ATHENS, Ga. – Facing a seven-run deficit, No. 18 Duke outscored Campbell 15-0 over the final three frames to storm back for a 16-8 victory in an NCAA Athens Regional elimination game Saturday evening at Foley Field.
Campbell (35-26) built an 8-1 advantage through six before lightning in the area delayed the game for an hour and 37 minutes. Following the delay, Duke (41-16) outhit the Camels, 14-1, with eight hits coming in a breakout, 11-run ninth.
“I am incredibly proud of our club and I’m excited to get a chance to continue coaching them,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We talked during the delay about how this team has never quit on each other and we came out with incredible energy and strung together good at bats and really put together great at bats during the ninth.”
With one out in the ninth and the Blue Devils trailing 8-6, freshman Chris Crabtree smoked a bases-clearing double down the right field line, the first extra-base hit of career. Crabtree entered the game in the seventh at designated hitter and proceeded to post a 3-for-4 effort with three RBI and two runs scored.
Crabtree’s double opened the floodgates for the Duke offense as the Blue Devils sent 16 batters to the plate in the ninth, resulting in a 16-8 advantage at the frame’s conclusion. Senior Max Miller notched two of his four hits in the frame, while Chase Cheek reached base in all three of his plate appearances after entering the game in the seventh.
“We really just capitalized on our momentum and went from there,” Pollard said. “We’ve got a team that once we pick up momentum, we just keep it going. If there was an aspect of it that was surprising it was the fact that a lot of guys who hadn’t had any at bats all year stepped up off the bench.”
The late-inning rally stood in opposition to the first six innings as Campbell starter Allan Winans stymied Duke for much of the day. Zack Kone’s two-out RBI double in the third accounted for Duke’s lone run through the first six innings before the Blue Devils scratched a couple runs across in the seventh. Overall, Winans allowed three runs on nine hits over 6.1 innings in the no decision.
Duke loaded the bases in the eighth following a Cheek bunt single, Miller base hit and Jack Labosky HBP. A Campbell fielding error then allowed two runs to cross home, slimming the margin, 8-5, and setting the stage for the ninth-inning comeback.
Sophomore Graeme Stinson (4-1) retired all eight Campbell batters he faced in 2.2 innings of relief to earn the win, fanning four. Camels reliever Logan Bender (5-2) suffered the loss after surrendering eight runs on six hits over two innings.
NCAA Athens Regional action continues Sunday. Georgia and Troy take the field at 12 p.m., tomorrow and Duke will face the loser of that contest at 6 p.m.