DURHAM, N.C. – An evening of strong pitching performances and senior Kennie Taylor leading the offensive charge pushed the Duke baseball team past No. 16 Texas Tech 13-6 on Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Blue Devils have now won seven of their last eight games and improve to 21-16 overall this season.
Duke got outstanding production from its one, two and nine hitters in the order Tuesday as sophomore Joey Loperfido, Taylor and sophomore Chris Crabtree combined for seven hits, seven runs batted in and five scored. Taylor kicked in his team-leading 18th multiple-hit game and eighth multiple-RBI contest of the campaign. The Tampa, Fla., product paces the team with four games driving in three or more runs.
“Our guys really went out and had a really terrific offensive output,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “It was a terrific offensive performance.”
The Blue Devils sent junior Adam Laskey first to the mound Tuesday. He went three innings, yielding one run on three hits and three walks to go along with one strikeout. Freshman Jack Carey followed with two innings, surrendering two unearned runs on two hits and a walk while fanning two. Sophomore Matt Dockman covered the next two frames, retiring all six batters that he faced, including two via strikeout. He earned the win to up his season mark to 3-1. Junior Eli Herrick went the eighth inning and gave up a run on two walks and a hit with two whiffs. Freshman Aaron Beasley threw the ninth, surrendering two runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk with two punchouts.
“(Adam Laskey) did a great job of minimizing,” Pollard added. “Any one of those three innings could have turned into a crooked number and a big inning for them. We turned a couple of double plays on them early and that really limited the damage. Matt Dockman really captured momentum for our club. Obviously as everybody knows that follows college baseball, this is one of the best offenses in the country and a really tough team to pitch to.”
Duke took advantage of some help from Texas Tech to jump ahead 2-0 in the first inning. After Loperfido was hit by the second pitch of the frame, Taylor singled to center to put runners on first and second. A strikeout and lineout followed, but a wild pitch advanced the pair a base. Junior Chase Cheek struck out swinging, but the third strike got away from Red Raider catcher Braxton Fulford, allowing Loperfido to come home. Cheek stole second with Fulford throwing through to the bag, bringing Taylor across the plate.
In the top of the second, Texas Tech (23-12) got a run back to make it a 2-1 deficit on a bases-loaded double play by Parker Kelly that brought in Brian Klein.
Duke regained the two-run advantage in the bottom of the third to go ahead 3-1. After a Taylor fielder’s choice left him on first with one out, junior Matt Mervis singled through the right side, advancing Taylor to third. A wild pitch allowed Taylor to come home before a pair of strikeouts capped the frame.
The Blue Devils used two-out magic in the fourth to extend their lead to 6-1. With two down, freshman Ethan Murray walked, Crabtree was hit by a pitch and Loperfido beat out an infield single. Taylor then cleared the bases with a double to right.
Texas Tech answered in the top of the fifth with two runs of its own to trail 6-3. Fulford led off with a single. A throwing error on a Dylan Neuse ground ball moved Fulford to third and let Neuse reach second. A wild pitch then pushed Fulford home and Neuse to third. Neuse scored on a sacrifice fly from Josh Jung before a groundout closed the inning.
After two scoreless relief innings from Dockman, Duke added three insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 9-3 lead. Mervis led off with a double, moved to third on a single from graduate student Kyle Gallagher and scored on a wild pitch. After Texas Tech tallied two outs, Gallagher and Cheek, who had walked, scored on a single to right from Crabtree. A strikeout ended the frame.
Texas Tech scratched across a run in the top of the eighth to trail 9-4. Gabe Holt led off with a walk, moved to second on the frame’s second free pass and scored on a Cameron Warren single through the right side. A strikeout and groundout stranded the pair.
Duke tallied the game’s four runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to break the game open and make it a 13-4 advantage. With two down, Cheek singled to left to drive in Gallagher, who had walked earlier in the frame and make it a 10-4 lead. Murray followed with a single to left that delivered Cheek for an 11-4 cushion. Crabtree then doubled to left center to plate two more. A strikeout closed the scoring.
The Red Raiders got two runs back in the ninth for the 13-6 final. With the bases loaded and no outs, Cole Stilwell scored on a passed ball to trail 13-5. After a strikeout, Jung singled through the left side to plate another. Beasley settled down with a strikeout and groundout to seal the victory.
Texas Tech’s Bryce Bonnin (3-1) took the loss, lasting four innings and allowing six runs on five hits and a walk. He also fanned seven. Mason Montgomery went the next two frames and blanked the Blue Devils on two hits and a walk. Kurt Wilson did not record an out, but issued a walk and two hits to give up three runs. Caleb Freeman threw an inning, yielding a hit and walk with two whiffs. Cade Farr recorded two outs, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. Trey Garlett did not record an out, but yielded two hits and two walks with two runs. Hunter Dobbins registered the final out.
The Blue Devils get back to action this weekend with a return to ACC play. Duke faces No. 24 Clemson with game one set for Friday at 6 p.m. Saturday’s contest will begin at 3 p.m. with the Sunday finale at 1 p.m.
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