FSU slips past Duke in series opener; UNC rained out
No. 4 Florida State scored three runs in the third and the Seminoles’ pitching staff held Duke scoreless for the second time this season as FSU won the series opener 3-0 Thursday night at Dick Howser Stadium.
Duke needs to win at least one of the two remaining games in the series or have UNC lose at least two of three at Miami and Wake Forest lose a game in its three-game series against Virginia to clinch a top six slot in the ACC and avoid the single-elimination playoff round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro on Tuesday.
Wake and UNC were both rained out Thursday night and will play doubleheaders today. UNC was guaranteed a spot in the 10-team ACC Tournament field Thursday night when Pittsburgh lost to Notre Dame. Duke has been guaranteed a top 10 spot at least for a while. The Blue Devils have the fourth best conference record in the ACC.
Luke Weaver (8-3), Gage Smith and Jameis Winston combined for the shutout. Weaver held the Blue Devils scoreless over seven innings of work, while Smith and Winston tossed an inning each in relief. Georgia Tech is the only other team to keep Duke (31-22, 15-13 ACC) off the scoreboard this season, blanking the Blue Devils 1-0 April 6 in Atlanta.
Duke’s Andrew Istler (8-7) pitched well in the loss, facing four batters or fewer in every inning except the third. The Wellington, Fla., native surrendered three runs on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
Istler faced the minimum over the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. John Sansone ripped the opening pitch for double, his 13th of the season, and took third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, Danny De La Calle drove him in with a single through the left side. Following a Josh Delph walk, Casey Smit added an RBI single and DJ Stewart drove in a run with a grounder to the right side to put Florida State (40-13, 20-8 ACC) on top by three.
Istler was outstanding the rest of the way. He allowed just three baserunners over his final three innings of work, keeping the margin at three to give the Blue Devils a chance.
In the fourth, Duke’s Jordan Betts was stranded after a leadoff double and in the seventh, Duke loaded the bases, but Ryan Deitrich was robbed of a potential RBI single when FSU shortstop Justin Gonzalez snared his line drive.
Duke and Florida State meet in the second game of the series today at Dick Howser Stadium. Duke righthander Drew Van Orden (5-4, 3.30 ERA) takes the mound opposite FSU’s Mike Compton (6-1, 3.06).