Junior lefthander Jeb Bargfeldt delivered another solid start, Miami’s offense built on its momentum from the series opener, and the host Hurricanes clinched a crucial ACC series with a 7-0 victory over Duke Sunday.
The Hurricanes (15-16, 7-7 ACC), who scored five runs in the ninth inning Saturday to walk off with a win, scored four in the first to jump out to an early lead they would not relinquish.
Miami, who out-hit Duke 9-8 Sunday, goes for its first sweep of the season Monday night at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
“It was a big win for us today, knowing that you’ve won the series and that you played well,” head coach Jim Morris said. “We’ve won three games in a row, and we’re 3-0 in the second half [of the season]. That’s what I’m talking about to our team.”
Junior Carl Chester connected on a three-run home run in the first inning off Duke starter Adam Laskey to put Miami ahead early.
Bargfeldt (3-2), who delivered the best start of his collegiate career last Saturday night against Wake Forest, was once again impressive for the Hurricanes.
The Owasso, Okla., native scattered six hits over five shutout innings. He struck out three batters, walked two, and lowered his ERA in five conference starts to a team-best 1.42.
“I have to give credit to the defense,” Bargfeldt said. “They made a lot of great plays today. I certainly didn’t have great stuff, but I felt like if I challenged them and they put the ball in play, the defense behind me is going to make the plays.”
After the first two Miami batters of the game reached on a walk and error, Chester crushed an 0-2 pitch from Laskey (1-2) over the fence in left for his third homer of the year.
“I tried to lay two bunts down for hits, those went foul,” Chester said. “[The home run] was a changeup that kind of just stayed over the plate that I got the barrel on.”
Miami added to is lead when junior Hunter Tackett connected on an RBI single through the left side to score senior Johnny Ruiz, who singled.
Less than 24 hours after the team’s emotional, come-from-behind win over the Blue Devils, Chester said he “definitely” felt a difference Sunday in the game’s first inning.
“Last night was a huge win for us,” said Chester, who had the first four-RBI game of his career. “To come out and put a four-spot in the first inning really got the game off on the right foot for us.”
Laskey recorded just one out before being relieved by Matt Mervis in the first inning. Mervis avoided any further damage for Duke (16-17, 5-9 ACC) when he recorded the final two outs of the first, holding the Miami lead at 4-0.
Bargfeldt worked his way out of damage for the entire afternoon. He stranded Duke runners in the first and second, avoided any damage with the bases loaded in the third, and did not pitch a clean inning until the fourth.
The southpaw struck out Duke’s Peter Zyla to escape the bases-loaded, two-out jam, celebrating with a fist pump in front of 2,772 fans.
“I need to be more efficient,” Bargfeldt said. “There were too many times where I fell behind in the count, and I’m forced to throw a strike when a hitter may be able to sit on a certain pitch or take a better swing me.”
Miami added to its lead in the fifth with three runs off reliever Karl Blum.
With two runners in scoring position after back-to-back walks and a sacrifice bunt, senior Randy Batista came through with an RBI single through the left side.
A perfect squeeze play by James Davison scored Barr from third to make it 6-0 in favor of the Hurricanes, and another single – this one from Chester – pushed the lead to 7-0.
With Bargfeldt battling a high pitch count, Miami’s bullpen pitched the final four innings and held the Blue Devils off the scoreboard.
Redshirt sophomore Keven Pimentel tossed two scoreless innings, sophomore Andrew Cabezas pitched a scoreless eighth and sophomore Frankie Bartow a scoreless ninth.
The two teams return to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field Monday night for the finale. First pitch for the contest, slated for broadcast on ESPNU and WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 7 p.m.