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Duke baseball swarmed by Georgia Tech bats in final home series

Matt Mervis' four-RBI performance Sunday helped Duke avoid a sweep.
Matt Mervis' four-RBI performance Sunday helped Duke avoid a sweep.

Disrupting a bee colony can be dangerous—the Blue Devils learned that the hard way.

Duke pitching was chased by No. 10 Georgia Tech this weekend as the Blue Devils dropped two out of three in the regular season home finale at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Yellow Jackets swarmed out of the hive and stung in bunches. Georgia Tech doused the Blue Devils with 29 runs in the first two games before Duke finally found a way to slow down the Yellow Jackets Sunday and avoid a sweep.

Georgia Tech (35-15, 17-10 in the ACC) came out scorching from the outset Friday, scoring a pair of runs in the opening frame. Ethan Murray would cut the lead in half with a double in the bottom of the inning, but Duke's responses to numerous Yellow Jacket bursts would not be enough throughout the contest.

Georgia Tech tallied multi-run innings in the third, fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth en route to a 14-10 victory in Game 1. The Blue Devils responded with a pair in the third and a quartet in the bottom of the eighth behind a four-RBI performance from Matt Mervis.

Duke looked to add a strong pitching performance to its offense Saturday. And things looked good for the Blue Devils (29-21, 14-13) from the first pitch. 

Joey Loperfido drove the opening delivery over the centerfield wall and following another run and a scoreless frame from Bill Chillari, Duke found itself with a 2-0 lead after one inning. At that point, it looked as though the Yellow Jackets would have a tough time topping their 14-run explosion from the previous evening. 

However, Georgia Tech would rise to the challenge. The Yellow Jackets teed off on Chillari for 10 runs and eight innings of one-run ball on the mound would preserve a 15-3 win. Chillari surrendered the early advantage with a five-spot in the second inning, and a three-run home run from Colin Hall in the fourth knocked Chillari out of the contest, capped a second five-run frame for Georgia Tech and sent Duke to its fourth straight loss.

The Blue Devils needed a strong start from the undefeated Bryce Jarvis to avoid a series sweep Sunday. But, it was the Yellow Jackets that got on the board first with an RBI single through the left side of the infield from Tristin English in the top half of the first.

Michael Rothenberg sent the momentum in Duke's favor with an 0-2, two-out, three-run home run in the bottom half of the frame as the Blue Devils took a 3-1 lead. Georgia Tech would rally back against Jarvis to take a 4-3 edge in the fourth inning, but Duke would not go down with a sweep.

Kennie Taylor, Erickson Nichols and Loperfido went yard down the stretch for the Blue Devils and 3 1/3 scoreless innings from the Duke bullpen would secure the 10-4 victory and snap the losing streak. Jarvis earned his fourth win of the season after 5 2/3 solid innings on the mound. 

“I am very proud of Bryce Jarvis because we made some mistakes behind him early. They’re so offensive and they come at you in waves," head coach Chris Pollard told GoDuke.com. "If you flinch, you’ll look up and you’ll have given up four runs. We made some mistakes in the first and in the third, and he just wouldn’t flinch. He just kept making pitch after pitch. It was a tremendous job of competing and limiting the damage. I’m really proud of his effort.”

The Blue Devils will look to avenge last week's loss to Liberty Tuesday in Lynchburg, Va., and will close out the regular season on the road at Miami next weekend.

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