Series victory over No. 1 Wake Forest highlights opening of Duke baseball season

The Blue Devils are rolling on the diamond to begin the baseball season

Duke manager Chris Pollard
Duke manager Chris Pollard / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

After going undefeated in the opening weekend tournament in Conway, South Carolina, Duke started a ten-game home-stand with a close victory against Liberty.

Tim Noone got the win in his debut with the Blue Devils with Charlie Beilenson getting his third save of the young season. Three batters, led by leadoff hitter Zac Morris, had multiple hits in the game.

Northwestern came to town for a weekend series, and left feeling a little black and blue. The Wildcats were outscored 30-11 in the series, with only its Friday starting staying on the mound past the fourth inning.

Duke hit four home runs over the weekend, while collecting six stolen bases. The 20-9 victory to close the series gave Duke’s its best start to the season since a 10-0 start in 2008.

The Davidson Wildcats were the next team to try to knock off the Blue Devils, but Noone held the Wildcats to one hit in four innings of work. The offensive attack for Duke continued to cause issues for opposing pitchers.

By the start of the fifth inning, Davidson was sending out their sixth pitcher and had already surrendered nine hits and walked seven. With the game ending after the top of the seventh inning, Duke won 17-0.

The final non-conference weekend series was up next on the docket, with the Akron Zips playing Duke for the first time ever. Their first introduction to this Blue Devils lineup wasn’t a pleasant one, with Duke tagging starting pitcher Jared Schaeffer for six runs off nine hits in just the first four innings.

Duke’s nine-game winning streak came to an end in the Saturday game, with Akron scoring three runs in the top of the sixth to take the 4-3 victory. Duke rebounded with a complete performance and Charlie Beilenson getting a three-inning save.

A 28-2 drubbing of Appalachian State got Duke ready for the top-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The first game of the series was an even matchup until the fourth inning, AJ Garcia hit back-to-back home runs to give Duke the 8-5 win.

Wake rebounded in game two victory, striking out the Blue Devils 20 times. With the series on the line, and a possible spot in the top ten, Duke got off to a 9-2 lead after the top of the fifth. Although they gave up six runs to the Deacs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth inning, an Alex Stone single and Charlie Beilenson save gave Duke the 10-8 victory.

The 13-2 start and a 6-1 record against teams in the Top 50 of RPI gave Duke the number six ranking in the latest poll. As the old saying goes, games are not won on paper. 

This was evident with Rider getting their second win of the season on March 12th, scoring the first six runs of the game to cruise to 6-2 victory. The Wednesday game was starting to look like the same, with Rider heading into the bottom of the first with a 4-0 lead. It appeared at that point the message was sinking in, with Duke scoring the 18 unanswered runs to win 18-4. This included 10 runs in the bottom of the first, none of which were scored via the long ball.

Jack Coombs Field will be the site of the latest top-10 match-up. The Tigers come into this series with a 15-1 record, their only loss to Kennesaw State. Duke will need to rely on their pitching staff and .339 batting average to force Clemson into committing errors. The Tigers rank 13th with committing 24 errors in the field.