DURHAM, N.C. – With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th, redshirt senior Ryan Deitrich laced a single down the left field line to lift the Duke baseball team to a 9-8 walk-off victory over No. 19 North Carolina Saturday afternoon at a rain-soaked Jack Coombs Field. A gritty performance throughout, the Blue Devils trailed 6-1 in the third and 8-6 in the seventh before rallying to send the game to extra innings.
“I thought we showed tremendous fight,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “This was one of the more special wins I’ve ever been a part of in my career.”
Redshirt junior Chris Marconcini drew the one-out walk in the 12th and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt. North Carolina (15-11, 5-6 ACC) then issued intentional walks to Mike Rosenfeld and Aaron Cohn to load the bases for Deitrich. The Collegeville, Pa., proceeded to smoke UNC reliever Spencer Trayner’s 1-0 pitch past the outstretched glove of diving third baseman Alex Raburn to drive in the game-winning run.
“We never really panicked,” Deitrich added. “We were down big early but we knew all along we were going to come back. We just really focused on having good at bats and taking it one pitch at a time.”
The game appeared to be slipping away from the Blue Devils early as the Tar Heels plated six runs over the first three frames. Duke issued six walks and committed four errors to aid North Carolina’s offense, which totaled five hits during that span.
Duke’s first run came home in the second after junior Grant McCabe singled with two outs and sophomore Kenny Koplove belted an RBI double to put the Blue Devils on the board. Trailing 6-1, Duke picked up two more runs in the bottom of the third to make it a three-run game. Senior Matt Berezo singled to extend his hit streak to seven games, then scored after back-to-back walks and a hit batter. Deitrich lifted a sacrifice fly in the inning as well, the first of his three RBI on the afternoon.
A Mark Lumpa RBI single in the fourth cut the deficit to 6-4 before the Blue Devils completed the initial comeback with two runs in the fifth. Lumpa’s base knock also extended his on base streak to a team-best 15 games.
The momentum shifted in the Tar Heels’ favor in the sixth following back-to-back solo home runs off the bats of shortstop Michael Russell and first baseman Tom Zengel put North Carolina up 8-6 late.
Undeterred, Duke again had the answer. Marconcini ripped his ACC-leading seventh home with one out in the seventh before Cohn added a two-out double. Cohn would come home on a Deitrich infield single to knot the score at eight-all.
Marconcini led a contingent of four Blue Devils with multiple hits, going 3-for-4 with four runs scored, two walks and an RBI. Deitrich also added three hits, while Cohn and Perez chipped in with two each.
After breaking a nine-game losing streak to North Carolina with Friday night’s victory, Duke captured its first series victory over the Tar Heels since 2010.
The series finale between the two ACC rivals is set for 1 p.m., Sunday at Jack Coombs Field.