Van Orden, Duke take down N.C. State ace Rodon
Carlos Rodon would say he threw the only pitch that David Perkins, Duke’s seldom used senior, could hit off him.
Perkins saw a smirk on Rodon’s face in the second inning which tipped him off that N.C. State’s soon-to-be first-round pick might be eschewing his magical slider in favor of a fastball.
The fastball came and Perkins, who didn’t have an extra-base hit this season, slammed it over the Durham Bulls Athletic Park’s centerfield wall for a solo home run.
That hit proved to be the only run Duke would need as dominant starting pitcher Drew Van Orden threw eight scoreless innings in the Blue Devils’ 2-0 ACC baseball win Friday night.
“I’m happy I was able to provide a sparkplug for us, get our offense going a little bit,” said Perkins, who had only 20 at bats this season prior to his blast off Rodon. “Luckily it was enough for us to pull out a victory.”
A junior left-hander, Rodon is projected to be among the first picks in the June Major League Baseball draft. He showed his talent by striking out 12 Blue Devils over his 7 2/3 innings, setting the N.C. State school mark for career strikeouts in the process.
Duke (19-16, 8-8 in ACC) touched Rodon for six hits while taking advantage of three walks. N.C. State’s two errors, especially Wolfpack right fielder Garrett Suggs’ third-inning miscue, helped Duke score an unearned run.
“When I leave the ball up I beat myself,” Rodon said. “I don’t know who it was that hit the home run. The ball’s up. You throw a slider there he’s out. You throw a fastball down, he’s out. That’s probably the only ball he’ll ever hit off me, so that happens.”
Duke recorded a pair of first-inning singles before Rodon escaped the jam without allowing a run.
Perkins led off the second inning by falling behind 1-2 in the count. Some mental moves after N.C. State catcher Brett Austin signaled the pitch to Rodon set the stage for the big hit.
“Austin I guess put down a sign,” Perkins said. “Rodon kind of smirked at him and nodded his head. I was sitting slider initially. Then I figured he was going to change it up. He kind of tipped his pitch a little bit. So I was looking for a fastball and I was ready for it. I put my foot down and put a good swing on it.”
A Duke mistake in the top of the third inning put the Wolfpack in position to tie the game before a stellar play wiped out the scoring chance.
With Duke up 1-0, N.C. State’s Nathan Hood lifted a routine fly ball to left field. Duke’s Ryan Deitrich camped under it then misjudged the ball as it ticked off his glove for a two-base error. Suggs followed with a single to left putting runners at first and third with no outs.
Trea Turner lifted a fly ball to short left field which Dietrich caught for the out. Hood broke for the plate and Dietrich fired the ball on the fly home to Rosenfeld, who tagged out Hood for the double play.
“Rather than drop his head or feel sorry for himself,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said of Deitrich, “he does a great job of atoning for it later in the inning. That ended up being a huge play in the ball game.”
Duke doubled its lead in the third inning when Rosenfeld singled to right and scampered to third when the ball eluded Suggs in right field for a two-base error. One out later, Jordan Betts singled through the drawn-in infield for a 2-0 Duke lead.
That proved plenty for Van Orden (3-3), who limited the Wolfpack (19-14, 8-8) to three hits over his eight innings. N.C. State didn’t get a hit after the fourth inning as Van Orden retired 14 of the last 15 he faced and struck out 11.
“He threw strikes,” Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said. “Every time you stepped up it was strike one. He commanded his fastball to the outside of the plate. We didn’t make a very good adjustment away.”
Duke closer Robert Huber hit the first batter of the ninth inning with a pitch, but retired the next three batters to record his sixth save.