Duke baseball loses second straight weekend series in conference play

Despite standout performances, the Blue Devils drop close games to NC State

Duke v Miami
Duke v Miami / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

The Duke baseball team hit the road to Raleigh this past weekend for a showdown against conference rival NC State and, in a hard-fought battle within the ACC foe, the Blue Devils fell short, suffering two narrow losses to the Wolfpack in the series.

The Friday opener was a back-and-forth affair throughout the entire game.

Wallace Clark scored Andrew Yu on a sacrifice fly in the second inning to start the scoring.

After back-to-back ground outs in the bottom of the 5th gave State the lead, Logan Bravo led off the top of the 6th with a home run to right field to retake the lead.

“We had seven hard hit outs today, but we just spotted them too many free bases,” manager Chris Pollard said.

Jonathan Santucci struck out five batters in 5.1 innings, but Gabriel Nard was charged with the loss after allowing Jacob Cozart to single to right field. This allowed Alec Makarewicz to score the game winning run from second.

Ryan Higgins took the mound for the Blue Devils on Saturday, facing off against Logan Whitaker.

Duke got out to an early 4-0 advantage, which included Wallace Clark hitting a solo home run to right field in the 2nd inning. Another home run, this time by AJ Garcia in the top of the 8th, would give the Blue Devils a commanding 8-2 lead.

Sending in Charlie Beilenson to try and get his ninth save of the season, but that wasn’t to be. A three-run home run by Pennington that followed Hogue reaching on a fielder’s choice gave State new life. A walk-off two-run home run gave the Wolfpack the 9-8 victory.

Going into Sunday knowing they had lost the weekend series was a first for Duke this season, so the Blue Devils wanted to end the series the right way.

Alex Stone would break a one-run tie in the third inning with his fifth home run on the season to lead off the 4th inning. Zac Morris would add his eighth long ball of the season to put the Blue Devils up 5-1.

Both would add a home run to their totals in the 7th inning. Stone’s shot to right center put him in a tie with Gregg Maluchinuk (1995-98) with 33 total home runs. Morris hit a grand slam with two outs to Duke the 13-2 victory.

“I also challenged our guys to be the toughest version of ourselves today and we responded today,” Pollard said after the game.

The win gave Pollard his 356th victory at Duke, moving him into a tie with Steve Traylor (1988-99) for second all-time in victories. He will look to break the tie this Tuesday as the Blue Devils will host Campbell, who entered the weekend ranked 22nd.