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Early offensive flurry powers Duke baseball to win against Richmond

<p>Michael Rothenberg cracked another home run Tuesday.</p>

Michael Rothenberg cracked another home run Tuesday.

After a long and gloomy weekend of rain delays against Northwestern, Duke traveled a few minutes from campus to Durham Bulls Athletic Park to take on Richmond Tuesday afternoon. 

The No. 22 Blue Devils made quick work of the Spiders, scoring early and quickly, to come away with a 5-2 win to add to their best season start since 2008.

“We talked on Sunday about the importance of recovery," Duke head coach Chris Pollard said. "I thought guys came out today and looked fresh. We were moving around pretty good in pregame. I liked a lot of the things we did tonight. I was very impressed with our pitching staff.”

After a weekend series where 13 different players pitches over the course of three games, Duke decided on Bill Chillari as the starting pitcher versus Richmond. The junior only pitched one inning in the second game of the series. 

Chillari had two of his four strikeouts in the first inning. He kept the game moving, giving up only one run on three hits, and retired the Spiders in order for the first three innings.

Duke (7-1), on the other hand, had much different luck in the first four innings. The Blue Devils scored five runs between the first and the third frames, giving them a comfortable lead over the Spiders for the rest of the game.

Kennie Taylor doubled as the second batter of the afternoon, and was soon brought home when Michael Rothenberg sent one over the fence in left field, resulting in a 2-0 Duke lead. Rothenberg came through for the Blue Devils once again in the third, crossing home plate on a Richmond error. 

Fellow teammates Kyle Gallagher and Erikson Nichols both also reached home on an error by the Spiders’ third baseman, bringing Duke to a 4-0 lead entering the fourth. 

Matt Mervis took the mound for just the fifth inning, keeping the Spiders from scoring another run and contributing a strikeout and a walk. He was followed by senior Hunter Davis, who pitched the next two innings—walking two and striking out three. Davis and Mervis both didn’t give up a hit in the three total innings they pithed.

“Hunter Davis has been a warrior for us, pitching a lot right now,” Pollard said. “We have to be careful because he’s throwing the ball so well, we can’t overuse him here early. He’s such an important part of our staff.”

Eli Herrick pitched the eighth inning, striking out two but giving up a double. A stolen base and error allowed Richmond (6-1) to score its second run of the game. Closing out the game for Duke was Thomas Girard, who walked one before ending the game with a strikeout. 

Duke was not able to reach home plate after the fourth inning, instead seeing a slew of popups, walks, and strikeouts—with a couple hits in between—that didn’t get much going offensively. 

Tyler Wardwell sent a line drive into the outfield for a double in the sixth, but was left on base, while Crabtree had a hard-hit single that sailed past the first baseman to land him on first. A quick double play from Richmond sent Duke into the eighth inning with five hits and five runs on the game. Nichols then added a single to right field in the eighth for Duke’s sixth hit of the day. 

“We hit some balls hard and didn’t have anything to show for it… I’m not sure we really figured these guys out, approach-wise,” Pollard said.

Duke will head to Florida this weekend to take on Penn State. 


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