NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Duke Blue Devils struck early and often while taking advantage of Vanderbilt mishaps en route to an 18-5 win in the opener of the NCAA Nashville Super Regional on Friday night at Hawkins Field.
The result halted Vanderbilt’s 12-game win streak and marked the most runs allowed by a Vanderbilt (52-11) team in NCAA Tournament history. Duke (35-25) scored in five different innings and finished a blistering .407 (11-for-27) with runners on base.
Duke scored four times in the third highlighted by a three-run home run from senior Kyle Gallagher. The left fielder turned on a 1-1 pitch from Vanderbilt starter Drake Fellows (12-1), lacing his eighth home run of the season into the left field bleachers for a 6-2 advantage.
Fellows struggled with his command, walking three batters while connecting for a strike in 52 percent of his 90 pitches. The right-hander allowed seven runs (five earned) on seven hits while striking out a season-low three batters in four innings.
Philip Clarke (2-for-4) crushed a two-run homer into right field in the fifth and Austin Martin (2-for-3) added a sacrifice fly an inning later to cut Vanderbilt’s deficit to 7-5. The homer was the eighth for Clarke who entered the day third in the SEC in RBIs and registered his 26th multi-hit performance.
Duke grabbed a run back in the seventh and broke things open in the eighth with the first 10 batters reaching and all nine batters contributing one run. The Blue Devils scored 10 times, the most allowed in a single frame by the Commodores this season.
Blue Devils’ right-hander Ben Gross (8-4) worked around five walks while allowing seven hits and five runs in 5.1 innings. Five Duke batters logged multiple hits including Gallagher (2-for-4) and Erikson Nichols (2-for-6) who each contributed four RBIs.
Vanderbilt looks to force a winner-take-all matchup when the squads return to action Saturday at 8 p.m. Right-hander Kumar Rocker (9-5, 3.91 ERA) takes the ball against righty Bryce Jarvis (5-1, 4.06 ERA). The contest can be seen on ESPNU and heard on WNSR 560 AM/95.9 FM and VUCommodores.com.