Duke Stops Baseball 4-1 In Series Opener
RALEIGH, N.C. Get to a good pitcher early or you might not get to him at all. Duke took that advice to heart Friday night at Doak Field at Dail Park, striking for three first-inning runs of Wolfpack ace Clayton Shunick and riding that cushion to a 4-1 victory in the first game of a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series.
Duke improved to 23-10 with the win, 5-10 in the ACC. NC State, which had its conference winning streak snapped at four games, fell to 21-11 and 8-7.
Shunick (3-4) worked a career-high eight innings and settled down after the first. In all, he allowed just four runs on four hits, walking two and striking out eight. After the first inning, he allowed just one run on two hits over seven innings, but the damage was done in the first. Gabriel Saade led off and walked on a 3-2 pitch. Alex Hassan took Shunick’s first pitch in the ribs to put men on first and second. Matt Williams singled through the left side of the infield to load the bases with none out.
Nate Freiman, the offensive star for the Blue Devils, sent a double down the right-field line, driving in two runs, and Jeremy Gould hit a fly ball to deep center field to score the third run of the inning.
Duke starter Andrew Wolcott (3-2) made the three runs stand up through six innings. He allowed just one run, on a bases-loaded walk to Tommy Foschi in the fourth inning. Wolcott yielded just three hits, walked three and struck out five. Michael Ness worked the final three innings and allowed only a harmless single to Matt Payne leading off the eighth inning. Ness then got Jeremy Synan to ground into a double play to take the air out of the inning. Ness picked up his second save of the season.
The story of the game was the pitching. After the big first inning, Shunick allowed a walk in the second inning and a two-out single in the third, but was untouchable after that until the eighth, retiring 15 men in a row before Freiman hit a two-out solo home run to left for the game’s final run.
Wolcott allowed a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning to Payne, and a one-out double in the second to Devon Cartwright, and loaded the bases and allowed a run in the fourth on a single, a hit batter and a pair of walks. He retired the side in order in the third, fifth and sixth, setting down the final seven men he faced. Ness issued a walk and the single to Payne, but cruised through his three innings.
NC State and Duke will play the second game of this weekend’s series Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and on the internet at gopack.com through the Pack Pass package.