'We play with anybody': Duke baseball cruises to midweek win against No. 13 Campbell

Junior Luke Storm reaches for the ball at first base in Duke's Tuesday win against Campbell.
Junior Luke Storm reaches for the ball at first base in Duke's Tuesday win against Campbell.

After a weekend return to Jack Coombs Field, Duke made its way back to Durham Bulls Athletic Park Tuesday evening. Despite another change in scenery, the home team looked as comfortable as ever, exploding on offense to take the midweek game against No.13 Campbell by a score of 15-6. 

The Duke bats were hot from the get-go and did not show many signs of slowing down. Jay Beshears mashed his team-leading eighth home run 416 feet over the left-center wall, giving Duke a first-inning 1-0 lead. In the second inning, a Damon Lux single drove in a runner from third, and a Giovanni DiGiacomo squeeze bunt managed to sneak Luke Storm home. An Andrew Fischer double brought in another two, and by the end of the second inning the Blue Devils had jumped out to a 5-0 lead.

“I thought we got great, great bats out of two, three and five there with Fischer and Beshears and Chad Knight,” said Pollard.

Freshman right-hander Andrew Healy opened the game strong on the mound for Duke (19-10), striking out two of the first three batters and getting a foul out to end the inning. Healy continued to roll through the second inning, sending two more batters out swinging and another on a soft infield fly. By the time Healy exited for the fourth inning, he had allowed just one baserunner and struck out five.

“I thought it was a terrific start by Andrew Healy,” said Pollard. “You get a start like that, I thought we were pretty good tonight.”

The Camels (22-5) struck back in the top of the fourth when shortstop Bryce Arnold cranked his 11th home run of the year off of Duke’s second pitcher of the evening, Owen Proksch. After giving up a single to his second batter, Proksch was promptly pulled. Right-hander Jimmy Romano did not fare much better, walking his first batter. 

Luckily for the Blue Devils, baserunning mistakes bailed them out. DiGiacomo caught a line drive for the second out of the inning and managed to turn two as Campbell baserunner Drake Pierson got caught on second base without tagging up at first. Duke escaped the inning having given up just one run.

Duke responded quickly and decisively after Campbell put its first runs on the board, plating three in the bottom of the fourth and continuing its domination into the seventh inning. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Fischer legged out a triple on a ball hit deep into center field and Beshears walked before stealing second, leading to an Alex Stone groundout that sent Fischer across the plate. A Chad Knight double scored Beshears, and after pinch-hitter Devin Obee was hit by a pitch to load the bases, a DiGiacomo walk scored Knight before a Mooney single scored another two runs. Heading into the seventh, Duke had taken a commanding 13-1 lead.

A big part of the Blue Devils’ dominance Tuesday night was their depth on the mound, as Duke fielded seven pitchers. Only two of them went for two innings or more, with three throwing 13 or fewer pitches. That large bullpen has been key in helping the Blue Devils maintain a rotation of relievers without risking injury or exhaustion. In total, Duke’s pitchers recorded 16 strikeouts against the Camels.

“One of our strengths is our ability to have a lot of different guys that we can run in the ball game,” said Pollard, “We were able to create some separation.”

Campbell showed some fight down the stretch. A seventh-inning RBI single scored Trenton Harris before a fielding error at first scored a second Camel. The Blue Devils responded yet again in the bottom of the inning as infielder MJ Metz launched a no-doubter high over the left-field wall, scoring two more runs and helping Duke shore up its lead at 15-3. Campbell continued to battle through the eighth, but the Blue Devils’ margin provided a safety blanket as left-handed pitcher Aaron Beasley closed out the inning and the game. 

The Camels are nationally ranked, and after Sunday’s win against Pittsburgh, Pollard described them as the “best mid-major in the country.” On Tuesday, Duke proved that it can go toe-to-toe with top teams and come out on top.

“I think when we play well, we play with anybody in the country. We went nose to nose with Wake Forest here … We beat a top-15 ranked East Carolina team here.” said Pollard, “I think we've shown here over the first half of the season [that] when we play well, we play with anybody.”

Duke will go again Friday night when it hosts Virginia Tech in the first of a three-game series back in Durham Bulls Athletic Park. 


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