Some remember 2008 as the year when Flo Rida’s hit single, “Low,” took the country by storm. Others remember the year for the long-anticipated return of Harrison Ford in everyone’s favorite archeological adventure series, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” 

Duke baseball fans may have remembered this year for other reasons.

Almost 10 years to the date marked the last time the Blue Devils had taken a series from long-time ACC foe Virginia, which has since made four trips to Omaha for the College World Series and brought home two ACC championships and one national championship. From 2009-17, the Blue Devils had gone a dreadful 6-21 against the Cavaliers.

Saturday night, at about 8:40 p.m., Duke freshman Steve Mann stepped up to the plate at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, still searching for his first hit since sporting the white and gold of Detroit Country Day High School. Duke head coach Chris Pollard elected to send the freshman to pinch hit for sophomore Chase Cheek with runners on first and second in the 11th inning of a rubber match between the 18th-ranked Cavaliers and the unranked Blue Devils. Only moments later, following a heart-stopping play at the plate, pandemonium ensued. 

In a flash, Mann had ended the streak of nine consecutive series losses to the Cavaliers by connecting on a sharply-hit ground ball through the left-side of the infield to score fellow freshman Michael Rothenberg, and improve on the Blue Devils' impressive start to the 2018 season. 

Duke took the series opener Friday night by a score of 6-3, sparked by three hits from freshman Joey Loperfido and a two-run go-ahead home run off the bat of Jimmy Herron in the fifth. The Blue Devils’ 10-game win streak came to an end at the hands of junior lefty Daniel Lynch, who pitched seven shutout innings for the Cavaliers in game one of Saturday’s double-header, but they rebounded with the 3-2 walk-off win in the series finale. 

Mitch Stallings took the mound in game-two of the doubleheader, giving the Blue Devils 6 1/3 quality innings, allowing just one earned run while striking out eight. The turning point for the Blue Devils came in the seventh inning, trailing 2-1. A walk and a hit-by-pitch put senior Jack Labosky at the plate with the tying run on second and one out. In the senior’s last go-round against the Cavaliers, Labosky crushed a double to right field, tying the game at two apiece.

Labosky’s night didn’t end here, as Pollard sent the senior to the mound just moments later. Labosky retired his first 10 batters before surrendering three consecutive singles in the 11th inning. Pollard elected to stay with Labosky with one out in the 11th in a longer than usual outing for the closer, who was then able to induce a huge inning-ending double play off the bat of Charlie Cody before Mann put an end to the thriller in walk-off fashion.

It was an odd game in which the Duke lineup collected only six hits and struck out 21 times, but a culmination of clutch hits and quality pitching gave the Blue Devils a big series win that is sure to put them, once again, in the national spotlight.

Duke will look to build on the series as the Blue Devils continue their home stretch with matchups against Yale Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting Miami in yet another conference clash at the DBAP.