Halfway through their most anticipated week of the season, the Blue Devils are struggling to live up to the hype at home.

No. 2 N.C. State trounced No. 8 Duke 9-2 at Jack Coombs Field Friday night, peppering 10 singles off Blue Devil starter Adam Laskey in the first four innings before dropping the hammer with a three-run triple by freshman catcher Patrick Bailey to deep center field to chase Laskey from the game.

"We talk about live by the sword, die by the sword. We hunt ground-ball contact, and we got a lot of it tonight. A lot of it, at times, was in the hole," Duke head coach Chris Pollard said. "That’s part of the game, and we’ve got to keep executing to the bottom part of the zone and keep hunting contact."

It was death by a thousand cuts for Duke (30-9, 12-6 in the ACC) in the early going, beginning with an endless two-out rally in the top of the third after both teams exchanged runs in the second inning.

With a runner on first and two outs, five straight Wolfpack batters reached base safely on singles or walks to drive in three runs. A two-run single by Terrell Tatum barely snuck through the infield out of reach of a diving Tyler Wardwell at second base.

Wardwell got just the third start of his career in place of senior captain Max Miller, who sustained a thumb injury Tuesday against East Carolina and is day-to-day. Pollard said Miller will be reevaluated in pregame warmups before each game to see if he can play.

Miller's replacement was in the spotlight a lot as Wardwell's throw in the second inning that bounced past first base on a double-play ball led to N.C. State's first run, and another grounder got by him in the sixth inning for an RBI single.

The freshman second baseman also showed glimpses of impressive potential in the field at times, particularly on the last play of the third inning. Wardwell managed to track down Brock Deatherage's chopper in shallow center field and flipped it to shortstop Zack Kone, who relayed the ball home to throw Bailey out as he tried to score from second. 

"Sometimes when you’re new to the lineup, the baseball has a tendency to find you, and Tyler’s a good player," Pollard said. "He’s going to settle in and do just fine for us."

The web gem did not stop the bleeding for long for the Blue Devils, though. Laskey walked J.T. Jarrett on four pitches to lead off the fourth and then was slow to get off the mound to field a well-placed bunt down the first-base line by Dillon Cooper, who reached base safely without a throw.

After a force out at third, another single glanced off Laskey's glove as the Wolfpack (30-7, 14-5) loaded the bases without hitting a ball out of the infield. A sacrifice fly and a walk to reload the bases brought Bailey to the plate, and his deep drive just out of reach of center fielder Kennie Taylor put the game out of reach at 8-1 in favor of N.C. State.

The Wolfpack's only extra-base hit besides that triple was a double on a pop fly that Taylor lost in the lights, but much like East Carolina in a similar 9-2 victory Tuesday in Durham, they used a steady diet of singles to overwhelm Duke, which lost back-to-back games for the first time of the season.

The Blue Devils managed six hits, and four of them went for at least two bases, but N.C. State's freshman ace Reid Johnston pitched well to contact for 6 2/3 innings and enjoyed relatively clean fielding behind him.

"We swung the bat better probably than the scoreboard would indicate. We hit some loud contact right at some people," Pollard said. "We had more quality than we probably have runs and hits to show for it tonight. That’s sometimes part of the game."

Duke will return to the field looking for redemption Saturday afternoon at 1 with Blue Devil senior Mitch Stallings set to take the mound against Brian Brown.