Blue Devils start fast, fizzle in Elon's 4-run 5th

Duke shortstop Brett Bartles wasted no time. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Bartles laced a solo shot out of Jack Coombs Field to put the Blue Devils on the board.

Though Duke started the game strong, the Blue Devils ultimately fell to Elon, 10-6, Wednesday afternoon.

The Blue Devils (2-5) extended their early lead to three runs with a pair of runs in the second before Elon (5-3) came alive in the fifth. With the score 3-1, the Phoenix exploded for four runs, including infielder Paul Bennett's three-run homer.

"I think it was a different type of game than what we have played before," Duke head coach Sean McNally said. "We jumped out early, got a lead, and had some opportunities in the middle of the game to maybe separate a little bit. We weren't able to do that."

Duke answered in the bottom of the fifth with Tim Sherlock's solo shot over the right field fence, but still trailed by one, 5-4.

But the Blue Devils would not get any closer. The Phoenix scored four runs in the seventh inning on four hits, including an RBI triple by Bennett. Seven straight Elon batters reached base after Duke pitcher Ryan Perry retired Ryan Addison, the Phoenix's first batter of the inning.

Duke scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough to overcome Elon's lead.

"I feel real good that we came out in the ninth and came pretty close to getting it down to one swing or one guy on base away from getting the tying run to the plate," McNally said. "It's just a matter of carrying it through the whole game and getting some timely hits."

Despite the loss, the Blue Devils continue to gain experience. McNally said freshman Matt Williams, who hit an RBI triple in the second inning and finished 4-for-4, played particularly well, and also singled out fellow freshman Sherlock.

"[Williams] took good swings and had a really good day," McNally said. "He's growing in his role as a catcher and starting to find his voice a little bit. Tim Sherlock hit a home run in the second game and this one he really drove that ball."

Although freshman right-hander Jimmy Saris took the loss, McNally was pleased with the way he pitched. Saris went six innings, allowing five runs on six hits while striking out four.

Duke had 10 hits during the game and Elon racked up 12. The Phoenix, however, more efficiently converted hits to runs.

"We have kind of hit in spurts, but not consistently and not consistently at the right time," McNally said. "It's a growing process and we are hitting. We are showing we can swing the bats."


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