The No. 22 Texas Tech baseball team lost to Duke, 13-6, on Tuesday, April 16, in Durham, North Carolina, after struggling to find consistency at the pitcher’s mound.
Starting pitcher, sophomore Bryce Bonnin, hit Joey Loperfido with a pitch to put his first Blue Devil on base during the game. Kennie Taylor then singled with a hit to center field. Loperfido moved to third and Taylor advanced to second off a wild pitch. Chase Cheek then struck out swinging but made it to first off a wild pitch as Loperfido scored to give Duke a 1-0 lead.
Taylor then stole home to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
The second inning started with junior Brian Klein earning a single up the middle, senior Cameron Warren getting walked and freshman Tanner O’Tremba earning a single with an infield hit to load the bases. Sophomore Parker Kelly then grounded into a double play, but Klein was able to make it home to cut Duke’s lead, 2-1.
In the bottom of the third inning, Loperfido started the Blue Devils’ offense with a single to right field. Taylor followed, reaching first on a fielder’s choice, but Loperfido was thrown out at second.
Duke’s Matt Mervis singled through the right side, putting Taylor on third base. Taylor made it home after a wild pitch was thrown by Bonnin to grow Duke’s lead, 3-1.
Duke grew its lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Bonnin walked Erikson Nichols, hit Chris Crabtree with a pitch and gave up a hit to Loperfido, who singled with an infield hit to load the bases. Taylor then sent all three base runners home after earning a double to right field to extend Duke's lead, 6-1.
Sophomore Braxton Fulford started the fifth inning with a hit to right field for a single. Sophomore Dylan Neuse followed by reaching first on an error by Duke’s third baseman. Fulford advanced to third and Neuse advanced to second off the error. Fulford then cut Duke’s lead, 6-2, after scoring on a wild pitch.
Neuse was sent home with a sac fly hit by junior Josh Jung to cut the Blue Devils’ lead in half, 6-3.
After giving up six runs in four innings, Bonnin’s time at the mound came to an end and freshman Mason Montgomery entered the game in the fifth inning. Bonnin exited with seven strikeouts while giving up five hits and six runs.
Sophomore Kurt Wilson took the mound in the seventh inning after Montgomery pitched 2.0 innings and gave up two hits, no runs and earned no strikeouts. Wilson exited the game after Mervis earned a double, Kyle Gallagher singled with an infield hit and a wild pitch walked Cheek and sent Mervis home to grow Duke’s lead, 7-3.
Tech intentionally walked a batter to load the bases for the Blue Devils with one out in the bottom of the seventh and junior Caleb Freeman at the mound. After Freeman struck a batter out, Crabtree singled with a hit to right field which sent Gallagher and Cheek home to put the Blue Devils up, 9-3.
The eighth inning started with Holt and Klein being walked. Warren singled with a hit through the right side, sending Holt home to cut Duke’s lead, 9-4. The RBI was Warren’s 42nd of the season, making him the leader in the category by seven.
In the bottom of the eighth, freshman Cade Farr took the mound for Freeman, who only gave up one hit and struck two batters out in is 1.0 innings.
Fulford tried to catch a runner stealing at second, but as he made the throw Taylor tried to steal home and was ruled safe. After head coach Tim Tadlock challenged the play, the call was overturned to keep the score 9-4.
Cheek singled to left field, sending Gallagher home to put the Blue Devils up, 10-4. Freshman Trey Garlett entered the game as the sixth pitcher to take the mound for the Red Raiders.
Cheek scored to grow Duke’s lead to 11-4 after a hit to left field by Ethan Murray. With bases loaded, Crabtree doubled to left center, sending Murray and Rudy Maxwell home to extend the team's lead, 13-4.
Struggling to find consistency at the mound, Hunter Dobbins entered the game to pitch for the Red Raiders after Farr’s 0.2 innings and Garlett’s 0.0 innings. Dobbins closed the four-run inning with a strikeout.
Tech loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning after freshman Max Marusak singled with an infield hit, Neuse was walked and freshman Cole Stilwell singled with a hit to right field.
Marusak cut Duke’s lead down, 13-5, after scoring off a passed ball. Jung then singled through the left side to send Neuse home, chipping away the Blue Devils’ lead once again, 13-6. However, two-straight outs for the Blue Devils secured their win over the Red Raiders.
Tech will head back to Lubbock for a three-game series against Baylor, starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18. The series will continue at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, and the finale will start at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20.