Duke withstands ninth inning rally to defeat Campbell 9-7 Tuesday evening

Jake Kirkland (photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Jake Kirkland (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK – Duke (13-17) used a six-run eighth inning to take a 9-2 lead before withstanding a five-run rally from Campbell in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday evening in a 9-7 victory. The Blue Devils earn a split in the season series with Campbell (25-5) after the Fighting Camels took a 10-4 win earlier this season in Durham.

Andy Perez finished 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI to lead the Blue Devil offensive attack. Duke threatened early, putting the leadoff man on base in each of the first four innings.

In the top of the third, consecutive singles to start the frame chased CU starter Paul Eyster from the game. Mike Rosenfeld then provided an RBI single off Camel reliever Heath Bowers to open the scoring and Will Piwnica-Worms followed with a two-RBI double that put Duke up 3-0 after three innings.

Campbell shaved one run off the deficit in the fourth inning, courtesy of David Olson's RBI double down the right field line that brought Jake Kirkland all the way around from first base. The Camels then loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth inning. Kirkland drew an RBI base on balls before Duke went to the bullpen and Dillon Haviland recorded a strikeout to leave the bases loaded with Camels and keep the Blue Devils in front 3-2.

Duke seemed to put the game away in the top of the eighth inning when the visitors batted around, scoring six runs on five hits and taking advantage of three walks in the frame. Andrew Istler's two-RBI single through the left side scored Angelo La Bruna and Perez to conclude the Duke scoring and give the Blue Devils a 9-2 advantage.

The Fighting Camels mounted a furious rally in the ninth, with Ben Fish and Jimmy Brenneman contributing singles to start the spurt. McQuown then laced a one-out double down the left field line that scored two runs and pulled CU within five runs.

After Michael Felton singled to the shortstop to conclude a 2-for-4 night for the Big South's leading hitter, Kirkland blasted his sixth homer of the season on a three-run round-tripper that brought the Camels within a 9-7 deficit. Kirkland finished the evening 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. Duke then brought in David Putman out of the bullpen, and he retired the final two CU batters to earn his fourth save of the season.

Eyster took the loss for Campbell after allowing four hits and two runs in his two innings of work, falling to 1-1 this season. Haviland earned the win, tossing 3.1 innings of two-hit, scoreless baseball to improve to 1-1 on the year.

Campbell returns to the diamond on Friday evening, travelling to Liberty for a first place showdown with the Flames. Both teams are 5-1 in the Big South Conference, tied with High Point for first place. Duke hosts Clemson on Friday in the next contest for the Blue Devils.