DURHAM, N.C. - Towson scored two runs in the top of the eighth for a one-run lead and the Tigers held on to beat the Duke baseball team, 6-5, Saturday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Duke (4-5) led 5-2 after four innings and registered a season-best 12 hits in the game, but the Blue Devils were unable to push another run across the rest of the way after totaling five runs on eight hits in the first four frames. Towson (6-2) plated a pair in both the fifth and the eighth for the comeback victory.
Junior Matt Berezo was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with three singles to boost his average to .474 on the year. Junior Mike Rosenfeld recorded his second multi-hit game of the series, finishing 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored, while sophomore Andrew Istler also chipped in with two singles and a run scored.
"It was a tough loss," said head coach Chris Pollard. "I thought our guys battled. I thought we had a much better offensive approach early than we've had in a couple of ball games. The guys made some adjustments. You have to give credit to Towson. Each time that we put some runs up, they had an answer for it."
The Blue Devils jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first as three consecutive two-out singles would bring home the first run of the game. Rosenfeld laced a single up the middle and would score from third after singles from Berezo and Jordan Betts, both to right field.
Duke added a second run in the third to go up 2-0 on the Tigers. Second baseman Andy Perez singled through the left side and advanced to third on a Jeff Kremer base hit to right center. Perez would then score on a 6-4-3 double play ball.
The Duke lead held until the fourth when Towson scored a pair to tie the game at 2-2. An RBI double from Andrew Parker scored the first Tiger run before a two-out single from Kurt Wertz brought Parker home. Parker finished the day 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored, while Wertz went 2-for-3 as well with two RBI and a run scored.
Duke answered immediately with three runs in the bottom of the fourth aided by a two-run homer off the bat of first baseman Chris Marconcini. The home run was Marconcini's third of the season and seventh of his career. Istler singled then scored from second on a Kenny Koplove base hit to cap off the inning for the Blue Devils.
Down 5-2, the Tigers put two on the board in the top of the fifth courtesy of a two-out, two-run double from Parker. Duke starter Drew Van Orden (0-1) then got Kurtis Voytell to fly out to right to end the threat. Van Orden would leave the game with a 5-4 lead after six complete innings. The righty from Manhattan Beach, Calif., gave up four runs on seven hits, striking out five, against the Tigers.
Freshman Nick Hendrix came on in relief in the seventh and recorded a pair of strikeouts before giving way to Istler (1-1) in the eighth. Trailing 5-4, Towson's Brent Butler began the inning with a walk and scored on a Wertz triple to right center. Wertz would later score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch before Istler worked out of the inning. Istler would suffer the loss, allowing two runs on just the one hit in two innings of work.
"I thought that Van Orden gave us a good start, a quality start that you can win with," Pollard said. "I thought Hendrix came in and did his job. Andrew Istler came in in the end and threw the ball well ... really one hard hit ball. I thought he executed his pitch pretty well. Wertz had a good ball game, swung the bat well. Save for that one swing, Andrew had them very much off balance."
Towson's Mike Ryan (3-0) recorded the win, pitching the final 2.2 innings for the Tigers. The lefty faced seven Blue Devil batters, striking out three, without permitting a base runner.
"Obviously our guys are frustrated, but the reality is that was a competitive ball game and we came up a little bit short," Pollard added. "We got to learn from that and try to build off of the things we did well in it."
The series finale will take place Sunday at 1 p.m., at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Duke will then host Pennsylvania in a pair of midweek contests at Jack Coombs Field Tuesday and Wednesday.