Richmond rallies to beat Duke, even season-opening series

Richmond scored six runs in the final three innings and stormed back from an early 6-0 deficit to beat Duke 9-8 Saturday in the second of a three-game series at Jack Coombs Field in Durham, N.C.

Senior righty Anthony Cafagna fired the final seven innings to get the win, while Mike Mergenthaler and Bryan Conway each had four of Richmond’s (1-1) 15 hits in the winning effort.

Mergenthaler and Conway each finished four-for-five, with Mergenthaler swiping a career-high three bases. Jacob Mayers (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover) had three hits, two RBI and scored three times and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth.

Duke (1-1) struck for five runs in first and tacked on another in the second, but the Spiders began chipping away in the fifth. After the first two batters were retired, Richmond went to work with four consecutive singles – getting an RBI knock from Mayers and a two-run hit from Derek Boliek to cut the margin in half.

After the Blue Devils got one back in the sixth, the Spiders got the bats going again in the eighth and scored four times to draw even at 7-7. An RBI from Chris Cowell made it 7-4, Robby Massar reached on an error to score a run, a passed ball allowed Cowell to score and Nick Poulos’s (Richmond, Va./Douglas Freeman) RBI groundout knotted the score.

Richmond took the lead for good in the eighth and Matt Zink triggered the two-run inning by reaching on a leadoff walk and stealing second. Mayers quickly drove him when he ripped a double to left field and the sophomore eventually scored on a wild pitch, proving to be a much-needed insurance run for the Spiders.

Cafagna, who relieved starter Bret Williams with no outs in the third inning, took the two-run lead to the ninth. Duke pushed a run across thanks to a sac fly and would eventually load the bases with two outs before Ryan Munger rolled a grounder back to Cafagna for the final out.

The senior scattered five hits and two runs over seven innings to get the win. Duke’s Drew VanOrden, who was yesterday’s winner in its 6-5 walk-off victory, was tagged the loss.

Richmond, which had base-runners on every inning, out-hit Duke 15-12 – just two of Richmond’s hits went for extra bases.

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