FARNHAM PARK, Bucks. – A day after hitting the first home run for re-formed Durham University Baseball, Brad Jones led the black-and-purple with his arm, setting a team record with 11 strikeouts in a 9-1 win over Nottingham University on day two of the National University Baseball Championship.
The Palatinates came out hot in the 10 a.m. game of the middle bracket of the NUBC, posting a four-run opening frame. Amané Sobue led off the game with a walk and moved over as Will Zucker reached on an error. Jones drew a walk to load the bases before T.J. Garske ripped a gapper to right field for a single, moving up a bag after the ball went by the centerfielder.
Garske would score after an errant throw on an infield hit by Andrew Poole, and Durham had a runner in scoring position with no outs. Nottingham’s starting pitcher Carter buckled down though, and got the next three batters easily to keep the deficit at four.
Jones took the rubber in the bottom of the frame and got the first two batters on grounders before hitting the number three batter. The righthander made the final out look easy, starting the cleanup hitter with a changeup before blowing a heater by him. Jones then elected to go for the breaking ball, and froze the Notts batter with a filthy 12-6 curveball for the third out.
The second frame was nothing doing for either side, but Durham plated two in the third.
With one down, Marcus Helland slapped a grounder, but reached after the first baseman dropped the throw. A strikeout by Carter looked to end the rally, but Brad Bentz bounced a slow roller to third and beat the throw for an infield safety.
Helland, who had swiped second and moved to third on a wild pitch, rumbled home for the score, and back-to-back singles scored Bentz, with the RBI going to Sobue. Zucker, Durham’s captain, came within inches of a three-run dinger, but was robbed on the warning track by Thieves’ centerfielder Andy Robbins to end the frame.
Jones continued his scoreless run despite a leadoff walk and a single that just found a hole past the diving Helland first base, striking out the side with a mixture of breaking pitches and sheer gas. Carter and Jones matched zeroes in the fourth, but Jones continued to outclass the Thieves, despite switching from overhand to a funky sidearm motion.
The native of Utica, New York, gave up an infield safety that the diving Helland knocked down, but once more got all three outs on Ks. Two batters were sent down looking after waving feebly at Jones’ offerings, and despite wearing down after 67 pitches, Jones was in the game to stay.
The Palatinate batsmen batting around in the fifth, icing the game with three insurance runs. Helland stroked a one-base hit to left and swiped second and third, coming round on an error that allowed Sam Ross to reach safely. Carter got the next two batters, but clearly fatiguing, the Nottingham skipper elected to go to the bullpen.
Kenken came in from shortstop to limit the damage, but walked four straight hitters and allowed Ross to score on three wild pitches. The final run of the frame came on the last walk, drawn by Garske, to move the margin to 9-0.
Jones looked to finish the shutout in the bottom of the fifth, but was undone by an infield throwing error that saw Kenken reach and then steal second. A solid single by Carter (who finished 2-for-3) drove the reliever in, and a fielder’s choice set up Durham’s hurler to finish in style, whiffing the last two Thieves to run his total to 11 on the day.
After recording the save with a 1-2-3 inning against UEA a day before, Jones went five complete to move to 1-0. He tossed five innings, giving up an unearned run on four hits and two walks, and has now rung up 14 batters in six frames this season.
Durhams’ seven hits were all recorded by different batters, with Sobue, Jones, and Garske all reaching base three times. Sobue, the Palatinate’s tireless backstop, scored two runs and drew a pair of free passes, while Jones worked three base on balls.
The victory improves Durham’s first team to 2-1 at nationals, dropping the green-and-gold to 1-2. The black-and-purple sought to finish on a winning note in a 12:30 (GMT) matchup against Imperial College, with the winner likely clinching fourth place.