LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Duke baseball team took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning before Liberty belted three home runs late to rally for the 4-3 victory Tuesday evening at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Duke (17-13, 7-5 ACC) outhit the Flames 10-7 but left nine runners on base compared to three for Liberty (22-7, 8-1 Big South). Redshirt junior Aaron Cohn totaled three hits, including his 10th double of the season, to lead the Duke offense. Junior Grant McCabe and sophomore Kenny Koplove also added two hits apiece to help the Blue Devil cause.
Junior Sarkis Ohanian suffered the loss (0-1) after allowing two runs on two hits over 1.1 innings of work. Junior Andrew Istler pitched the first four innings and limited the Flames to just two hits in the no decision.
Duke got on the board early with a run in the second. Cohn singled and moved to second on a Ryan Deitrich groundout before McCabe delivered the two-out RBI base hit to put the Blue Devils on top, 1-0.
Liberty left fielder Nick Lacik could not make the sliding grab on an Andy Perez double to start the fifth, ultimately leading to two more Duke runs. Senior Mark Lumpa then extended his on base streak to 17 straight games with a bunt single to establish runners at the corners. Senior Matt Berezo executed the squeeze play and Perez eluded the Liberty catcher’s tag to make it 2-0 in favor of the Blue Devils. Cohn then added his second hit of the game, roping an RBI single to put Duke up 3-0.
After slowing a potent Liberty offense through six innings, the Flames belted two home runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 3-3. First baseman Alex Close ripped a solo shot, his fifth of the season and third in as many games, over the wall in left. With a runner on first, pinch hitter Andrew Yacyk stepped to the plate and uncorked his second home run of the year to tie the game.
The Flames took their first lead of the game the following frame as second baseman Ryan Seiz sent his seventh home run of the season over the right field wall. Duke was unable to rally against Liberty reliever Matt Marsh (1-0), who picked up the win after holding the Blue Devils to one hit over the final 2.1 innings.
Duke hits the road this weekend for Georgia Tech, facing the Yellow Jackets in a three-game series in Atlanta April 4-6.