Key series win for Georgia Tech over Duke

Georgia Tech right fielder Stephen Reid was named a national and ACC player of the week on May 8, 2023 for his performance against Pittsburgh in a three-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium on May 5-7, 2023 when he hit four home runs and was 9-for-14 in the series. (Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athletics)

Credit: Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athle

Credit: Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athle

Georgia Tech right fielder Stephen Reid was named a national and ACC player of the week on May 8, 2023 for his performance against Pittsburgh in a three-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium on May 5-7, 2023 when he hit four home runs and was 9-for-14 in the series. (Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athletics)

Georgia Tech gained ground in its chase of an NCAA Tournament bid as the Yellow Jackets earned a series win on the road Sunday over top-10 Duke. At Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina, Tech defeated the Blue Devils 8-5 by scoring in each of the first five innings and then counting on relievers Ben King and Terry Busse to hold the Blue Devils scoreless over the final six innings.

After losing a Wednesday game at Kennesaw State, the Jackets won the weekend series two games to one, having won the series opener over Duke on Friday evening, also by an 8-5 score.

King and Busse were central to that win, too, limiting Duke to one run over the final four innings of the game. This was the most significant series win of the season for the Jackets (30-21, 12-15 ACC), who lost their first four road series of the season and may have needed to take down the Blue Devils (34-16, 15-11) to keep alive their hopes for an NCAA at-large bid.

“Both of them were major factors, not only (Sunday) but also on Friday,” coach Danny Hall said of King and Busse in comments recorded by the Tech communications office. “They just made pitch after pitch the whole weekend to get out of trouble.”

King lowered his ERA to 2.62 and improved to 6-0. Busse notched his ninth save of the season.

Tech was No. 57 in RPI going into the weekend. The Jackets improved to No. 45 as of Sunday evening, according to warrennolan.com.

The Jackets have won their past three series (over Gardner-Webb, Pitt and now Duke) and nine of their past 12 games.

The Jackets withstood injuries Sunday to right fielder Stephen Reid and third baseman Drew Compton, two key lineup cogs. The biggest hit of the game was provided by left fielder Angelo DiSpigna (a three-run home run in the top of the first, his 14th home run of the season). Second baseman Kristian Campbell was 4-for-5 with one run and one RBI.

On top of that, “Kristian Campbell made three tremendous plays to save us runs, quite honestly,” Hall said. “Couldn’t be more proud of the way he played defense (Sunday).”

Tech will finish the regular season this week with a game at Mercer on Tuesday and a three-game home series Thursday-Saturday against top-15 Virginia, another team the Jackets may need to earn a series win against to secure what would be their fourth consecutive NCAA bid.

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