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Apr 21, 2019

Duke Edges Clemson 9-8

By: Brian Hennessy

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CLEMSON, S.C. – Matt Mervis’ leadoff homer in the ninth inning lifted Duke to a 9-8 win over No. 16 Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils, who swept the series 3-0, improved to 24-16 overall and 11-10 in the ACC. The Tigers dropped to 25-15 overall and 11-10 in ACC play.

Kennie Taylor hit a solo homer in the top of the first inning, then Kyle Wilkie hit a run-scoring single in the bottom of the first inning. The Tigers later had two runners in scoring position with one out but could not take the lead, as Bo Majkowski lined out to the shortstop to end the inning.

In the top of the second inning, Rudy Maxwell hit a two-out, run-scoring single, then Joey Loperfido belted a two-run homer. After the Blue Devils scored an unearned run with two outs in the third inning on an error, they took advantage of another costly Tiger error in the top of the fifth inning to score three runs, the last two on Chase Cheek’s two-run triple, to take an 8-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Tigers rallied for six runs to tie the score. Grayson Byrd crushed a solo homer with two outs, his fifth of the year, and the Tigers added another run on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch by Davis Sharpe after Bryar Hawkins extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single. Justin Hawkins then hit a 447-foot grand slam, his first homer of the season, to tie the score 8-8. In the seventh inning, the Tigers had two runners in scoring position with one out, but a 7-2 double play thanks to Kyle Gallagher’s throw kept the score tied.

Mervis led off the ninth inning with a long home run to put Duke in front. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Wilkie hit a deep drive, but Gallagher reached over the left-field fence to rob Wilkie of a long ball. Later in the inning with two outs and a runner on first base, Sharpe hit a long flyball, but the wind that was blowing in enabled Gallagher to make the game-ending catch at the fence.

Hunter Davis (1-2) pitched the final 2.2 innings without allowing a run to earn the win. Carson Spiers (1-3) suffered the loss.

The Tigers host Winthrop at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on ACC Network Extra. Tuesday is Senior ROTC Cadet Appreciation Day. Fans can purchase a ticket for only $2.

Photos by Carl Ackerman