UNC, Duke to open 3-game series at Coombs Field Friday
Duke will host No. 18 North Carolina in a three-game ACC baseball series at Jack Coombs Field beginning Friday, March 28 at 6 p.m.
The Blue Devils (14-12, 4-5 ACC) and Tar Heels (15-9, 5-4 ACC) will also meet at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Coombs Field.
Today’s game marks the 279th meeting between Duke and North Carolina. The Tar Heels have won nine straight against the Blue Devils and lead the all-time series — which dates to 1891 when Duke was known as Trinity College — 182-93-3. UNC swept the Blue Devils in a three-game series in Chapel Hill last season and at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 2012.
UNC’s last visit to Jack Coombs Field came in 2008. The Tar Heels took two out of three for their seventh consecutive series win over the Blue Devils. Duke’s last series win came in 2010 in Durham. The Blue Devils won two of three in Chapel Hill in 2009 and two of three at the DBAP in 2010.
The pitching matchups for the weekend series features six righthanded starters. On the mound today will be Duke’s Drew Van Orden (1-2, 4.28) against UNC’s Trent Thornton (5-0, 1.93). Andrew Istler (3-3, 1.73) will get Saturday’s start for Duke against Benton Moss (2-1, 2.51) and Duke’s Michael Matuella (0-0, 0.00) will face UNC’s Zac Gallen (2-2, 4.29) in the finale on Sunday.
The Tar Heels have lost three straight, getting swept in a Saturday doubleheader at home by Georgia Tech and falling to Winthrop at home on Wednesday.
The rebuilding Blue Devils lead ACC in team earned run average in league games at 2.39 and, along with top-ranked Virginia, are the only two teams in the league with ERAs under 3.00 in ACC play.
Offensive leaders for Duke include Matt Berezo (.450 batting average), Mark Lumpa (.357, team-leading 20 walks and .465 on-base percentage) and ACC home runs (6) and RBI (28) leader Chris Marconcini. Catcher Mike Rosenfeld has thrown out eight baserunners on steal attempts and brings a team-best eight-game hitting streak into the series.
Duke’s Jordan Betts leads all active ACC players with 60 career doubles.
Duke is 12-0 when leading after six innings, thanks in large part to the efforts of senior closer Robert Huber, who’s fourth in the ACC with four saves.
On the mound, Istler’s 1.73 ERA ranks fifth best in the ACC, and Matuella has not allowed a baserunner in 10 innings of work this season, striking out 19.
Former Jordan High School star Wood Myers, a freshman, leads UNC’s offense with a .320 batting average. No other Tar Heel is batting above .300 and the team has combined for just 10 home runs.
The Blue Devils are coming off a stretch of 14 games in 16 days, including three consecutive Saturday doubleheaders. Duke posted a 7-7 record during that span.
NOTES — All three games of the UNC-Duke series will be televised live online by ESPN3. ... Duke is playing the series at Jack Coombs Field on West Campus (near Cameron Indoor Stadium) because the DBAP remains unavailable as renovations continue to prepare the downtown stadium for next week’s Durham Bulls season opener.