Pirates roll past Duke, 9-4

DURHAM, N.C. – Chris Holba tossed five scoreless frames of relief and No. 8 ECU scored five runs in the fifth inning on its way to a 9-4 win over Duke Tuesday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. With the win, the Pirates improve to 13-4 on the season while the Blue Devils fall to 10-9 overall.

 Holba (3-0) allowed two hits, walked one and fanned five in his five innings of work. The right-hander retired 14 of 17 batters faced to remain perfect in the win column. Starter Hunter Hood allowed three runs (all earned) on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in two innings. Sam Lanier (1.0 IP, 2 Ks), Evan Voliva (0.1 IP, 1 R) and Tyler Smith (0.2 IP, 1 K) also saw action in the contest.

 Karl Blum (1-1) took the loss surrendering two runs (both earned) on two walks and did not record an out on the mound Starter Graeme Stinson was touched for three runs (all earned) on five hits with a walk and seven punch outs in 4.1 innings. Duke also used four other arms out of the bullpen in James Ziemba (1.2 IP, 1 R), Nick Hendrix (1.0 IP, 1 R), Matt Mervis (1.0 IP, 2 Rs) and Colman Williams (1.0 IP).

 ECU pounded out 12 hits on the day getting at least one base knock from all starting nine batters. Turner Brown, Eric Tyler and Charlie Yorgen each had two hits to lead the team, while Luke Bolka and Yorgen both drove in a pair of runs.

 Jimmy Herron and Michael Smiciklas led the Blue Devils with two hits, while Herron, Zak Kone and Erickson Nichols each drove in runs.

 How It Happened:

Trailing 3-0 going to the top of the fifth inning, ECU scored five runs on four hits with four Duke wild pitches to take a 5-3 lead and never looked back. Bryant Packard and T.J. Riles led off the frame with singles before Dusty Baker’s infield bunt single plated Packed for the Pirates first run. After a double steal moved Riles to third and Baker to second, Yorgen’s RBI ground out to first scored Riles. Duke went to the pen for Blum, who threw the first of his two wild pitches allowing Baker to score and tying the game at three-all.

 The inning continued when Brown walked and then took second on a wild pitch. Travis Watkins drew the second walk for the stanza chasing Klum from the game. Ziemba’s first pitch of the game was wild moving both runners up 90 feet into scoring position. Bolka followed with an RBI ground out scoring Brown and Watkins darted home on another Ziemba wild pitch to cap the scoring at 5-3.

 Duke jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to Justin Bellinger’s RBI sac fly to right field. Herron started the frame with a walk then took second on Kone’s single to center. Two batters later Jack Labosky loaded the bases with an infield single before Bellinger’s sac fly plated Herron.

 The Blue Devils extended their lead to 3-0 after plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Nichols (single), Smiciklas (double) and Herron (RBI single) laced three consecutive hits making it a 2-0 ball game. Kone reached on a fielder’s choice scoring Smiciklas pushing Duke’s lead to three.

 ECU would score runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings pushing its lead to 9-3. Duke added a late run in the ninth on a Pirate error.

 Up Next:

The Pirates return to action this Friday, Mar. 17 when it plays host to Mercer in a three-game set. First pitch of the weekend is slated for 6:30 p.m. (ET).

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