COLUMBIA, S.C. – A late rally propelled the home team to victory on Wednesday night, as the Duke Blue Devils (12-17) dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to the No. 16 South Carolina Gamecocks (22-7) at the Carolina Softball Stadium.
After a four-run sixth inning from the Blue Devils broke open the scoreless contest, the Gamecocks responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the seventh to complete the comeback and earn the walk-off win. A two-RBI double and an RBI single cut the Duke lead down to 4-3 in the sixth. USC worked around a leadoff triple from Duke in the seventh and then used a bases-loaded walk to tie the contest before a single up the middle brought home the game-winning run.
The first five innings on Wednesday were a pitcher’s duel, as the two sides totaled five hits and only put five runners in scoring position. Duke finally broke through in the sixth thanks to a double down the right field line from Brianna Butler that scored Caroline Jacobsen and Kyla Morris. A Kristina Foreman walk opened the inning, followed by Raine Wilson reaching on a fielder’s choice. After Morris entered as a pinch runner, Jacobsen sent a double down the left field line to put two on, bringing Butler up to the plate.
Marissa Gagliano kept the inning going with a slow-rolling single that straddled the foul line and stayed fair. After Gagliano stole second, Jazmine Moreno reached safely on a South Carolina fielding error, allowing Gagliano and Dominique Salinas to score to up the Blue Devil lead to 4-0.
Duke tallied six hits on the night, with Moreno and Butler leading the offensive charge with a hit and two runs driven in each. Butler earned the start and threw 5.1 innings with two strikeouts and four walks. Amelia Wiercioch (2-4) closed out the contest, striking out two and walking three over 1.1 innings.
Focus goes back to ACC play for the Blue Devils, as they head to Charlottesville, Va., for their first road conference series of 2019. The three-game series against the Virginia Cavaliers opens on Friday, March 22 at 5 p.m. ET. Saturday, March 23 is set for a 1 p.m., first pitch, with the Sunday, March 24 series finale starting at noon. Friday’s and Sunday’s contests will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, which can be accessed through WatchESPN.com or the ESPN app.
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