WACO, Texas - Colby May went 3-for-4 with three RBI and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle as No. 22 Georgia defeated Duke 10-5 to split the series Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.
May hit a two-run homer in his first at bat, a one-run double in his second and a single in his third appearance. His RBI double in the third inning put Georgia back on top after Duke staked a temporary 3-2 lead in the second inning. The Bulldogs (2-1) did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game, thanks to three shutuout innings from the relief duo of Cooper Moseley and Steve Esmonde.
Duke (1-3) tagged Georgia starter Michael Palazzone for five earned runs on six hits through six complete innings, but could not keep the Bulldog offense in check. After reclaiming a 4-3 lead in the third, Georgia scored three times in the fifth and once each in the seventh, eighth and ninth.
Duke senior Jeremy Gould and freshman Eric Brady strung together two hits apiece to extend their season-opening hitting streaks to four games. Brady, hitting in the leadoff spot for the second straight game, scored once in his second consecutive multi-hit game. Brady and Gould are hitting .467 and .429, respectively, and have accounted for 13 of Duke's 34 hits.
Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer matched May with three hits, including two doubles. Georgia mashed five extra-base hits in the game.
Duke freshman Devin Burke (0-1) took the loss in his collegiate debut after surrender four runs on five hits in three-plus innings of work. Classmate Chase Bebout also made his debut and tossed two innings in relief of Burke.
Georgia's win splits the series with Duke after the Blue Devils defeated the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs 9-5 on Saturday evening at Baylor Ballpark.
Georgia took an early lead on the first-inning home run from May that put the Bulldogs on top 2-0. May's long ball cleared the left field wall and scored leadoff man Josh Taylor, who drew a walk to start the inning. The homer did not phase Burke, however, as he bounced back to induce two straight groundouts to get out of the inning.
Duke quickly tied the score in the bottom half of the first though, thanks to a two-out rally that started with a walk from shortstop Jake Lemmerman. Lemmerman got a free trip around the bases after the walk, advancing to third on a throwing error by Palazzone on a failed pickoff and then scoring one pitch later on a wild pitch. Gould then hit a high chopper down the third base line that went for a double and scored from second on the next at bat when sophomore Will Piwnica-Worms drove a base hit into left field.
The Blue Devils went ahead 4-3 in the top of the second on an RBI single from Brian Litwin that plated freshman Marcus Stroman. Stroman doubled down the left field line with one out in the inning and then stole third to put himself 90 feet from the plate. Litwin then hammered a line drive that popped out of the glove of Georgia first baseman Kevin Ruiz and dribbled into left field. Litwin would go on to steal second base for Duke's second swipe of the inning , but was left stranded there when Palazzone retired the next two hitters in succession.
Georgia quickly reclaimed the lead, however, thanks to two-run third that started with a pair of leadoff singles from Todd Hankins and Josh Taylor. Nine-hitter Todd Hankins led off the inning with a base hit to left field and then put himself in scoring position by stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch. Taylor then slapped a grounder through the right side for an RBI single that tied the game at 3-3. May then connected on his second extra-base hit of the game with an RBI double that banged off the left field wall and put the Bulldogs back on top 4-3.
Duke got into a jam in the top of the fourth, but got out of it thanks to a clutch defensive play from Stroman. With the bases loaded and two outs, Peter Verdin chopped a ground ball to the right side. Stroman, playing second base, charged it and made a pick on the short hop in the base path just as the runner crossed. He got the ball out of his glove quickly and flipped it to Gould to get the runner by a step.
The Bulldogs took advantage of their scoring opportunities in the top of the fifth, however, and sent in three more runs on a pair of bases-loaded singles to jump ahead 7-3. Kevinn Ruiz sent in the first with an infield hit just before Farmer drove in two runs with a base knock through the right side. A heads-up defensive play by freshman third baseman Eric Brady saved Duke any further damage. With men on first and second after Farmer's single, Litwin caught a fly ball in foul territory in right field. He fired the ball to Brady at third base as the runner on second tagged, but Brady turned around and sent the ball to second where Stroman applied the tag to Farmer, who tagged up from first.
A leadoff walk to Litwin and a single from Brady to start the bottom of the fifth keyed a two-run rally for the Blue Devils that cut the deficit back to two runs at 7-5. After Duke's first two batters reached, freshman Mike Carroll moved them into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Lemmerman then sent the first in with a groundout to shortstop before Gould sent in Brady from second base with a base knock into left field. The hit was the second of the game for Gould, who extended his season-opening hitting streak to four games along with Brady in that same inning.
Sophomore right-hander Trevor Cesar entered the game for Duke in the top of the sixth and retired the first three hitters he saw. He struck out the last two he faced, getting one to chase a curve ball off the plate and the other to swing through a fastball low and away.
A leadoff single in the top of the seventh led to another Georgia run, however, and increased the lead back to three at 8-5. Cone tagged the single to center field and soon after put himself in scoring position by stealing second. A groundout moved him to third where he scored on the next at bat on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Robbie O'Bryan.
With an 8-5 lead in hand, Georgia went to the bullpen and called on Moseley to take over for Palazzone, who threw six complete innings. Moseley gave up a single to Brady - his second hit of the game - but got some help from his center fielder when Cone threw out Brady trying to stretch the single into a double. From there, Moseley struck out Carroll to end the inning.
Following Cesar's departure after the seventh, Dennis O'Grady took the mound and threw a one-run eighth inning for the Blue Devils. He would hand the ball over to Gould for the ninth, but the Bulldogs would not let him escape unharmed. Following a leadoff walk to Cone, Cone stole second and then crossed the plate on consecutive passed balls. That run ran Georgia's lead to 10-5, which stuck after Esmonde retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth.
Up next for the Blue Devils is a three-game home series against Fordham on Feb. 26-28. The series will be Duke's debut at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, home of the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. That will be the first of Duke's six series at the park, which is one of the top minor league venues in the country.
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