WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Duke baseball team totaled a season-high five home runs, including two from redshirt junior Aaron Cohn, and scored the game’s final five runs to eclipse Wake Forest, 8-6, Sunday afternoon at the Wake Forest Baseball Park. The victory extended Duke’s winning streak to nine consecutive games, its longest since winning 12 straight to start the 2008 season.
In addition to two solo home runs, Cohn also added a pair of doubles in his first career four-hit game. After redshirt junior Chris Marconcini tied the game at six-all with a three-run bomb in the seventh, redshirt senior Ryan Deitrich and junior Andy Perez each added a solo home run in the eighth and ninth, respectively, to give Duke its final margin of victory.
“We got some really big outs out of [Chris]Kono and Lewallyn,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “The job by Istler, he was lights out. Threw the ball great. [Huber] came in and had one of his most effective performances.”
In the bottom of the first, Charlie Morgan gave the Demon Deacons the early lead with a solo home run to right field. The homer was Morgan’s fourth of the season and the first allowed by Duke starter Michael Matuella.
Cohn’s 14th double of the season initiated Duke’s (28-17, 15-9 ACC) response in the second. After battling off several pitches, senior Matt Berezo hit a ball down the right field line which rolled under the glove of Wake Forest first baseman Matt Conway. Cohn came around to score on the error charged to Conway, tying the game a one-all.
After a scoreless third, Cohn sent Max Tishman’s 2-1 offering over the right field wall to start the fourth inning, giving Duke its first lead of the game, 2-1. The home run, which landed just shy of the scoreboard, was Cohn’s second of the season.
Matuella escaped a jam in the fourth but was unable to hold Wake Forest at bay in the fifth as the Demon Deacons plated four runs to stake a 5-2 advantage. A Kevin Jordan single started the rally, followed by bunt base hits from both Grant Shambley and Evan Stephens to load the bases. Conor Keniry drew the base-loaded walk to knot the score at 2-2, and Morgan added a two-run single to break the tie. Wake Forest scored its fourth and final run of the frame on a double-play ball up the middle.
Cohn greeted Wake Forest reliever Parker Dunshee with his second solo home run of the game, cutting the deficit to 5-3. Neither Dunshee nor Tishman had allowed a home run this season prior to facing Cohn, who registered his second and third home runs of the season.
Wake Forest regained the three-run advantage, manufacturing a run in the bottom half. Jordan singled for the second time, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Following a Shambley walk, Jordan was able to cross the plate on a double steal, just eluding the tag of catcher Mike Rosenfeld.
One swing of the bat undid the damage in the seventh. Senior Mark Lumpa singled for the second time and senior Jordan Betts walked for the fourth, setting the table for Marconcini. With two outs, the Duke rightfielder lifted his team-leading eighth homer of the season to once again tie the game, this time at 6-6.
Duke’s fourth home run of the game, this time off the bat of Ryan Deitrich, put the Blue Devils back on top 7-6 in the eighth. Deitrich drove his fourth home run of the season and second of the weekend over the left field wall. Perez’s first bomb of the season capped of the scoring in the top of the ninth, providing Duke a two-run margin.
“We just kept playing,” Pollard said. “We didn’t back down from the moment. We didn’t panic. We didn’t press. The park’s been playing small all weekend. Marconcini was due for an at bat like that. I’m proud of him. He had good at bats yesterday and came up with the really big one today. Deitrich’s seeing the ball well. I told our guys we would probably hit a lot of home runs if we played here on a regular basis. The guys are very comfortable. They see the ball well and really drove the baseball.”
Duke returns to action next Sunday, May 4, hosting Longwood in a non-conference series. The Blue Devils and Lancers are set for a Sunday doubleheader before meeting a third time Monday.