Deitrich's RBI single in 12th hands UNC 5th straight loss
Things were so bad for Duke Saturday that the Blue Devils used four pitchers in the third inning alone, only to trail North Carolina by five runs.
That inauspicious start on a soggy day at Jack Coombs Field made things all the sweeter when, more than five hours after the game began, Duke celebrated a win with the sun peeking through the rainclouds.
The Blue Devils rallied twice, erasing deficits of five and two runs, before Ryan Deitrich’s bases-loaded single with one out in the 12th inning brought home the winning run in a 9-8 victory over the No. 18 Tar Heels.
One day after posting its first win over UNC since 2010, Duke (16-12, 6-5 in ACC) claimed the weekend series with the finale still to be played today at 1:05 p.m. It’s the first time in four years the Blue Devils have won a series over their rivals.
“We never really panicked,” Deitrich said. “We were down big early but we knew all along we were going to come back and chip away at that lead. We just really focused on having good at bats and taking it one pitch at a time.”
Deitrich came to the plate in the 12th inning facing UNC relief pitcher Spencer Trayner. Three of his teammates clogged the bases.
Chris Marconcini started the rally with a one-out walk off Zach Rice. Trayner replaced Rice but his pick-off throw went past first base for an error that allowed Marconcini to sprint to third.
Trayner issued intentional walks to Mike Rosenfeld and Aaron Cohn to load the bases.
The fact that Marconcini, Rosenfeld and Cohn were seniors who had never beaten UNC prior to Friday was not lost on Deitrich, who started his career at Pennsylvania.
“It’s kind of the reason I came here and transferred in,” Dietrich said. “You always want to beat the big-name teams. This rivalry means so much to the seniors who have already been here. I came up and there were three seniors on base. All they wanted was a shot to win the game. It came down to me and I had to do it for them.”
After Dietrich lined a clean base hit inside the third base bag, he rounded first base and was mobbed by his teammates.
The scene had Chris Pollard, Duke’s second-year coach, in a reflective and celebratory mood.
“That,” Pollard said, “was one of the more special wins I’ve ever been a part of in my career when you add all the circumstances together.”
It certainly didn’t start that way as UNC took advantage of Duke pitcher Andrew Istler’s command issues and four Blue Devil errors over the first three innings to lead 6-1.
Istler walked three and gave up five runs before leaving without recording an out in the third inning.
“We had the game right where we wanted it after (losing) yesterday,” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “If we can find a way to lose, we seem to be finding it. It’s disappointing.”
UNC (15-11. 5-6) starting pitcher Benton Moss opened the door for a Duke comeback in the bottom of the third inning. Duke used a single, two walks and a hit batter to scratch out two runs and trail 6-3.
“Two walks and a hit batter,” Fox said. “It didn’t seem like we could stand prosperity.”
Mark Lumpa’s RBI single in the fourth inning left UNC with a 6-4 lead.
In the Duke fifth, Marconcini singled and Rosenfeld walked to chase Moss with one out. Cohn’s RBI single cut UNC’s lead to 6-5 and Rosenfeld later scored the tying run on UNC catcher Korey Dunbar’s throwing error on Cohn’s steal of second base.
The Tar Heels forged ahead 8-6 in the top of the sixth when Michael Russell and Tom Zengel smacked back-to-back home runs off Duke’s Dillon Haviland.
But those were the only runs allowed by the last seven of the eight relief pitchers Pollard sent in for Duke.
Marconcini’s seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the seventh off Reilly Hovis, cut the Tar Heel lead to 8-7.
With two outs, Cohn doubled and scored on Deitrich’s infield single to tie the game at 8-all.
That, of course, wasn’t Deitrich’s last big hit of the day.