DURHAM, N.C. – Head coach Chris Pollard and the Duke baseball program revealed the Blue Devils’ schedule for the 2018 season, Pollard’s sixth in Durham.
The Blue Devils once again face a challenging slate as 29 of Duke’s 56 contests are against teams that registered 30 or more wins a season ago. In addition, Duke’s 2018 schedule features 22 games versus 2017 NCAA Tournament participants, including matchups against Vanderbilt, Yale, Virginia, Wake Forest, Florida State, NC State and North Carolina.
“Our guys are working with a sense of purpose and tremendous attention to detail as we go through our fall season,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “This group has a veteran presence and proven leadership to set the tone as we prepare for the 2018 schedule.”
Coming off the program’s fourth consecutive 30-win season, Duke opens the spring in Nashville, Tenn., against Vanderbilt. The Blue Devils and the Commodores face each other for the first time on the baseball diamond Feb. 16-18.
Duke hosts Bucknell (Feb. 23-25) and Cornell (March 2-4) in home series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park before delving into ACC play.
“The ACC will undoubtedly distinguish itself again this spring as the premier conference in all of college baseball,” Pollard added. “We work every day with the understanding that February 16 is right around the corner.”
The Blue Devils begin their conference schedule March 9-11 at home against Virginia. Duke’s remaining home conference slate features series against Miami (March 16-18), Notre Dame (March 30-April1), NC State (April 20-22) and North Carolina (May 11-13).
Duke hits the road for league series at Pittsburgh (March 23-25), Wake Forest (April 6-8), Florida State (April 13-15), Virginia Tech (April 27-29) and Georgia Tech (May 17-19).
In non-conference action, Duke hosts midweek games against North Carolina Central (Feb. 20), Longwood (March 7), Yale (March 13-14), Maryland Eastern Shore (March 21), Presbyterian (March 27), Campbell (April 4), Davidson (April 10), East Carolina (April 17), Gardner-Webb (May 6, DH), and Liberty (May 8).
The Blue Devils’ non-conference road schedule includes games at NCCU (Feb. 27), Campbell (March 20), Richmond (April 3), Davidson (April 24) and Liberty (May 15).
The Blue Devils return 22 letterwinners from this past season’s 30-28 squad, including nine starting position players. 2017 Cape Cod League Baseball MVPs Griffin Conine (.298/.546/.425) and Jimmy Herron (.326/.474/.412) headline that group as both outfielders return for their junior seasons. Duke also returns starting center fielder Kennie Taylor (.314/.496/.383), second baseman Max Miller (.237/.299/.363), shortstop Zack Kone (.291/.359/.345), third baseman Jack Labosky (.275/.464/.399), catcher Chris Proctor (.255/.309/.305) and designated hitter Michael Smiciklas (.302/.436/.385).
On the mound, Duke returns 68 percent of its innings pitched from last season, led by seniors Mitch Stallings (4-3, 4.50 ERA, 73.2 IP) and Ryan Day (4-3, 3.30 ERA, 76.0 IP). Sophomore Adam Laskey (4-5, 6.83 ERA, 55.1 IP), sophomore Graeme Stinson (3-1, 6.67 ERA, 28.1 IP), senior Chris McGrath (1-2, 4.12 ERA, 24.0 IP), senior Jack Labosky (2-4, 4.50 ERA, 34.0 IP) and sophomore Matt Mervis (2-2, 7.83 ERA, 23.0 IP) all logged 20-plus innings for Duke a season ago.
In addition, Duke added 13 newcomers into the mix in freshmen Chris Crabtree, Thomas Girard, Matt Dockman, Wil Hoyle, Toma Shigaki-Than, Bryce Jarvis, Steve Mann, Joey Loperfido, Josh Nifong, Michael Rothenberg and Tyler Wardwell as well as graduate student transfers Ethan DeCaster (Creighton) and Sam Granoff (San Francisco).