Duke baseball remains perfect to begin 2024 campaign

The Blue Devils have yet to lose this season as the program aims for new heights
Duke v Miami
Duke v Miami / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

The Duke baseball program has continued its ongoing revival under the leadership of manager Chris Pollard. Entering his 12th season with the team, he is 43 victories away from being the all-time leader in wins.

The Blue Devils traveled down to Conway, South Carolina for the second time in less than a year, participating in the Baseball at the Beach tournament, and stayed in its dominant form.

Junior Jonathan Santucci took the mound for the opening game of the tournament against Indiana, marking his first appearance since March 31, 2023 against Pittsburgh. The left-handed pitcher made the most out of his return, impressively pitching five scoreless innings while striking out seven Hoosiers.

In a pitchers’ duel, freshman Kyle Johnson broke the stalemate by connecting with a double down the left field line for his first collegiate hit. Johnson would then score the first run on the season for the Blue Devils when Wallace Clark connected to right-center field for a double.

Duke surged ahead thanks to back-to-back solo home runs in the sixth inning by senior Alex Stone and graduate Logan Bravo.

Bravo, a graduate transfer from Harvard, led the Blue Devils with three hits and two RBI.

Sophomore Tyler Albright’s home-run in the seventh gave Duke a 6-3 lead it would not reliquish.

Charlie Beilenson, who set the single-season appearance record with 39 in 2023, recorded the first save of the season with 2.2 innings of solid work.

Saturday’s matchup against George Mason marked the first meeting between the programs since 1988. The Patriots, a member of the Atlantic 10, were coming off a 26-0 loss to Coastal Carolina on Friday.

Gracia’s first three collegiate hits, all home runs, helped the Blue Devils secure a commanding 23-5 victory.

It's the fifth time under Pollard that Duke scored over 20 runs in a game, with four of those games occurring since the start of the 2023 season. Sophomore Andrew Healy, who had a 2.32 ERA in 19 appearances last season, got his first start of the season.

He threw three innings, recording four strikeouts and allowing three runs.

The Blue Devils exploded for eight runs in the first inning highlighted by Devin Obee recording the first inside the park home run by Duke since 2019. After going 1-for-4 against Indiana, Kyle Johnson took the mound in the fourth inning and kept the Patriots offense at bay, earning his first collegiate victory.

The Blue Devils’ combined 29 runs after their first two games represented their highest scoring start to a season since the 1998 campaign, which was 30 runs in two games against Ohio State and Tennessee, leading to a 15-0 start to the season. 

In a rematch of the 2023 Conway Regional against Coastal Carolina, Duke wanted to set the tone early. Zac Morris, a graduate transfer from VMI, took the first pitch by Coastal’s Ryan Lynch deep into right center to put the Blue Devils up, 1-0.

After the Chanticleers tied up the game in the bottom of the first, Ben Miller put the Blue Devils ahead for good in the third inning with a two-run home run to left field.

Sophomore Aidan Weaver earned the victory after pitching 2.1 innings and allowing one unearned run.

After going through four other pitchers, Beilenson got his second save of the season. The Los Angeles, CA nat 2.1 innings and struck out two of the seven batters he faced.

Duke would then beat Liberty in its return to Durham and sweep Northwestern.

The Blue Devils will host Davidson on Tuesday afternoon before a weekend series against Akron.