DURHAM, N.C. – A pair of extra-inning thrillers highlighted the Duke Blue Devils’ first day of competition in the 2019 Duke Invitational, with a walk-off winner via Reilly Metzger against the Kansas Jayhawks to cap the day.
The Blue Devils (7-11) fell in a nine-inning affair to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (14-4), 6-3, before closing the night with an 8-7 victory against the Jayhawks (3-13).
Duke returns for the final day of the weekend, taking on Ohio (8 a.m. ET) and Charleston Southern (10:30 a.m.).
Mississippi State 3, Duke 2 (9)
In their first game of the weekend after getting washed out Friday, the Duke Blue Devils fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 3-2, in nine innings.
The Bulldogs jumped ahead early thanks to a RBI double, making it 1-0 through the opening frame of play. From there the contest became a pitching duel, as Duke’s Shelby Walters and MSU’s Emily Williams tossed five scoreless innings, sending the contest into the final frame with a 1-0 State lead.
Duke evened the score in the top half of the seventh thanks to four errors on the Bulldog defense. A fielding error allowed Marissa Gagliano to reach safely, eventually moving to third on a wild pitch and sac bunt. Metzger would come in to pinch hit for Jazmine Moreno, sending a deep fly ball to center that the MSU fielder dropped, scoring Gagliano and tying the contest at 1-1. Two more errors by MSU would load the bases for Duke before the Bulldogs escaped the jam with a groundout to third base.
After a scoreless eighth, the contest entered international tiebreaker rules, placing a runner at second to start the frame. After a sac bunt moved Dominique Salinas from second to third, Rachel Abboud roped a single into left that pushed her home to give Duke a 2-1 advantage. However, four-straight singles would bring home two runs to MSU to give them a walk-off win.
The Blue Devils finished with four hits on the day via Abboud, Salinas Jameson Kavel and Raine Wilson. Walters (1-5) threw all 8.1 innings for Duke, tossing five strikeouts, walking two and scattering six hits.
Duke 8, Kansas 7 (9)
In their final game of the day, the Blue Devils used a clutch hit from Metzger to earn a walk-off win against the Kansas Jayhawks, 8-7, in nine innings Saturday night at the Duke Softball Stadium.
Facing a 1-2 count with two outs on the board, down 7-6 and runners at second and third, Metzger delivered a laser of a shot to the first baseman that she could not handle, allowing her to safely reach base and push Kavel and Kristina Foreman home for the win.
Kansas opened the scoring in the first frame with an RBI single to left center. The Jayhawks added on two more in the second via three hits to go up 3-0 through two innings.
Duke broke through in the third thanks to an RBI single from Deja Davis, scoring Jazmine Moreno to cut KU’s lead to 3-1. Kavel tallied the first of her program-record three doubles the next at-bat, scoring Davis to make it a one-score game at 3-2.
The Blue Devils jumped out in front an inning later to take a 5-3 lead. The run was started with a walk to Salinas and a single from Moreno. Abboud used a sacrifice fly to push home, followed by Davis’ first-career triple and Kavel’s second double of the night to give the home team the lead.
A late rally in the top of the seventh propelled the Jayhawks into the front, as a three-run home run gave the visitors a 6-5 advantage. However, the Blue Devils would not relent, as for the second time on the day, Metzger delivered a clutch hit to get Duke back into the contest, tying it at 6-6.
Much like the first game, a quiet eighth on both sides led to a thrilling ninth frame. Kansas jumped ahead, 7-6, on an RBI single before Duke made its final rally to victory.
A total of five Blue Devils turned in multi-hit performances on the night, led by three-hit performances from Davis and Kavel. Metzger finished the night 2-for-5, while Salinas and Moreno turned in 2-for-3 showings at the plate. Walters (2-5) closed out the final 2.0 innings of the contest, tossing two strikeouts and allowing just one run (unearned) on one hit.
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