After being shut out by the Seminoles in the first game of the series, the Blue Devils put together a rally that nearly gave them a win in game two. But they came up short.
Trailing 9-3, Duke railed off five runs in the ninth inning before falling to No. 4 Florida State 9-8 at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
“It was a higher-scoring game on both sides,” Duke head coach Chris Pollard said. “Our guys did a good job of battling, and we put together a very good inning in the ninth that gave us a chance. I’m proud of our kids for having an answer and battling back.”
After giving up four runs in the seventh and trailing the Seminoles (41-13, 21-8 in the ACC) by six, the Blue Devils (31-23, 15-14) needed a spark. Duke freshman right-hander J.R. Holloway came out of the bullpen and provided just that, retiring all four batters he faced.
“J.R. Holloway coming in and getting four quick outs allowed the team to regroup and get some momentum,” Pollard said. “We carried that momentum into the top of the ninth.”
In the final inning, senior infielder Matt Berezo kicked off the Blue Devils’ rally with a single. Redshirt junior catcher Mike Rosenfeld then made it to first by drawing a walk bringing redshirt senior outfielder Ryan Deitrich to the plate. Deitrich brought the first run of the inning across the plate with an RBI double to left field. A sacrifice fly by catcher Cris Perez brought Rosenfeld home, and an error allowing senior right-hander Mark Lumpa to reach base kept Duke’s comeback going.
Senior infielder Jordan Betts kept the Blue Devils’ rally alive with a two-run double to make it a one-run game, bringing the go-ahead run in redshirt junior Chris Marconcini to the plate. Marconcini was close to playing hero for Duke, as he sent a fly ball to the warning track. But there was not enough power behind the ball and it fell in Ben DeLuzio's glove to end the game.
“A bunch of guys had very good at-bats,” Pollard said. “Matt Berezo started us off with a very good at-bat and got to first base. Then the guys who came in behind him gave really good at-bats. We were just getting the next guy to the plate in different ways. That’s what you do in an inning like that.”
Both teams went scoreless in the first two innings. Duke got on the scoreboard first in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead before Florida State responded with two runs. The Blue Devils managed lone runs in the fourth and seventh, failing to keep up with the Seminoles’ scoring output. Florida State put two runs on the board in the fourth and one in the sixth before its explosive seventh inning.
“We didn’t execute some pitches and some two-strike counts that led to some runs for [the Seminoles],” Pollard said. “We also made some mistakes on the bases that were runs off the board for us.”
Duke will look to capture at least one win against Florida State in its final game of the regular season Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
“We have to play with poise from the very first pitch,” Pollard said. “I have no doubt that we’ll be in a position to win the ballgame. We’ve got to come out with some clutch hits, make the routine plays and execute when we get ahead. If we do those things, we’ll have the opportunity to win the game in the end.”