base with a double for his first hit as a Blue Devil.

“The process of getting a lot of positional guys in the last two innings is twofold,” Pollard said. “Number one, we don’t want to get a starter hurt in a ballgame like that. And number two, it offers an opportunity for us to develop some young guys, get some guys some valuable experience that will pay diligence for them down the road.”

Duke will play two more midweek games before heading to Pittsburgh for its next conference series next weekend.