No. 16 Duke baseball sets home run record, sweeps weekend games against George Mason, Coastal Carolina

Logan Bravo celebrates during Duke's Friday win against Indiana.
Logan Bravo celebrates during Duke's Friday win against Indiana.

A popular vacation destination for many Duke students after classes get out in May, the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area has developed into a favorite location for the Blue Devils’ baseball squad. After winning an NCAA regional in Conway last season, No. 16 Duke opened its 2024 campaign with a 3-0 showing in Baseball at the Beach over the weekend against Indiana, George Mason and Coastal Carolina.

Behind a strong all-around pitching performance that held the Chanticleers to just four hits, the Blue Devils (3-0) followed up a record-setting win against the Patriots with a 5-3 victory against Coastal Carolina. Redshirt senior second baseman Zac Morris hit a leadoff home run and graduate pitcher Charlie Belienson earned the save.

In a well-played game that felt like a postseason matchup, it was Belienson who came in to shut the door for Duke. He came into the game in the seventh with two runners on base, got out of the jam and put up a scoreless eighth. He showed similar poise in the ninth, striking out two and retiring the side in order.

Head coach Chris Pollard turned to the arm barn early and often, throwing six different pitchers in the game. First, one of the nation’s top closers as a freshman last season, now-sophomore James Tallon entered the game in the third inning Sunday. He relieved sophomore pitcher Aidan Weaver, who put runners on base via a walk and a hit by pitch, and was able to get out of the jam with ease.

The preseason All-American ran into some trouble in the fourth, though, as a leadoff walk, botched pick-off attempt and stolen base put graduate outfielder Graham Brown on third with just one out. A sac fly to deep right brought Brown home and shortened the Blue Devils’ lead to two, and Tallon walked two more before being taken out of the game for sophomore Owen Proksch.

Another one of Duke’s top arms, junior Fran Oschell III, also struggled with control. Heralded as one of the top relievers in the nation, Oschell allowed an earned run, walked two batters and threw three wild pitches.

The Blue Devils were not able to add on any insurance in the fifth inning, as a leadoff double from graduate third baseman Ben Miller did not materialize into a run, but they got their run back in the sixth.

Junior shortstop and Oklahoma transfer Wallace Clark came through with a double off the right-field fence, driving in freshman Macon Winslow. That hit was followed by two strikeouts, however, as the Chanticleers’ graduate pitcher Will Smith came up with some big pitches.

To start the game, the juice in the Blue Devils’ bats immediately carried over from their 11-home run performance against George Mason. Morris took the first pitch of the game deep to right-center field.

However, Coastal Carolina got a run of its own in the first frame. Sophomore second baseman Blake Barthol got things going with a bloop to no-man’s land in shallow left, and while Clark nearly tracked it down, the ball tipped off his glove and fell for a double, leading to the Chanticleers’ first run. 

Another member of the Blue Devils’ all-transfer infield, Miller hit a bomb of his own to get Duke back on top in the third. Senior catcher Alex Stone nearly made it two in a row, slamming a ball off the high fence in center field. Stone scored just a few pitches later, as graduate first baseman Logan Bravo tallied his fourth RBI of the weekend with a single to left. Morris, Miller, Clark and Bravo scored 14 runs and drove in 20 on the weekend.

The Blue Devils next play their home opener Wednesday against Liberty. Unlike last season, where Duke played a number of home games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, all of the team’s home matches this year will be at Jack Coombs Field.

Dom Fenoglio | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Dom Fenoglio is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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