DURHAM, N.C. – Anthony Cafagna came on in relief and threw seven innings of two-run baseball to help Richmond to a 9-8 win over Duke in game two of the series on Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Cafagna (1-0) entered the game in the third inning with Duke leading 6-0 after an early five-run first inning. The 6-2, 210-pound right-hander held Duke to two runs and five hits over the remainder of the game while allowing the Richmond offense to chip away at the deficit and eventually overtake Duke on a two-run double from Jacob Mayers in the eighth inning.
Mayers finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored to lead the comeback effort. Spiders two-hitter Mike Mergenthaler also gave Duke trouble at the plate, finishing 4-for-5 with three stolen bases and two runs, while catcher Bryan Conway finished 4-for-5 as well.
Duke built a comfortable lead early in the game after scoring five runs in the first and another in the second off starter Bret Williams. Blue Devil starter Eric Pfisterer cruised through his first 4.2 innings without allowing a run, but could not get the final out in the fifth as Richmond strung together three runs on four two-out hits against the Duke junior lefthander.
Following Pfisterer’s departure in the fifth, the Spiders (1-1) touched up Duke’s bullpen for four runs in the seventh inning to tie the game at 7-7. Three of those runs followed a Duke fielding error that prolonged the inning and allowed the Spiders to score four of their five base runners in that frame.
With the game tied at 7-7, Matt Zink drew a leadoff walk, stole second and then scored on Mayers’ double to the left field warning track. Mayers would later come around to score from third with two outs on a wild pitch to give Richmond the two-run lead. Freshman Drew Van Orden (1-1), who earned the win in Friday’s victory, was charged with both runs and took his first career loss.
Duke cut the deficit to one run with one out in the bottom of the ninth when freshman Jordan Betts lifted a sacrifice fly ball to right field that scored senior Dennis O’Grady, who drew a walk to start the Duke rally. Freshman Chris Marconcini, who delivered Duke’s game-winning hit in the series-opening win on Friday, then followed with an infield single and moved to second when fellow freshman Anthony D’Alessandro drew a walk that loaded the bases. With two outs and Richmond holding a 9-8 lead, Cafagna then accomplished his most difficult task of the night by getting Duke catcher Ryan Munger to ground out to end the game. Munger had tagged a career-high three hits to that point in the game – extending his hitting streak to 11 games – while also driving in a run and scoring another.
Betts matched Munger with three hits on the day and led the team with two RBI. The 6-2, 210-pound third baseman from Wilmington, N.C., now leads the team with a .556 batting average through the first two games. Marconcini, meanwhile, had a hit for the second straight day, drew three walks and has now reached base in seven of his 10 trips to the plate.