GREENSBORO, N.C. – After battling back from a three-run deficit, the Duke baseball team pulled ahead 8-6 in the 12th before surrendering three runs in the bottom portion of the frame to fall 9-8 at UNC Greensboro Tuesday evening.
The two teams combined to strand 29 runners, but UNC Greensboro (1-0) was able to come up with key hits when necessary. Duke (2-2) went 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position while the Spartans went 5-for-15 in comparison.
Redshirt junior Chris Marconcini enjoyed a fantastic outing as the right fielder reached base in all seven of his plate appearances. The Brentwood, Tenn., native went 4-for-4, adding three stolen bases, three runs scored and two RBI.
Duke struck first in extra innings, scoring a pair to start off the 12th. Marconcini singled and scored on a Jordan Betts base hit before a UNCG error yielded the Blue Devils’ eighth run on the contest. The final RBI was Betts’ second of the night. The Wilmington, N.C., native turned in a 3-for-7 outing while also scoring two runs.
However, a one-out error in the bottom of the 12th would kickstart the Spartan rally. Back-to-back singles loaded the bases before second baseman Hunter King narrowly beat out an infield single to keep the game alive. With the lead trimmed to one, first baseman Julian Abreau lined a shot to left center for the walk-off victory.
Duke had led by three early, putting two runs on the board in the second and adding another in the third. Following a lone run in the third, the Spartans utilized three hits, two hit batters and a walk to plate five runs in the fourth, staking a 6-3 advantage.
Sophomore Nick Hendrix came in to stop the bleeding and paved the way for several solid performances out of the Duke bullpen. Bolstered by strong outings from Chris Kono, Robert Huber and Conner Stevens, the Blue Devil pitching corps did not allow an earned run the rest of the way.
Marconcini laced a two-out RBI double in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch in the seventh to pull Duke within a single run. An Andy Perez sacrifice fly scored Mark Lumpa in the eighth to even the game at 6-6, a stalemate that would stand three complete innings.
Junior Andrew Istler (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing three unearned runs on four hits in the 12th. Caleb Henley (1-0) pitched the final 1.2 innings for the Spartans, permitting two runs on two hits in the win.
Duke returns to action Friday, Feb. 21 as the Blue Devils host La Salle in the opening contest of the 2014 Duke Baseball Classic presented by Homewood Suites by Hilton RDU/RTP.