When the Blue Devils walked out of Harrington Athletic Village Friday night, it looked as if the worst of Duke's early season issues were back to haunt them.
The Blue Devils' pitching staff struggled from top to bottom, Duke's bats were ice cold all evening and defensive miscues from a normally reliable outfield set the stage for what could have been a long weekend for the visiting team.
Yet, after enduring an early season slump that saw the Blue Devils drop three straight series, Duke knew it had the resilience to turn the ship around.
The Blue Devils bounced back from a 5-0 loss to Boston College Friday to win two straight on Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., by margins of 4-1 and 8-0. Although the Eagles torched Duke's bullpen in the series opener, the Blue Devils dug deep in game two to grind out yet another key ACC win, extending its series winning streak to four. Cooper Stinson and Bryce Jarvis held down the mound to set up an explosive performance at the plate from Kennie Taylor in game two to take the series victory.
“We were extremely tough,” Duke head coach Chris Pollard told GoDuke.com. “They’re a team that can put pressure on you in a lot of different ways, and to limit that team in their home ballpark to one run over 18 innings was incredibly impressive. I’m really proud of our club.”
After being shut out for just the second time this season, the Blue Devils stayed poised to take advantage of key Boston College errors to build an early lead and never look back in Saturday's opening game.
With Taylor and Matt Mervis on first and second, Chase Cheek put the Blue Devils on the board with a sacrifice fly to left field. And after third baseman Jake Alu fumbled a throw to set Duke up with bases loaded, the Eagles dropped a line drive from Michael Rothenberg to send two more Blue Devils home, giving Duke a lead it would not relinquish out of the first inning.
Although starting pitcher Bill Chillari held Boston College to just three hits over four innings, the Eagles settled down to a similar defensive performance to that on Friday. Boston College righty Mason Pelio only allowed two hits over the first six innings, finally being relieved in the seventh after giving up yet another sacrifice fly to Mervis.
But after a slow start to the day, the Blue Devils came down hard in the season finale to keep their series winning streak alive.
Yet again, Duke struck first with an rbi liner from Erikson Nickols down centerfield in the fourth. The Blue Devils earned another run in the fifth before blowing the game wide open in the sixth, abusing the Eagles' bullpen down the stretch.
Boston College senior Sean Hughes couldn't catch a break Saturday night, loading the bases with three consecutive walks with just one strike out for a quick trip back to the dugout. Taylor made sure to give reliever Matt Gill a proper greeting on his first strike from the mound, connecting for a right field single that put the Blue Devils up four. Keeping up with trends from the game before, Mervis put up yet another sacrifice fly down left field to give Duke one more run in the inning.
The Blue Devils strung together yet another three-run inning in the eighth to seal the deal, earning their first shutout since April 13. Duke's pitching staff can be credited for Boston College's poor performance at the plate, with Stinson and Jarvis combining for just five hits over seven innings.
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The Blue Devils will look to continue their late-season momentum against VCU at Jack Coombs Field Sunday for a doubleheader.