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Aaron Schoonmaker

Duke rebounds in ACC tourney with 'complete ballgame'

Posted May 22

— Duke “picked a great time to play the most complete ballgame of the year.”

That was how head coach Chris Pollard opened his postgame press conference following a 6-0 win in their second game of pool play at the ACC tournament in Greensboro.

Hard to argue – especially in contrast to the game the Blue Devils played the day before. Also hard to argue considering wins this weekend are what Duke needs if they have any hopes of making the NCAA tournament.

Once again, it all started on the mound for Duke as senior Drew Van Orden threw his first career complete game shutout. Asked what was working on the mound, Van Orden replied, “just everything.”

“Two words: Drew Van Orden,” said Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall before second-guessing himself and noting it is actually three words. “We couldn’t solve him. He was really the story of the game for me."

Van Orden’s final line: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 121 TP.

“I struggled the last two weeks a little bit so it was good to try and come back and give the team everything I had and give them a chance to win," Van Orden said. “The defense played great behind me and coach called great pitches.”

But pitching has been the one thing that has kept Duke competitive all year. On Thursday the bats woke up in a BIG way.

A day after Pollard said their approach was awful, the team responded with perfect execution. Yes, there were 14 hits and three home runs, but it was more than that for the Blue Devils.

Pollard said Wednesday the game plan was to hit the ball on the ground and challenge the infielders. The team hit into just three ground outs. On Thursday, four of the first five hitters put the ball on the ground and sure enough, the second batter of the game, Andy Perez, got an infield single out of it.

“We had one of the most dialed-in rounds of BP today I can remember us having and guys worked hard to make adjustments,” Pollard said. “I thought our approach was very good.”

What’s even better for Duke, is they were able to finish. After blowing a 2-0 lead Wednesday, the Blue Devils piled on Thursday.

Duke took a 2-0 lead into the 7th inning against Georgia Tech. In each of the final three innings, the leadoff man reached base and in all three innings, the lead runner came around to score.

In all, four different Duke players recorded at least one RBI and five different Devils scored a run. Individually, Andy Perez went 3-for-5 with a home run and Ryan Deitrich stayed hot going 4-for-5 with a home run and two RBI’s.

“We got very timely hitting and we were very good with our situational hitting,” Pollard said.

And it would be hard not to point out the play of shortstop Kenny Koplove. Overcoming a tough day at the plate, the 6-spot was tested nine times Thursday – in the hole, up the middle, choppers, routine balls, every way possible. He was perfect and did it with a confident flair.

Even after their best game, however, Duke still needs help if they are going to make it to the championship game Sunday. Clemson controls their own destiny by virtue of winning their first two pool play games. Duke now needs to beat Miami Saturday and have Georgia Tech beat Clemson Friday in order to win a three-way tiebreaker (best regular season in-conference win percentage).

Next up for Duke is their pool play finale against Miami on Saturday at 11 a.m.

“We’ll spend the next 48 hours trying to put together a good plan,” Pollard said. ” We will practice, we will get in a workout in the weight room and use that tomorrow to try to carry forward into Saturday, and go out there and compete one pitch at a time.”

3 Comments

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  • vt94hokies May 23, 2:18 p.m.

    Duke has had a great season. Basketball and football especially. Baseball is on the rise.

  • superflames May 23, 10:30 a.m.

    go get 'em boys

  • Duke1977 May 22, 10:02 p.m.

    “Two words: Drew Van Orden,” said Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall.

    "Two words?" LOL! Sounds like a Yogi Berra or Joe Biden comment.

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