ATHENS, Ga.—Not even a nearly five-and-a-half-hour "halftime" could help the second-seeded Blue Devils regroup and recover from an early deficit in its NCAA tournament opener Friday.

Second-seeded Duke surrendered four runs in the third inning and lost to No. 3 seed Troy 6-0 at Foley Field in a game that was interrupted by a lengthy rain delay in the middle of the fifth inning. The game took more than eight hours to complete, and the Blue Devils will now have to win four straight games the rest of the weekend to keep their season alive and advance out of the Athens Regional's double-elimination format.

"We’ve got to swing the bats a lot better than we swung the bats tonight," Duke head coach Chris Pollard said. "That’s no disrespect to Troy. Their guys both threw the ball well and they threw a lot of strikes, but we’re a better offensive club than that."

Senior starter Ryan Day cruised through two hitless innings for the Blue Devils (40-16), but his outing unraveled quickly in the third frame. Freshman Manning Early roped a single from the bottom of the order to get the offense started for the Trojans, and leadoff man Matt Sanders smacked doubled off the wall in left-center field to put runners on second and third.

After a walk to load the bases, redshirt senior Joey Denison drove in all three runners with a double just out of center fielder Kennie Taylor's reach, and Day's afternoon was done an hour later when he gave up another single.

Freshman Bryce Jarvis took the mound and immediately surrendered an RBI double down the left-field line to Brody Binder to put Troy in front 4-0, and the Trojans (42-19) tacked on another run off Jarvis in the fourth inning before leaving the bases loaded.

After a couple of quiet half-innings, the rain came. Clear skies quickly darkened, and thunderstorms dumped rain on Athens for about two hours with the tarp on the field. The rain subsided for good earlier than expected at about 6:30 p.m., but with both teams back at their respective hotels by then, the game still could not resume until 9:15 p.m.

"We tried to cram the calories in them and really tried to rehydrate, try to get them off their feet," Pollard said. "We talked about it kind of being halftime of the game. We had a long half, and then we were going to come out and play the second half of the ballgame."

Duke's only chances to get on the scoreboard came before the delay. When the game was still scoreless in the bottom of the second, the Blue Devils had runners on the corners with one out, but Jack Labosky and Michael Smiciklas both swung and missed at strike three to strand them. 

Duke was in an identical first-and-third situation with one out and top slugger Griffin Conine at the plate in the third, attempting to respond to Troy's big inning. The junior pulled a line drive just a couple of feet foul before striking out on a high fastball, and freshman Joey Loperfido hit a routine fly ball to center field to end the threat. Conine finished the day 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

"[Andrew] Crane is a good arm, and we had him on the ropes a couple times there early in the ballgame. We struck out with a runner at third and less than two outs, and we’ve got to execute in that situation," Pollard said. "Early in a ballgame like this, especially against a really good offensive club who’s throwing their horse, you’ve got to try to push those runs across." 

The Blue Devils only put two men on base in the final six innings of the game off senior Trojan reliever Corey Childress, who dominated with a career-high nine strikeouts. It was the first time Duke was shut out since March 10.

"He was definitely pounding the zone, had the offspeed working for him, had a little two-seamer on away from lefties, into righties," Kone said. "I would just say he was really throwing strikes."

Troy quickly stretched its lead after the game restarted, scoring a run in the sixth when shortstop Zack Kone bounced a throw to first to spoil a potential inning-ending double play, and the Trojans protected their comfortable cushion the rest of the way.

The Blue Devils will look to extend their season and pick up their first NCAA tournament win since 1961 Saturday at 4 p.m. against the loser of the game at noon between top-seeded Georgia and No. 4 seed Campbell.

"We probably need to come up with two plans, one for each game, depending on who we play," Pollard said. "We’ll spend some extra time on that in the morning, but I have a good feeling this club will come out playing very hard and very hungry."