GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Duke baseball team led No. 13 Florida through five innings but a pair of grand slams by the Gators' Zach Powers broke the game open late as Florida would go on to defeat the Blue Devils 16-5 Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
Duke led 2-0 early and 3-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but the Blue Devils were unable to hang on as the Gators' offense exploded for a combined 11 hits and 14 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth.
Duke struck first plating two runs in the opening frame. Left fielder Andrew Istler led off with a single to right and catcher Mike Rosenfeld drew a walk to put two on with one out. After a balk advanced the runners to second and third, first baseman Chris Marconcini lined a double to left center for the first two runs of the contest.
The Blue Devil lead was short-lived however as Florida made Duke pay for a pair of walks in the bottom half of the first. With runners on the corners and two outs, Taylor Gushue lifted a double off the wall in right field to tie the score at 2-2. Freshman RHP James Marvel, making his collegiate debut, then got Vickash Ramjit to line out to short to end the inning.
Marvel would settle down and surrendered only one hit, a double by Cody Dent in the second, the rest of the way. The rookie from Moraga, Calif., threw 4.0 innings with two strikeouts while allowing just the two runs on two hits in his first career start.
Duke manufactured a run in the top of the fourth to take its second lead of the game, this time 3-2. Second baseman Andy Perez led off with a single and Matt Berezo laid down the bunt to advance the runner to second. Perez then stole third and scored on a throwing error by the UF catcher.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Devils had limited Florida to just two hits on the day when the Gator offense came to life. A pair of singles from Turgeon and Shafer started off the sixth and an infield single from Ramjit loaded the bases with one out. Powers, who finished with nine RBI in total, tied the game with a sac fly to deep center field before Josh Tobias delivered a two-out, two-RBI single to give the Gators a 5-3 lead. Dent followed suit with a single of his own to plate Tobias before Duke left-hander Nick Hendrix got Harrison Bader to fly out to end the inning.
The Gators' offense continued to roll in the seventh as Powers belted the first of his two grand slams to put the Gators up 10-3. Berezo drilled a two-out, two-RBI double to left in the eighth, scoring Rosenfeld and Marconcini, to make it a 10-5 game before Florida tacked on six runs in the eighth.
Berezo led the Duke offense, going 2-for-3 with a single, a double and two RBI. Rosenfeld, Marconcini, Betts, Perez and D'Alessandro each registered a hit for the Blue Devils. Rosenfeld had a strong showing at the plate for the opening weekend, going 5-for-11 (.455) with two doubles, a triple, three runs scored and an RBI.
In total, four Blue Devils made their collegiate pitching debuts Sunday. Rookie Michael Matuella (1-0) suffered the loss after allowing two runs on two hits in the sixth. Florida's Ryan Harris (1-0) earned the win after giving up one hit and zero runs over 2.2 innings pitched.
Duke returns to action next weekend, hosting Bucknell in a three-game series Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jack Coombs Field to open the Blue Devils' home slate.