MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Junior Andrew Istler limited the Thundering Herd to one run on three hits while redshirt junior Chris Marconcini amassed a season-high four RBI to lead the Duke baseball team past Marshall, 5-2, in its second game of the Caravelle Resort Tournament Saturday morning at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
A right-hander from Wellington, Fla., Istler (1-2) worked 6.1 efficient innings to earn his first victory of the season. In addition to facing just one batter over the minimum heading to the seventh, Istler struck out five Marshall hitters and walked just one.
“I thought Istler was really, really good,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “He’s pitched well and it was good for him to get the win today. I thought he was lights out. The way [Marshall] swung the bats late in the game showed how good Istler was. That’s a great job of getting better from one start to the next. I thought he held his velocity better. He was stronger late into the game and that was a really quality effort.”
Marconcini continued his torrid start to the 2014 campaign as the Duke (6-4) first baseman extended his hit streak to nine games with a 2-for-5 outing against Marshall (3-6). The Brentwood, Tenn., native drove in a run with a single in the third and followed with a mammoth three-run homer to center in the seventh.
“We had several guys really swing the bat well,” Pollard added. “We were far from perfect with our offensive execution. Obviously Marconcini hits the big three-run home run, which gave us some breathing room. There are still a lot of things we need to do better offensively. But some guys are seeing the baseball well right now. We got a few other guys we need to get going. But the thing about it is, I think we’re competing really well.”
In the top of the third, Duke rallied with two outs to plate the first run of the game. Rosenfeld and junior Grant McCabe registered consecutive hits to kick start the frame before Marconcini lined the RBI base knock over the outstretched glove of Marshall second baseman Andrew Dundon.
Five-straight Blue Devils reached base to start the seventh as Duke’s tallied four runs to grow its lead to 5-0. McCabe drew his team-leading 10th walk of the year and Rosenfeld was struck by the pitch to put the first two runners on. Marconcini proceeded to smash Brandyn Smittinger’s 1-1 offering off the batter’s eye in center field for his third home run of the season, bolstering Duke’s advantage to 4-0. With the bases loaded, senior Mark Lumpa picked up the RBI and Duke’s final run with a ground ball to the right side.
Marshall responded with two runs in the bottom portion of the inning to narrow the margin to 5-2. Dundon registered his first home run of the season, a solo shot to left, and Eric Escobedo knocked an RBI double to right for the Herd.
The Herd threatened again the eighth, loading the bases with no one out on consecutive singles and a walk. Senior Robert Huber entered the game and worked out the jam, aided by a Ryan Deitrich bullet to home plate to get a Marshall runner attempting to score on a sacrifice fly. Huber returned in the ninth and struck out the side for his second save of the season.
“It was a great job competing,” Pollard said. “Then [Huber] comes in the ninth and strikes out the side. It was guys competing, not giving in to the moment. We haven’t played our best baseball by any stretch, and we didn’t play it today, but guys are very competitive now. When you’ve got that you can do a lot.”
Duke wraps up the Caravelle Resort Tournament Sunday. The Blue Devils face host-team Coastal Carolina at 5 p.m. in the weekend finale.