TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Duke baseball team closed out the regular season on a high-note, defeating No. 4 Florida State, 7-5, Saturday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium.
A monumental win for the Blue Devils, today’s victory was not only Duke’s first in Tallahassee since 1994 but gave the program its 16th ACC win, tying the school record also set in 1994. In addition, the Blue Devils clinched the No. 4 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.
“It was an incredibly tough effort by our players,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Trent Swart stepped up unbelievably. He pitched an incredible game. I thought we had a really good offensive approach. So many guys had really good at bats. Our guys just wanted it. They’ve had such a great year, they really wanted this win. It’s the first time our seniors have beaten Florida State. I’m incredibly proud of them. It was a great way to pick up your first win versus this club.”
Bolstered by nine walks and two hit batters, Duke (32-23, 16-14 ACC) capitalized on its opportunities to build a six-run lead by the sixth. Florida State (41-14, 21-9 ACC) scored two runs in both the seventh and ninth innings, but could not catch the Blue Devils in the end.
“We knew a few of the guys [Florida State] was bringing in had struggled with their command,” Pollard said. “We preached patience. We did a good job of using the hit by pitch. We were ready to capitalize on free offense.”
FSU starter Peter Miller (3-4) suffered the loss after allowing two runs on two hits and three walks in an inning of work. His counterpart, Duke southpaw Trent Swart (5-2), turned in the quality start in his longest outing of the season, covering eight complete innings. Aided by three 4-6-3 double plays, the Carlsbad, Calif., native scattered six hits and held Florida State to three runs.
After scoring five runs in the ninth the previous day, the Duke bats picked up right where they left off to start the series finale. Senior Jordan Betts walked following a Mark Lumpa base hit and an Andy Perez fielder’s choice to put two aboard for Chris Marconcini. Duke’s rightfielder lined his third double of the series and 12th of the season for the game’s first run. A productive at bat from Matt Berezo, who hit a groundball to the right side for his 16th RBI on the year, brought Betts home.
Base hits from Jose Brizuela and John Sansone coupled with a Justin Gonzalez walk loaded the bases with one out in the second. Danny De La Calle lifted a fly ball to right field, but Ryan Deitrich’s throw to the plate was just up the line allowing Brizuela to elude the tag of catcher Mike Rosenfeld. Swart did well to minimize the damage, inducing a Brett Knief pop up to first base for the final out.
Duke’s offense continued to roll in the third, tacking on three runs for a 5-1 advantage. Marconcini walked and scored on a Grant McCabe RBI single to answer FSU’s run the previous frame. Deitrich continued his strong weekend at the plate, blasting his seventh home run of the season and second of the series to put the Blue Devils up by four.
The Blue Devils capitalized on free offense in the fourth. Florida State loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter before a run came home on a 4-6-3 double play to make it 6-1.
Swart found his groove in the middle innings, retiring seven straight batters from the third to the fifth. Lumpa doubled to start the sixth and Perez drove him in with an RBI single.
Florida State cut the margin to 7-3 in the bottom half on Gonzalez’s second home run of the season. A two-run shot to left, the homer was the first allowed by Swart since 2012.
Florida State made the game interesting in the bottom of the ninth. John Nogowski led off with a single off senior Robert Huber before a Brizuela fielder’s choice. Ben DeLuzio walked to put two aboard and John Sansone laced an RBI single to cut the lead to 7-4. A Gonzalez sacrifice fly trimmed it to 7-5 before Perez made a sensational play on a De La Calle grounder up the middle for the final out.
“I think everybody was a little nervous, but that’s what [Huber] does,” Pollard added. “He makes it a little exciting but he always gets it done. I’m proud of him, too.”
Next up, Duke heads to the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2009. The tournament runs May 20-25 at Newbridge Bank Park.