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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Kennie Taylor
Duke Earns 30th Win, Takes Series at FSU
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 04/14/2018
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Down a run in the ninth, Kennie Taylor tripled and scored to tie the game then homered in the 11th to help No. 14 Duke defeat No. 12 Florida State, 6-5, to claim the series Saturday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium.

Duke (30-7, 12-5 ACC) not only earned its first series victory over Florida State (24-12, 8-9 ACC) in Tallahassee since 1994 but also reached 30 wins for the fifth straight year, joining No. 1 Florida as the first two teams in Division I to reach that mark this season.

“Really proud of our guys for the tremendous poise they showed in this atmosphere today,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Never backed down from the moment.”

Eight of the game’s 11 runs came courtesy of the longball as the teams combined to drive five balls out of the park. Florida State’s only two hits over the first six innings both left the yard. Jackson Lueck’s eighth longball of the season put FSU on top 2-0 after three before Steven Wells’ solo shot knotted the score 3-3 in the fifth.

Trailing by a pair in the top of the fourth, senior Max Miller missed a double by inches, then drove his first home run out of the season to deep left center. The Miller home run plated Zack Kone and Joey Loperfido who reached via a double and a walk, respectively.

Jimmy Herron’s second homer of the season gave, a solo seventh-inning shot, gave Duke a one-run lead entering the bottom half before Florida State plated a pair thanks to a pair thanks to uncharacteristic free offense provided by the Blue Devil bullpen. One single, a hit batter, three walks and two wild pitches permitted the Seminoles to stake a 5-4 advantage late.

Freshman Bryce Jarvis got Duke off the field with the bases loaded in the seventh then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to keep the game in check.

“We put [Jarvis] in a tough spot,” Pollard said. “[Florida State is] one swing of the bat away from maybe putting the game out of reach right there. To get us off the field, [Jarvis] executes with Cal Raleigh, one of the best players in college baseball, at the plate. The really important part was to go out and put a zero up in the eighth and keep that game within striking distance. Very, very mature approach. He just went out and kept making pitches.”

Jarvis’ effort allowed Taylor to knock a one-out, ninth-inning triple off the fencing in right center then scamper home on Michael Smiciklas’ RBI single up the middle.

“Super proud of Kennie,” Pollard added. “First off, not only is it a great job of driving that ball there to give us a baserunner in the ninth, but really aggressive baserunning to push the envelope there. It is hard to hit a ball off the wall in this ballpark to right and earn a triple. Shows you what type of athlete he is and shows you the type of aggressive he had getting out of the box. That’s the only way you can get to third base.”

Senior Jack Labosky (2-0) picked up the win after tossing three shutout frames, extending his streak to 18.0 scoreless innings this season. 
FSU reliever Conor Grady (3-2) suffered the loss after yielding Taylor’s towering solo home run in the 11th. Taylor smashed a 1-1 pitch high off the scoreboard in left to break the extra-inning stalemate. 

Duke and Florida State conclude the weekend series Sunday, April 15 on ACC Network Extra. FSU sends Andrew Karp to the mound while Duke’s starter is to be announced.