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Duke lives, knocks Oral Roberts out of Norman Regional

NORMAN, Okla. – Duke (40-19) baseball kept their postseason hopes alive Saturday afternoon from L. Dale Mitchell Park, defeating Oral Roberts (27-32-1) 6-2 in the first elimination game of the regional. The Blue Devils earned their 40th win of the season, the second time in program history they have reached that goal, both with head coach Chris Pollard in charge.

Junior Devin Obee continued his hot streak of recent weeks, opening the scoring for the Blue Devils in the top of the fourth inning, singled to center field to score Alex Stone from second base, 1-0. In the top of the sixth inning, Chase Krewson doubled down the line in left field to score Stone from third and double the lead before that Wallace Clark hit a double to left center field to score Krewson from third.

Later in the sixth inning, Jimmy Evans hit a two-run home run to right field to make the lead 5-0. In the bottom of the inning, Oral Roberts hit a solo home run to narrow Duke’s lead. The Blue Devils added a run in the top of the eighth inning, when Obee hit a solo home run to right center field, his 16th of the season.

Junior Jonathan Santucci made his first start in nearly a month on Saturday, working two innings with one hit allowed. Santucci passed the ball to the sophomore James Tallon who worked a clean inning, ahead of the freshmen Kyle Johnson covered three innings in his first action in more than a week. Johnson first retired three batters and allowed one run Tim Nobody And Charlie Beilenson closed out the final three frames to end the ball game.

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • Devin Obee singled to center field to score Alex Stone from second in the top of the fourth inning, 1-0.
  • In the top of the sixth inning Chase Krewson doubled down the line on the left side and scored Stone from third. Wallace Clark hit a double to left center field to score Krewson from third. Jimmy Evans hit a two-run home run to right field, 5-0.
  • Oral Roberts cut Duke’s lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, 5-1.
  • In the top of the eighth inning, Obee hit a solo home run to right center field, 6-1.
  • The Golden Eagles cut the Blue Devils’ lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, 6-2.

COMMENTS

  • For the second time in program history, both under head coach Chris Pollard, Duke has eclipsed the 40-win mark on the year. It’s the first time since 2018, when the Blue Devils set the program record with 45 wins.
  • To graduate Jimmy Evans made his first start of the season on Saturday and finished the day 1-for-4 with his first home run in a Blue Devils uniform.
  • Duke improved to 197-64 (.755) when scoring first and 216-47 (.821) when scoring three-plus runs in an inning since 2016.
  • To graduate Zac Morris collected a three-hit day on Saturday with a triple. Morris is right now Ben Molenaar for the team leader with his 24th multi-hit game and his second three-hit day.
  • Senior Alex Stone produced a two-hit day at the plate, collecting his 23rd multi-hit game of the season.
  • Junior Devin Obee finished the day 2-for-4 with a solo home run to lead off the eighth inning for the Blue Devils. It was Obee’s 16th of the season and 19th multi-hit game of the season.
  • Junior Jonathan Santucci returned to the mound for the first time in more than four weeks, working two innings and allowing one hit in his controlled start.
  • Freshman Kyle Johnson gave the bullpen some length on Saturday, working three innings with two hits and one run allowed. Johnson added three strikeouts to his line in his return to the mound after a week off.

QUOTES

  • “First and foremost, congratulations to the Folmar and Oral Roberts coach on another great year. To be back in the NCAA tournament a year after taking his team to Omaha as a mid-major is an incredible job, and they do things the best way.” I told him in the right way before the match that I was looking forward to competing against him, because I’ve been following what he’s been doing from a distance, and it’s so impressive.” – Head coach Chris Pollard‘s opening statement after Duke’s win over Oral Roberts in the elimination game.
  • “It is very fitting that these three guys are standing here with me because they have all meant so much to this program. I want to start with Jonathan Santucci. We were preparing to play Georgia Tech almost three weeks ago now and Friday night we are standing in front of our pitching coach a few minutes before the game Brady Kirkpatrick comes downstairs and says Jonathan has had a rib problem. Then we found out he was leaving. No one understands how hard he worked to get back to this moment. Jonathan will be a first-round draft pick here in July. So many guys in his position, and I couldn’t have blamed him if he had chosen to do this, but a lot of these guys in his position would have said I had a great year, I was an All-ACC player from the first team , I’m going to close it out and get ready for the draft. He thinks this program is so important. It was hours of physical therapy, and it’s quite exhausting to be honest getting back to this point. The performance was great, but what did that mean for our team that he showed how much he wanted to be back and get the ball.” – On the battles that Jonathan Santucci has overcome to pitch in the postseason for the first time in his career.
  • ‘What can you say Kyle Johnson. He is the best two-way player in the country. He is certainly one of the most talented freshmen who is having an incredible year. He didn’t have a chance to play in the ACC Tournament, so he was rusty for a week, but to come into that spot and be so electric was incredible. We had talked this morning about doubling up on our pick moves and inside moves to second base, and he executed that to perfection with the tying run at second base. Just tremendous maturity and competitive makeup from him. Guys will tell you to a guy that he is absolutely one of the best competitors out there, and he showed that today.” – On the maturity and growth of Kyle Johnson this season.
  • “Last, Jimmy Evans. He has been an unsung hero this season. He came off the bench during the ACC semifinals last week to score the tying run, then hit a home run today. I think the guys on our bus would tell you, if anyone deserves this moment, it’s him.” – Right Now Jimmy Evans hit his home run today.

NEXT ONE

  • Duke will face the loser of the Oklahoma-UConn game tonight. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:00 PM ET from L. Dale Mitchell Park.

For more information about Duke Baseball, follow the Blue Devils on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching “https://goduke.com/news/2024/6/1/DukeBASE.”

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