Elon's big 4th inning dooms Duke

Coming off a series victory against Seton Hall, the Blue Devils could not keep their momentum rolling Wednesday.

Plagued by a four-run breakout inning, Duke suffered a 9-3 loss to Elon in its first road game of the year yesterday afternoon at Latham Park.

Trailing 3-0 after the third inning, Duke senior Javier Socorro was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on errors. Socorro scored on a wild pitch to put the Blue Devils (2-3) on the board, cutting Elon's lead to two in the top of the fourth.

The Phoenix (2-2), however, immediately responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-out, four-run rally to break open the game.

"I give a lot of credit to Elon," Duke head coach Sean McNally said. "I thought they played well, played hard. The game got away from us a little in the fourth inning. A 3-1 game got stretched out to 7-1."

The Phoenix was efficient, scoring four runs on five hits. Elon's Ryan Addison started the rally with a two-out single and stole second to place himself in scoring position.

The inning was highlighted by an RBI double roped down the rightfield line by first baseman Chris Vasami to cap the scoring at six. Vasami finished the game going 3-for-3 at the plate, as well as scoring and batting in a run.

The Blue Devils, however, did not give up and came back in the top of the sixth. Shortstop Brett Bartles reached first on a Phoenix throwing error and advanced on a single by designated hitter Jimmy Gallagher on the next play. Socorro then ripped a double to right-centerfield that drove in two runs and reduced the lead to 7-3.

Elon scored a run in both the sixth and seventh innings to bring the final tally to 9-3.

"I was really proud of our effort," McNally said. "We cut the game to 7-3 in the sixth. We had a chance to add on and really get back in the game, but I thought Elon's bullpen did a really good job. They brought in Chad Tilley, who struck out four or five hitters and I thought that was critical."

The Blue Devils' bats struggled against the Phoenix pitchers, going 6-for-34 at the plate. Phoenix starter Ryan Basham was awarded the win, allowing six hits in five and one-third innings. Relievers Tilley, Justin Bors, Kory Radford and Tom Porter combined to allow no hits and close out the game.

The Blue Devils also used five pitchers, including four who took the mound for the first time this season. It was another opportunity for the Blue Devil pitchers to gain valuable game experience.

"We got a chance to look at five guys on the mound, including four guys who had not pitched at this point," McNally said. "We got strong performances from Jim Perry and Ryan Perry."

Southpaw starter Gallagher, who struck out two, gave up three hits in three innings in the loss. Pitcher Russell Durfee took the mound in the fourth, allowing five hits and four runs in one inning. Daniel Palmer and Jim Perry gave up a hit and a run apiece, while Ryan Perry finished the game with two strikeouts.

"We've got some chances to practice for the next week or so," McNally said. "We're off until next Tuesday, that gives us another chance to evaluate things."


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