DURHAM, N.C. – A pair of home runs, four total hits, six runs batted in and three scored from Baron Radcliffe powered No. 7 Georgia Tech past Duke 14-10 on Friday night inside Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Yellow Jackets held 2-0, 5-1, 10-3 and 12-5 leads before Duke was able to cut the deficit down three at 12-9 going to the ninth inning. The Blue Devils put the first two runners on in the bottom of the frame, but could not bring the tying run to the plate as Georgia tech held on for the victory.
Duke got two hits, two runs batted in and one scored from freshman Ethan Murray as well as two hits, a double and home run, four runs batted in and one scored from junior Matt Mervis. With the victory, the Yellow Jackets improve to 34-14 and 16-9 in ACC play. The Blue Devils fall to 28-20 and 13-12 in league action.
Georgia Tech got a solid start on the mound from Amos Willingham (6-2), who earned the win after going five innings, limiting Duke to three runs, two earned, on three hits, a walk and three strikeouts. Jonathan Hughes entered for the next three frames, allowing six runs on eight hits and two walks with four whiffs. Micah Carpenter gave up two walks and a run in the ninth before Tristin English came in for the final three outs and recorded one punchout.
The Yellow Jackets took an early 2-0 lead on a two-run double high off the wall in left center from Radcliff in the first. Georgia Tech loaded the bases with no outs to start the game on a single from Luke Waddell, double from Michael Guldberg and walk to Kyle McCann. Following a strikeout, Radcliff plated Waddell and Guldberg with his blast. A walk refilled the bases, but a strikeout looking and groundout halted the scoring.
Duke answered immediately with a run in the bottom of the frame to cut the deficit to 2-1. Following a lineout, senior Kennie Taylor reached on an error and came home on a two-out double down the right-field line from Murray to make it a one-run contest before a groundout ended the threat.
In the top of the third, the Yellow Jackets added three runs to go up 5-1. A strikeout started the frame, but a Radcliffe single, Colin Hall single and Austin Wilhite walk loaded the bases. Jackson Webb delivered the first run of the frame with a sacrifice fly to deep right center that plated Radcliffe. Nick Wilhite followed with a double off the base of the wall down the left-field line to drive in Hall and Austin Wilhite. A fly out closed the inning.
Again in the bottom of the frame, the Blue Devils had a response with two runs to trail 5-3. With one down, sophomore Joey Loperfido walked, Taylor singled and Mervis was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Murray, who flew out to right to deliver Loperfido. Junior Chase Cheek followed with a single through the right side that plated Taylor. A fly out capped the scoring.
Radcliffe struck again in the top of the fourth with a two-out, two-run home run to left that pushed the Georgia Tech lead to 7-3. The Yellow Jackets kept the frame’s two-out rally going with a double from Hall and single to right center from Austin Wilhite that drove in Hall for an 8-3 advantage.
In the top of the sixth, for the third time in the contest, Radcliffe provided the offense with another two-run home run, this one to right field, giving Georgia Tech a 10-3 lead.
Duke scratched the scoreboard again in the bottom of the sixth with a run to make it a 10-4 score. Murray led off with a single and went to third on a single from Cheek. After a strikeout, sophomore Michael Rothenberg bounced a single through the right side to plate Murray and move Cheek to third. A strikeout and fly out closed the frame.
The Blue Devils got another run back in the bottom of the seventh to trail 10-5. With one out, Taylor singled, went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third as the catcher’s throw to second went into center field and scored on a Mervis bloop double to left. Two groundouts ended the inning.
Georgia Tech’s third homer of the game put it up 12-5 as English hit a two-run blast to left in the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, Duke answered with four runs to trail by just three at 12-9. With one out, freshman pinch hitter RJ Schreck walked and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Wil Hoyle. Freshman Rudy Maxwell punched a single to center, advancing Hoyle to second. A Loperfido single through the right side drove in Hoyle. A strikeout followed, but Mervis hit a three-run home run to center field to cap the Blue Devil scoring. The long ball was Mervis’ sixth of the season, tying him for the team lead.
The Yellow Jacket offense continued to push runners across the plate, scoring twice in the top of the ninth for a 14-9 cushion. Webb led off with a single to center, moved to third on a Nick Wilhite double to left center and scored on Waddell’s single up the middle. Guldberg provided the first out with a sacrifice fly to right center that delivered Nick Wilhite. A strikeout and lineout ended the inning.
Consecutive walks to Cheek and graduate student Kyle Gallagher started the bottom of the ninth for the Blue Devils. Following a pitching change and strikeout, a wild pitch from English moved both runners up a base. Sophomore pinch hitter Chris Crabtree’s sacrifice fly plated Cheek, but a pop out ended the game.
On the mound for Duke, graduate student Ben Gross (6-4) took the loss, lasting three innings and giving up five runs on six hits and four walks to pair with five strikeouts. He gave way to freshman Jack Carey, who threw two innings, yielding three runs on three hits and two walks. Junior Eli Herrick went the next frame, surrendering two runs on two hits with two whiffs. Freshman Aaron Beasley went the next 2.1 innings, giving up four runs four hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts. Freshman Kyle Salley recorded the final two outs and notched one strikeout.
Duke looks to even the series Saturday with a 11 a.m. first pitch. Junior Bill Chillari will get the ball for the Blue Devils while Connor Thomas will be on the mound for the Yellow Jackets.
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