Wake Forest Baseball Defeats Duke, 7-2, in Series Opener
Brian Holmes has allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of his past eight starts.
Brian Holmes has allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of his past eight starts.

May 13, 2011

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DURHAM, N.C. - Starter Brian Holmes pitched six shutout innings, and Pat Blair reached base six times to lead Wake Forest to a 7-2 defeat of Duke in the teams' series opener on Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

With the win, the Demon Deacons improve to 21-27 overall and 11-14 in the ACC. The Blue Devils drop to 23-27 overall and 5-20 in conference play.

Holmes (3-3) was brilliant once again for the Deacons, allowing just three hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in six innings of work. The sophomore lefty even managed to overcome an hour-long rain delay in the fourth inning. Holmes had thrown 73 pitches prior to the delay and finished with 115 on the night.

Holmes has now allowed one earned run or fewer in seven of his past eight starts. In the other start during that time frame he allowed just two earned runs.

Wake Forest spotted Holmes an early 3-0 lead with a run in the third and two more in the fourth. The Deacons then added four more insurance runs with a five-hit rally in the eighth inning before the Blue Devils plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Blair led the Deacons at the plate by reaching base safely in all six of his plate appearances on the night. The sophomore shortstop went 3-for-3 with a double, three walks and two runs scored.

Steven Brooks went 1-for-3 with three runs, an RBI and his 25th stolen base of the season. Matt Conway was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI, and Mac Williamson drove in two runs on the night.

The game was delayed for 1:01 due to rain and lightning in the area. The delay began at 7:35 p.m. with a runner on second with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. Play resumed at 8:36 p.m. with Holmes still on the mound. He quickly finished off the inning with a strikeout and pitched two more shutout frames before giving way to reliever Justin Van Grouw to start the seventh.

Van Grouw allowed both of the runs on the night, only one of which was earned. The righthander held the Blue Devils at bay in both the seventh and the eighth, but Duke put together a rally in the ninth.

Michael Dimock came on in the ninth to strike out the side and end the game.

The Deacons got on the board first with a run in the third inning. Brooks drew a leadoff walk, stole second and then moved to third on a single by Conway. Williamson followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center to bring home Brooks.

Duke threatened in the third inning, putting two on with nobody out. However, Holmes battled back to get three straight outs, including a nice ranging catch from centerfielder Brooks, to end the inning.

Wake Forest pushed two more runs across in the fourth. Blair reached on a one-out single and then one out later came around to score from first on a double into the leftfield corner by Brooks. Conway followed with a grounder to the Duke shortstop Angelo LaBruna, who booted the ball allowing Brooks to score for a 3-0 Deacons lead.

Wake Forest broke the game wide open by batting around to score four runs in the top of the eighth. Brett Armour led off with a single and then moved to third when Blair doubled to left. One out later, Brooks walked to load the bases for Conway. The slugger was jammed on an inside pitch and sent a slow roller in front of the pitcher Drew Van Orden. Van Orden slipped on the pickup, allowing Armour to score.

Williamson followed by lacing a single through the right side to plate Blair, and Lopez then lined a single to left to score Brooks. Pinch hitter Charlie Morgan hit the first pitch he saw to left for a sacrifice fly to score Conway and give the Deacons a 7-0 advantage.

The Blue Devils finally got on the board in the bottom of the ninth, scoring two runs off Van Grouw. An error by Conor Keniry and three straight singles plated the first run and chased Van Grouw from the game. Dimock came on and threw a wild pitch to score Duke's second run. He then settled down to strike out three straight hitters to thwart the rally.

Duke starter Chase Bebout (2-4) suffered the loss, allowing one run on three hits and five walks in 2 1/3 innings.

Leadoff man Jeff Kremer led the Blue Devil bats, going 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Wake Forest and Duke will be back in action tomorrow afternoon for the second game of the weekend series. LHP Tim Cooney (6-2, 2.55) will start for the Deacons, while RHP Dennis O'Grady (5-3, 3.77) will toe the hill for the Blue Devils. First pitch, originally scheduled for 2 p.m., has been moved up to noon due to a possibility of inclement weather later in the day.