CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Duke baseball team fell, 4-3, to 12th-ranked Miami in a tightly-played contest that saw the Hurricanes pull away late with one run in the eighth. Thursday’s series opener at Mark Light Field moves the Blue Devils’ record to 29-23 overall and 14-14 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
The two teams traded runs in throughout the early frames, resulting in a 3-3 tie after six innings of action. Miami (37-16, 17-11) rallied for one run in the bottom of the eighth to break the tie to secure the series-opening win.
Duke received a solid start from graduate student Ben Gross. The right-hander worked 5.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and two walks while collecting a trio of strikeouts. Sophomore Bryce Jarvis (4-1) was the tough-luck loser in the ballgame, suffering his first loss of the season in the relief effort. Jarvis tossed 2.1 frames, yielding one earned run on two hits while striking out five. Fellow sophomore Matt Dockman worked a third of an inning, recording the final out of the eighth on a five-pitch strikeout.
The Blue Devils kicked off the day’s scoring, plating one run in the second to grab the early 1-0 lead. With one down in the inning, sophomore Michael Rothenberg reached on a one-out walk. One out later, fellow sophomore Chris Crabtree sent a single to right field to place two on. With runners on the corners, Crabtree broke for second in a steal attempt allowing Rothenberg to come across from third on the throw to second to score the game’s first run.
The Hurricanes answered right back with a run of their own in the home half of the second to knot things up. With two outs, Alex Toral sent the first pitch of the at-bat to deep center field for a solo home run to even the score at one apiece after two innings of play.
Duke put up a single tally in the fourth to move ahead and take a 2-1 lead. Facing a 0-1 count, Rothenberg crushed a ball over the right field wall for a solo shot to give the Blue Devils the one-run lead. The homer marked the Duke catcher’s team-leading ninth home run of the season, and third consecutive game with a long ball.
The Blue Devils returned in the sixth to add a run to extend their lead to 3-1. Junior Matt Mervis led off the inning with a double to left center. One out later, Rothenberg collected his second RBI of the evening with a single to right field to plate Mervis and give Duke a two-run lead.
Miami responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back home runs to tie things at three. With one down, Toral launched his second home run of the ball game with a solo homer to right field. In the very next at-bat, Michael Amditis followed with another solo shot to left field to make it a 3-3 contest after six full.
The Hurricanes broke through with one run in the eighth to break the tie and move ahead. A leadoff walk followed by a sacrifice bunt placed a runner in scoring position for Miami. One out later, a single that kicked off first base into shallow right field allowed the runner to score from second to put the Hurricanes in front, 4-3, the eventual final.
Duke and Miami return to the diamond on Friday for another 7 p.m. start at Mark Light Field. The game-two pitching matchup will feature junior left hander Bill Chillari for the Blue Devils, and junior right-hander Evan McKendry for the Hurricanes. Coverage will air live on ACC Network Extra.
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