LUBBOCK, Texas – Faced with a must-win game, Duke turned in a dominating performance to even the Lubbock Super Regional, downing Texas Tech 11-2 Sunday evening at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Fueled by a strong start from Graeme Stinson and 10 runs between the fourth and fifth innings, the Blue Devils forced game three Monday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. ET, with the contest nationally televised on ESPN2. The winner advances to the College World Series June 16-27.
“We’ve been really comfortable playing with our backs against the wall,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “I talked on the bus today [about] all the different times over the course of the season, being in must-win ballgames with our backs against the wall. And I talked about how we responded in those games over the course of the season. Certainly that was on display last weekend in Athens. [I’m] just incredibly proud of our team and the way we responded.”
Stinson picked up the win and improved to 5-1 on the year after turning in 6.0 innings of work, striking out six while scattering five hits with no runs allowed.
“It starts with the fact that we got an unbelievable outing from Graeme Stinson,” Pollard added. “The job that he did on the mound allowed us to get our offense going. When we did score, he put up a couple big shutdown innings behind it.”
While Stinson stymied the Red Raiders from the mound, eight Blue Devils registered hits on the night with six turning in multi-hit performances. Max Miller was crucial in Duke’s 11-run Sunday night, going 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and a triple, ultimately driving in four runs and scoring two of his own.
Griffin Conine and Joey Loperfido led all players as they each tallied three-hit showings. Loperfido tagged a single, double and triple to go along with three RBI, while Conine reached base in four of his five plate appearances. Those two lefties in the middle of the order reached base in seven of their combined eight plate appearances.
The 11 runs were the most yielded by Texas Tech in a NCAA Tournament game since a 12-3 loss to No. 19 Arizona State in May 25, 2001, at Fullerton, Calif.
Chris Proctor, Zack Kone and Kennie Taylor each turned in two-hit performances, while Jimmy Herron and Chris Crabtree both tallied a hit to round out Duke’s 16-hit showing. The Blue Devils have now recorded 10-plus hits in four contests during the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
After both sides went scoreless through the first three frames, Duke broke through with a four-run fourth. A Loperfido triple got things started, scoring Kone and Conine to make it 2-0. Doubles from Miller and Crabtree would make it 4-0 through four.
Momentum carried over to the fifth for the Blue Devil bats, as Duke pushed six runs home to make it 10-0. Kone singled to bring the inning’s first run home and was then pushed across home plate thanks to a single from Taylor. Miller’s bases-clearing triple opened the flood gates, with a sac fly from Herron rounding out the inning.
The Blue Devils held the Red Raiders scoreless through the first six innings, with TTU using an RBI double in the seventh and an RBI single in the eighth to cut the Duke lead down to 10-2. However, Loperfido picked up his third hit of the day with an RBI single to center to make it 11-2.
Matt Dockman retired all five Texas Tech batters he faced to close out the game for Duke, setting up Monday’s Lubbock Super Regional finale.