DURHAM, N.C. – Jacob Esch and Matt Skole each tagged four hits and combined for five RBI to lead No. 6 Georgia Tech past Duke 11-5 in a series-clinching win on Sunday afternoon at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Esch and Skole both finished 4-for-6 with Esch tagging a triple and two doubles in his first four at bats. Esch scored three times from the two spot in the batting order while Skole drove in two runs and scored twice to raise his batting average to .389 for the season.
Georgia Tech (23-6, 11-1 ACC) scored 10 runs in the first five innings, but let Duke come back within five by the end of the sixth. After starter Buck Farmer (5-1) left the game after the fifth inning, however, relievers Dusty Isaacs, Devin Stanton and Kevin Jacob combined to hold Duke to two hits over the final three innings.
Duke (16-14, 3-9 ACC) tagged 12 hits in the game and got a trio of three-hit performances from sophomores Jeff Kremer and Marcus Stroman and freshman catcher Mike Rosenfeld. Stroman tagged two doubles and scored twice while Kremer reached base safely four times and Rosenfeld – in his fourth career start – set career highs with his three hits and two RBI.
The Yellow Jackets took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a pair of triples from Jacob Esch and Jake Davies. Both of those three-baggers came off of right-handed freshman Mark Lumpa, who made his first career start for Duke on Sunday but was pulled in favor of classmate Drew Van Orden with two outs in the first inning.
Van Orden needed just eight pitches to retire the side in order in the second inning, but the Yellow Jackets regained their form with five runs on five hits in the third inning. Esch and designated hitter Daniel Palka both tagged doubles in the inning as the Yellow Jackets took a 7-0 lead.
Duke responded in the bottom of the fourth and scored on a pair of RBI singles from Angelo LaBruna and Rosenfeld, but Georgia Tech took both of those runs back and another in the top of the fifth. Esch contributed his third extra-base hit of the game with two men in scoring position for an RBI double, and Skole followed with an RBI single to right-center field to put the Yellow Jackets on top 10-2.
The Blue Devils continued to chip away at the lead, however, and scored one in the fifth and two in the sixth to cut the deficit to 10-5. Kremer opened the fifth inning with a double and scored on an RBI groundout by freshman cleanup hitter Jordan Betts, and Will Piwnica-Worms and Stroman opened the sixth inning with back-to-back hits to open another Duke rally. Stroman’s two-strike double to the left-center field gap plated Piwnica-Worms and put him in position to steal third and score on Rosenfeld’s ensuing single. Isaacs took over on the mound after Rosenfeld’s single, however, and ended the Duke rally with consecutive strikeouts to keep the Yellow Jacket lead at five runs.
Isaacs would shut Duke down over the next two innings before Stanton and Jacob closed out the ninth inning.
Up next for Duke are midweek showdowns against Wofford at home on Tuesday, April 5, and at UNC Greensboro on Wednesday. The Blue Devils will then return home to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for a three-game ACC set against Boston College on Friday through Sunday, April 8-10.