DURHAM — Drew Van Orden struck out 12 batters in eight innings and Duke held off a late rally to hand No. 18 North Carolina a 3-2 loss Friday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Trent Thornton allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings but took his first loss of season as the Tar Heels dropped their fourth in a row for the first time since 2010.
North Carolina (15-10, 5-5 ACC) struck first with a two-out hit in the second. Tom Zengel led off the inning with a bloop single to right and scored three batters later on a Tyler Ramirez RBI double to left.
That would be all for the Tar Heels against Van Orden (2-2), however, as the senior right-hander was in control for most of the afternoon, striking out 12 and walking none in eight innings of work to improve to 2-2 on the year.
Meanwhile, Duke (15-12, 5-5 ACC) manufactured runs in the third, fifth and seventh off Thornton (5-1) with some help from the Tar Heel defense. The Blue Devils tied the game in the third after back-to-back one-out singles from Mark Lumpa and Matt Berezo. After both runners advanced on a flyout, Lumpa scored from third on a Thornton wild pitch.
Duke took the lead in the fifth on an unearned run after Landon Lassiter threw wild to first for what would have been the first out of the inning. Two batters later, Kenny Koplove scored on Berezo’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. Berezo’s second sac fly of the day made it 3-1 in the seventh.
North Carolina mounted a rally in the ninth against Duke closer Robert Huber but came up one run short. Huber walked the first two batters he faced, and Lassiter scored when Michael Russell beat out a potential inning-ending double play for an RBI fielder’s choice.
But Huber got Zengel looking for the final out to give Duke its first win over North Carolina since 2010.
The Tar Heels will send Benton Moss to the hill in Game 2 of the series opposite Duke’s Andrew Istler. That game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start Saturday.
N.C. Central: Eagles star Jeremy Ingram has been named to the Lou Henson All-America Team for his performance during his senior season.
By virtue of earning a spot on the team, Ingram is now a finalist for the Lou Henson award, which is presented annually to the top Mid-Major player in NCAA Division I college basketball. The award is in honor of Lou Henson, who retired in 2005 after a 41-year coaching career at Illinois and New Mexico State.
High Point: Scott Cherry has been named National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 3 Coach of the Year. Cherry, who played at North Carolina from 1989-93, led the Panthers to their first Big South regular season title and first NIT appearance this season.
Cherry was also named Big South Coach of the Year, the first HPU men’s basketball coach to receive that honor since the program moved up to NCAA Div. I and joined the conference in 1999-2000.
High Point finished the season 16-15 overall and went 12-4 in Big South play this season. The team executed a major turnaround after starting the year 4-11 overall and 0-2 in league play.