GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Sophomore left-hander Trent Swart limited No. 13 Florida to two runs over six innings and sophomore right-hander Andrew Istler recorded the final four outs in the game as the Duke baseball team edged No. 13 Florida, 4-3, Friday evening at McKethan Stadium at Perry Field.
Swart, who did not earn the decision against the Gators, retired 10 straight batters at one point and gave up just four hits while striking out four. Junior Robert Huber (1-0) came on in relief to pick up the win, surrendering one unearned run, while Istler earned the save, the fourth of his career. Istler, a native of Wellington, Fla., came on with two outs in the bottom of the eight and retired all four batters he faced, including a strikeout to end the game.
"Trent Swart set a tone for the whole ball game," said head coach Chris Pollard. "[He] pitched great and really competed early. Put a lot of zeros up on the board early and that gave us a chance to get our offense going against a really good arm. We saw arguably the best arm we're going to see all year on the first night of the season. And [Jordan Crawford] was very, very good. He was as good as advertised. But Trent going in there and getting a lot of quick outs ... he did exactly what he needs to do which is pitch to contact."
Junior catcher Mike Rosenfeld led the Blue Devils at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, an RBI and a run scored. Junior third baseman Jordan Betts added a two-run homer in the fourth, while senior right fielder Jeff Kremer, junior shortstop Angelo La Bruna and junior center fielder Anthony D'Alessandro, who tripled in the fourth, added a hit each.
Florida grabbed an early lead, scratching out a run in the bottom of the second. With two outs, Gator designated hitter Justin Shafer singled to right center and advanced to third following a walk to third baseman Josh Tobias and a wild pitch. Right fielder Cory Reid proceeded to drive in the first run of the game with an RBI single.
Duke responded in the top of the fourth as redshirt sophomore Chris Marconcini led off the inning with a walk. Betts then belted the 0-1 offering from Florida starter Jordan Crawford over the fence in left center to give Duke a 2-1 advantage. Crawford, who surrendered just two home runs all last season, threw 3.2 innings, giving up two runs on three hits with four strikeouts.
"[Betts' home run] got everybody loosened up," said Pollard. "We talked about the fact that [Betts] was going to get challenged with fastballs. And we said before he went to the plate, 'You're going to get a fastball to handle early in the count. Get your foot down and be ready to hit it.'"
Swart did not permit a baserunner over the next two innings, but Florida was able to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth on a sac fly from first baseman Vickash Ramjit.
A strong defensive effort in the seventh prevented Florida from reclaiming the lead as second baseman David Perkins gunned down Shafer trying to stretch a double into a triple and La Bruna made a diving stop up the middle to record the final out of the inning.
With the momentum in its favor, the Blue Devil offense put two runs on the board in the eighth. Kremer drew a walk to lead off the inning and Rosenfeld drilled a triple to deep center field to put Duke up 3-2. A Florida error allowed Rosenfeld to score from third, bolstering Duke's lead to 4-2.
Florida got a run back in the bottom half of the frame as a Duke error on a pickoff attempt allowed leadoff man Harrison Bader, who reached on a fielder's choice, to score from third. With runners on first and second and two outs, Istler took the mound and got Ramjit to fly out to right to end the threat.
Florida left-hander Corey Stump (0-1) suffered the loss after giving up two runs on a hit and a walk in the eighth.
Duke returns to action against Florida tomorrow as the Blue Devils and the Gators are set for game two at McKethan Stadium at 4 p.m.