LYNCHBURG, Va. – Duke led 4-2 following sophomore Jimmy Herron’s second homer of the season before Liberty scored the game’s final six runs to upend the Blue Devils, 8-4, Tuesday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Herron extended his team-best hit streak to eight games with single in the first before belting a two-run homer in the second. The Harleysville, Pa., native finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and two stolen bases.
Duke (7-7) totaled six of its 10 hits the first two frames while Liberty (8-4) had at least one baserunner in 7-of-8 innings, assuming the lead for good following a three-run sixth.
After Duke knocked out Liberty starter Vinnie Tarantola to start the third, Flame relievers Shane Quarterly and Garret Price (1-0) combined for six shutout inning. The duo limited Duke to three singles the remainder of the contest, allowing Liberty to regain the lead.
“I give their bullpen a lot of credit,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “They had very good numbers coming into today’s matchup and they were as good as advertised. Bottom line, we gave them 10 free bases on the mound and we can’t do that.”
The two teams traded blows in the opening frame with Liberty coming out on top, 2-1. Herron notched the leadoff single then swiped second and third before scoring on a Justin Bellinger RBI base knock.
Duke’s advantage did not survive the bottom of the first. Liberty’s first two batters reached and came home on a Will Shepherd’s RBI groundout and Jake Barbee’s RBI double, respectively.
Duke put up three second-inning runs on four straight two-out hits to regain the advantage. Kennie Taylor roped an RBI double to the gap, tying the game 2-2. Herron then drilled a hanging change up over the left field wall, good for his second homer of the season.
The Blue Devils were unable to maintain the quick offensive start and the Flames scored six unanswered from the third to the seventh. Shepherd accounted for RBI in both the third and the fifth before DJ Artis lined a two-run sixth-inning double inside the left field line. Liberty tacked on a seventh-inning insurance run, capitalizing on Barbee’s second double of the day.
Duke used six pitchers in a planned split. Graduate student Nick Hendrix (1-1) suffered the loss after surrendering three runs on two hits and a walk in the sixth.
Duke faces a quick turnaround, playing host to Mount St. Mary’s at 4 p.m., Wednesday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park before opening ACC play Friday-Sunday against Virginia Tech.