TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mack Waugh and the Florida State bullpen held Duke to just one run after the third inning to allow the 10th-ranked Seminoles to overcome a four-run deficit and take game three of the series 13-9 on Sunday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium.
Waugh entered the game with Duke (20-23, 4-17 ACC) leading 8-4 in the top of the second and held the Blue Devils to just three hits over 5.1 shutout frames. Florida State came within two runs after scoring in the fifth and sixth and then exploded for six runs in the seventh inning to take the lead. Brian Busch then took over and recorded the next five outs before Bennett entered the game in the ninth with the tying run on deck and ended the game for his second save of the series.
After taking a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the first, the Seminoles (31-10, 14-7 ACC) plated just one more run against Duke freshman starter Robert Huber. After Huber’s exit in the sixth, however, Florida State scored six runs off of Duke sophomore Chase Bebout (2-2) to reclaim the lead. Florida State catcher Parker Brunelle delivered the tying run with an RBI single in the seventh, and designated hitter Sean O’Brien delivered a game-winning sacrifice fly in the next at bat. A costly Duke error prolonged the inning, and Sherman Johnson capped the seventh-inning rally with a three-run double that increased the lead to four runs.
Florida State also got four RBI from first baseman Jayce Boyd, who finished 3-for-4 with a double.
Duke matched Florida State with 13 hits, but eight of those came in the first two innings off of starter David Trexler and reliever Gary Merians. The Blue Devils scored twice in the first and then used a six-run second inning to take the lead. Freshman outfielder Chris Marconcini and senior infielder Dennis O'Grady both contributed three hits and two RBI, and junior Will Piwnica-Worms also drove in a pair. Leadoff batter Jeff Kremer reached base for the 33rd consecutive game with two walks and a pair of singles.
Duke’s bats got started early, and the Blue Devils took a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to an RBI double by Marconcini and an RBI groundout by Piwnica-Worms. Florida State’s offense also started out hot, however, and jumped out in front 4-2 in the bottom half of the first after stringing together three straight doubles off of Huber. Huber forced a weak groundout from leadoff man Devon Travis, but then allowed the next five Seminole hitters to reach base safely, including a streak of doubles from James Ramsey, Boyd and Brunelle. All three of those two-baggers sent in a run before Huber finally ended the inning on a pair of groundouts.
The Florida State rally did little to kill Duke’s momentum, however, as the Blue Devils used aggressive base running and timely hitting to put up a six-spot for an 8-4 lead in the top of the second. The Blue Devils tagged six hits in the inning, including doubles from Jordan Betts and O’Grady, while freshmen Aaron Cohn and Anthony D'Alessandro put themselves in scoring position with stolen bases. Duke sent 11 batters to the plate, and nine of those reached base as the Blue Devils chased Trexler and Merians from the game in the same inning.
With an 8-4 lead, Huber retired six Seminoles in a row before O’Brien broke that streak with a leadoff single in the top of the fourth. That single was just a blip over Huber’s next two innings, however, as the freshman right-hander retired the next four batters he faced until the fifth inning.
The Seminoles finally got back on the board in the bottom half of that inning when Boyd drove a sacrifice fly to left field to cut the deficit to 8-5. The run was the first for either team since the second inning, Mack Waugh matched Huber with four shutout innings after entering the game in place of Merians in the second.
Huber left the game after the fifth and gave way to Bebout, who struck out the first two batters he faced, but then hit pinch hitter Sean Gilmartin and allowed a two-out RBI single to leadoff man Travis.
Travis’ single cut the Duke lead to 8-6 heading into the seventh inning. Waugh made quick work of the middle of Blue Devils order in the top of the inning, retiring the side on six pitches for his fifth straight shutout frame. Waugh needed just 54 pitches to get through his 5.1 frames, facing just two batters over the minimum during that span while surrendering just three hits.
Waugh kept Florida State in the game long enough for the Seminole offense to take the lead with a six-run seventh inning that included a go-ahead sacrifice fly from O’Brien and a three-run double by Johnson. O’Brien’s RBI flyout followed four straight singles, including a game-tying bloop single to shallow center field by Brunelle. The go-ahead sac fly ended the day for Bebout, who the Seminoles touched up for four runs after the sophomore right-hander fired 2.1 no-hit innings in Friday’s 2-1 loss. Eric Pfisterer then took over and induced a flyout for out number two and a groundout that should have been the third out, but an errant throw to first base by Betts prolonged the inning. Travis then drew a walk to load the bases, and Johnson hammered his three-run double off the center field wall to put the Seminoles ahead 12-8.
Busch took over for Waugh in the top of the eighth and allowed Betts to reach on a fielding error, but helped himself out of the jam when he gloved a hard-hit line drive and caught Duke’s runner off of second base for a double play. The scoreless inning was the sixth straight shutout frame for the Seminole bullpen.
Florida State traded a run in the bottom of the eighth for a Blue Devil run in the ninth, but Bennett put to rest any chance Duke had of tying the game. Thanks to a leadoff single by Kremer and a two-out walk by Piwnica-Worms and RBI single by O’Grady, Duke had the tying run on deck with the score at 13-9. Florida State went to Bennett, however, and the Seminole closer induced a groundout from Cohn to end the game.
Duke will now prepare for a midweek meeting with Davidson on Wednesday, March 27, at 6 p.m. The Blue Devils will then return to Durham Bulls Athletic Park on April 28-May 1 for the first of the team’s final two homestands in Durham.