After offensive explosions against nonconference foes Richmond and Campbell last week, the Blue Devils took a step back, dropping their first ACC series of the year Monday night in a nationally-televised rubber match.

The No. 10 Blue Devils traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C. riding a seven-game winning streak, but were abruptly greeted by 14 Demon Deacon hits in a 10-2 loss to open the series Friday night at David F. Couch Ballpark. Duke bounced back with a 7-4 win Sunday, but lost the series finale 6-3. 

Sophomore southpaw Adam Laskey’s struggles on the mound began in the first inning of the series opener, when infielder Johnny Aiello crushed a two-run double to center field. Laskey faced the junior once more in the third inning, when Aiello sent a 1-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers, breaking the game open with a grand slam. Just an inning later, Aiello collected his seventh RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly off Blue Devil reliever Bryce Jarvis.

Things were clicking on both ends for the Demon Deacons, as junior ace Griffin Roberts collected his third win of the season, picking up eight strikeouts in eight innings of work while only surrendering two runs.

“We knew we were going to have our hands full. He is producing more swings and misses than anybody in the league,” Duke head coach Chris Pollard told Friday. “He’s got a real wipeout slider. We didn’t swing and miss as some other people have against him, but we couldn’t find holes.”

The Blue Devils (27-7, 10-5 in the ACC) did get a good relief effort out of Hunter Davis, providing three innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen. Additionally, Joey Loperfido continued his promising freshman campaign by blasting his fifth home run of the year in the losing effort.

“We’re not going to give away at bats. This team is too mature, too experienced and has too much pride in what they do and how we go about things to give anything away, lay down or not play hard,” Pollard said. “I don’t really have any issue with our effort or energy—we just got our butts kicked.”

Game two went much better for Pollard and the Blue Devils. After trading runs in the first five frames, with Griffin Conine smacking his seventh homer of the season, junior catcher Chris Proctor broke the tie in the sixth with a bases-clearing double to center field that proved to be the difference in a 7-4 win.

After three innings of scoreless relief from Ethan DeCaster, Jack Labosky closed the game for his 14th career save, setting the Duke all-time record as Proctor reeled in a foul ball that nearly sent him over the rail into the home dugout.

“That’s a heck of an honor. It was four outstanding innings of relief, without question,” Pollard said. “We threw the ball well. Ethan gave us a shot in the arm that we needed after we got the three runs up, really helped us capture momentum. Then Jack came in and was really efficient there.”

Graeme Stinson took the mound in game three for the Blue Devils, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings after struggling with his command. Stinson walked four batters and surrendered six hits in the outing. 

Wake Forest (14-19, 7-8) broke a 2-2 with three runs in the fifth, led by RBI singles off the bat of Michael Ludowig and Logan Harvey, who had been struggling at the plate and is hitting only .188. Duke got its final run of the night on an RBI single by Kennie Taylor in the sixth inning, but did not threaten again until it stranded two runners in the ninth. 

The Blue Devils will look for a bounce-back performance against a potent Davidson club Tuesday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.