LUBBOCK, Texas – With a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, Duke was unable to hold off a late rally from Texas Tech as the Red Raiders took game one of the Lubbock Super Regional, 6-4, Saturday afternoon at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
“Disappointed for our players,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I thought they competed outstanding. They handled the atmosphere really well. We got an excellent start from Mitch Stallings. We got really good, clutch two-out hitting from Zack Kone. I thought we played a phenomenal game defensively.”
The Blue Devils held a 3-0 advantage heading to the bottom of the fifth after posting a run in the second and two in the fifth. After a single from Joey Loperfido, who then advanced to third on a passed ball and groundout, Max Miller would single through the right side to push the freshman home and give Duke the 1-0 lead. Two hit by pitches would set the table for a two-run fifth from Duke, as a double to left center from Zack Kone would score Chris Crabtree and Jimmy Herron to make it 3-0.
Texas Tech cut the deficit to one with a two-run Grant Little double in the bottom of the fifth and tied things up in the bottom of the sixth on a fielder's choice to second.
Kone drove his third run of the day home with a single through the right side in the seventh, giving the Blue Devils a 4-3 lead with two and a half innings left in the first game of the series. However, a Brian Klein solo home run in the bottom of the seventh coupled with an RBI single and RBI double in the eighth pushed Texas Tech ahead for good, 6-4.
“In the sixth and again in the eighth, we had some bad luck” Pollard added. “I thought we executed some pretty good pitches. We talk our process of pitching to groundball contact. Both of those two guys (Ethan DeCaster and Jack Labosky) that are in the game late are ground ball guys. We got ground balls in those spots. Those guys did what they’re supposed to do. Those balls weren’t at people in those spots and that ultimately was the difference.”
A 3-for-4 day from Kone along with three RBI and two doubles would lead the way for the Blue Devils offensively. Loperfido also turned in a multi-hit day, earning a pair of base hits.
Mitch Stallings earned the start, going 5.0 innings and surrendering only two runs on six hits while striking out a pair. Ethan DeCaster threw 2.0 innings in relief, while Jack Labosky (3-1) threw the final inning of the contest. A throwing error prolonged the eighth and allowed the two go-ahead runs to score against Labosky, both unearned.
Duke and Texas Tech reconvene for game two of the Lubbock Super Regional at 6 p.m. (ET). A Red Raiders victory would send Texas Tech to Omaha for the College World Series while a Duke victory would force an if-necessary game at 4 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.