No. 13 Duke baseball keeps rolling, obliterates Davidson to keep undefeated start to season intact

The Blue Devils scored 17 runs in their rout of Davidson.
The Blue Devils scored 17 runs in their rout of Davidson.

On a windy evening in Durham, Duke was as steady as can be.

After scoring 20 runs in the series finale against Northwestern Sunday afternoon, the bats remained red-hot for the 13th-ranked Blue Devils en route to a 17-0 blowout of Davidson in a shortened seven-inning game Tuesday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field. Both sides of the ball excelled, as the heralded Duke pitching staff combined to allow just two hits while the offense scored in all six innings it appeared at the plate. The win moves the Blue Devils to 8-0 and continues the program’s best start to a season since 2008.

We stayed really, really disciplined with our approach, I was really proud of our team,” head coach Chris Pollard said after the game. “I thought it was a really well-played ballgame in all three phases.”

The biggest blast of the game came in the fifth inning, as Logan Bravo tattooed a ball 421 feet into the forest beyond the center-field fence for a grand slam. The bases-loaded shot extended the Duke lead to 12-0 and ensured the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to claw back into the game.

“It felt great,” Bravo said when he was asked how it felt to hit the towering homer. “I’ve been working on some things at the plate, so it’s nice to see it translate to the game.”

Duke (8-0) scored 12 runs through the first two innings of its 2023 matchup against Davidson, and it was largely the same story this year. Graduate transfer Ben Miller got the scoring started for the Blue Devils before a single out was recorded, sailing the second pitch he saw over the center-field wall to score two runs after a leadoff walk. Three more runners reached base in the inning but Duke couldn’t bring another across the plate.

The home team tacked on another in the second frame as graduate transfer Zac Morris got just enough of a two-out pitch to bounce it off the right-field foul pole. The opposite-field home run was Morris' fourth of the young campaign after the Suffolk, Va., native hit 10 last year in his final season at VMI.

Duke entered the game fourth in the country with 20 home runs, and adding the three big flies Tuesday will surely bump the power hitters from Durham higher on that leaderboard.

“Home runs are a product of having a good approach and really having a good plan when you get in the box, and we had that,” Pollard said. “You can't try to hit home runs [because if] you start trying to hit homeruns you won't hit home runs, so it's been a product of having a really good approach.”

Just as he did in Duke’s first midweek game, graduate student Tim Noone took the mound first for the Blue Devils Tuesday evening. He deployed a high-80s fastball and crippling off-speed pitches to make quick work of his four innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five before handing the ball over to junior Ryan Higgins.

The only adversity Noone faced in the contest came in the top of the third inning as a walk and a single put two runners on with two outs. The Babson transfer got Eli Putnam to line out to second base, though, and the threat was subdued with ease.

“It was just really workman-like,” Pollard said about Noone’s outing. “He did what he does, he worked fast, got the barrel moving and I thought it was a really effective outing.”

A couple one-out hits started a Duke rally in the bottom of the third inning, and freshman Macon Winslow capitalized with a searing ground ball down the third-base line. The double scored one and advanced Devin Obee to third base, who would eventually cross the plate by way of a Wallace Clark sacrifice fly to center field. The Blue Devils loaded the bases up but a Bravo groundout limited the damage to two.

Davidson (3-5) turned to Nick Shedleski to man the fourth, but Duke jumped on him immediately. Freshman outfielder AJ Gracia striped a line drive up the middle to score two, bumping his RBI count for the season up to 12, tied for the team lead with Bravo. A subsequent first-and-third double play off the bat of Winslow allowed the Wildcats to work out of some trouble, but another run scored in the process, extending the Blue Devil lead to 8-0 before the game moved to the fifth inning.

In the final frame of offense for the Blue Devils, Pollard started reaching deep into the bench. Three walks, a hit by pitch and RBI hits from reserves Harrison Rodgers, Jimmy Evans and Andrew Yu allowed Duke to put up its final five runs in the sixth inning.

“Anyone can do it on this team, it’s a really deep group,” Bravo said. “It’s super fun to get out there everyday and play with them and it's fun to see more guys get in there.”

Higgins, David Boisvert and Jimmy Romano each worked a scoreless inning of relief and combined for six punchouts before the game was called early.

“I thought Ryan Higgins looked as good as he's ever looked in a Duke uniform,” Pollard said, making sure to highlight his junior reliever who made his third appearance of the season against the Wildcats.

The Blue Devils will stay at home to take on Akron in a nonconference weekend series Friday through Sunday.


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