Game One was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel and it was the 6.1 innings Miami starter Eric Erickson was on the mound. Erickson wound up getting charged with four earned runs, going along with his four strikeouts.
The story of the night was Duke starter Marcus Stroman. The junior righthander struck out thirteen Hurricanes in seven innings of action.
The Blue Devils jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, after picking up a run in both the second and third innings. Duke tacked on another in the sixth, pushing the lead to, 3-0.
Miami had its shots early, but failed to convert until the top of the seventh when a Julian Santos fly ball was misplayed in left field. Santos made it to second and two plays later was driven home on a Jarred Mederos RBI single. It would be the only run UM would score, after stranding runners the first four innings, failing to seize any momentum. The Canes eventually fell, 5-1, dropping their first ACC contest of the season.
Saturday was an official, all-out pitcher’s duel, with Miami’s Eric Whaley coming strong. Whaley went eight full innings, struck out two and walked three.
The Canes got on the board in the top of the fourth when Brad Feiger and Esteban Tresgallo had back-to-back singles. From there, Stephen Perez bunted his way on to load the bases. Michael Broad roped one down the rightfield line, caught in foul territory but deep enough to score Feiger for the early 1-0 Miami lead.
Duke picked one up in the seventh after Jordan Betts his a lead-off double down the right field line, eventually reaching third on a Whaley throwing error. He came home and tied the game on an RBI single from Andrew Istler.
The Canes took the lead for good in the top of the eighth. Broad was hit by a pitch, leading off the inning. Mederos moved Broad to second with a sacrifice bunt and a Tyler Palmer single brought him home.
Whaley got the first out of the ninth, marking his longest outing, but was replaced by closer E.J. Encinosa after allowing two baserunners. Encinosa struck out the next two batters, earning his fifth save of the season and giving the Canes the 2-1 victory.
Sunday’s rubber match proved all Canes, as Miami rolled, 7-1. The Canes got on the board in the first when Dale Carey walked and catcher Peter O’Brien smashed one to the gap in right-center, easily scoring Carey. The duo struck again in the third after a Carey triple and an O’Brien home run, giving UM the 3-0 lead after three.
Miami picked up one in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eight – all before Duke crossed the plate once. Feiger led off the seventh with a single and was moved over to second after a bunt by Tresgallo. Perez singled to shallow right, followed by a Broad RBI groundout. Perez finally scored on a wild pitch, giving Miami the 6-0 lead after seven.
In the eighth it was again O’Brien with an RBI single to right, driving in Chantz Mack, who tripled. O’Brien finished the fay 4-for-5 with four RBI.
Steven Ewing held it down for the Canes on the mound. The junior left-hander went six innings, finishing with five strikeouts and allowing five hits.
Eric Nedeljkovic entered in the eighth, allowing a double and a walk to the first two Duke batters, but retired the next two before allowing an RBI single and giving the Blue Devils their lone score of the day. A.J. Salcines was called up in the ninth to close it out for the Canes, en route to the 7-1 victory.
Miami entered the week No. 10 and the new rankings will be released later in the day. Will the one loss drop the Canes? We’ll see.
Next up, a Wednesday night showdown with Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton before returning to The Light to host a three-game stint against Maryland this weekend.