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Historic moments: Duke baseball stuns Vanderbilt in Game 1 of the super regionals

Michael Rothenberg picked up right where he left off in this 2020 season, slashing a team-high .349 batting average.
Michael Rothenberg picked up right where he left off in this 2020 season, slashing a team-high .349 batting average.

The Chronicle’s best wins bracket  previously introduced some of Duke men’s basketball’s top moments  throughout the years. This new series coincides with those moments,  shedding light on some of Duke Athletics’ other highlights throughout  the school’s storied history. We hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane. Today's moment: Duke baseball snags a game from Vanderbilt in the 2019 Super Regionals.

Just one series away from their first College World Series appearance since 1961, the Blue Devils faced their toughest matchup of the season in the 2019 Nashville super regionals: the No. 2 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores.

The baseball powerhouse Commodores had been a seemingly unstoppable force throughout their three-game regional tournament, outscoring opponents 28 to eight. The upcoming series was a mountain to climb for the unranked Blue Devils. 

The first two innings presented a great matchup and left the teams tied at two, but in the top of the third, Duke catcher Michael Rothenberg broke it open with an RBI single. They dropped a four-spot that inning and the team never looked back. 

Stellar Blue Devil pitching from both Ben Gross and Matt Dockman kept the eager Vanderbilt bats at rest and brought the team to an 8-5 lead through seven innings. There was magic in the air as Duke was beginning to see victory on the horizon. 

That taste of what could be fueled the Blue Devils in the next inning. The floodgates opened and they did not stop. The team scored 10 runs in that single half inning through a combination of lethal contact hitting. They forced Vanderbilt to cycle through two relievers, who threw a combined 62 pitches. 

The Commodores seemed out of answers following that. Blue Devil reliever Eli Herrick entered the game and pitched two scoreless frames to lockdown the contest. Duke finished the game with 18 runs on 15 hits and seven walks in one of its greatest performances of the season. 

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the magic ran out after game one. The bats fell silent in game two, as they were no-hit and game three was a 13-2 beatdown. Vanderbilt went on to win their second College World Series and Duke was sent searching for redemption. 

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