Duke moved within a win of reaching the College World Series for the first time in 62 years, and TCU will clinch a spot in the final eight of the NCAA Tournament with one more victory over Indiana State.
The Blue Devils opened their best-of-three super regional with a 5-4 win at No. 7 national seed Virginia on Friday, and TCU beat No. 14 Indiana State 4-1 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Since the tournament went to its current format in 1999, the winner of a super regional opener advanced to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska, 78% of the time (144 of 182).
Oral Roberts played at Oregon and South Carolina visited Florida in super regionals Friday night.
Virginia had entered Friday 35-4 at home, but two of those losses were to Duke in the regular season.
Duke went ahead 5-4 in the eighth inning on an RBI groundout and Luke Storm’s base hit, then secured the win when left fielder Tyler Albright caught Jake Gelof’s deep fly to the wall to end the game. It was the first time in 46 games that Virginia had lost when tied or leading after the sixth inning.
“Off the bat, I was a little nervous,” said Duke’s Damon Lux, who watched the winning catch from right field. “My throat kind of dropped into my stomach, but we made the play and got out of it.”
Duke’s only CWS appearances were in 1952, 1953 and 1961. This is the Blue Devils’ third super regional since 2018. Duke won its 2019 opener against Vanderbilt but lost the next two games.
TCU is playing its best ball of the season as it goes for a sixth CWS since 2010, and first under second-year coach Kirk Saarloos. The Horned Frogs are 18-2 since May 1.
Freshman Kole Klecker allowed three hits and struck out a season-high nine in seven shutout innings, and Luke Savage allowed only Keegan Watson’s homer over the last two innings.
Cole Fontenelle and Austin Davis homered in the third to put TCU up 3-0 against the No. 14 Sycamores, who had come from behind in each of their three regional wins. The loss was just their fifth in 42 games.
The four other super regionals open Saturday: No. 16 seed Alabama (43-19) at No. 1 Wake Forest (50-10); Texas (41-20) at No. 8 Stanford (42-17); No. 12 Kentucky (40-19) at No. 5 LSU (46-15); and Tennessee (41-19) at Southern Mississippi (45-18).
TCU announced the attendance at a record 8,812 at Lupton Stadium, quite a feat for a venue with a listed seating capacity of 4,500.
The overflow crowd was along the right-field line, outside the right-field fence and on the outfield berm.
The previous record was 7,383 for a 2015 super regional game against Texas A&M.
TCU is hosting the super regional even though Indiana State is a national seed. The Sycamores’ home field was unavailable because the school is hosting the Indiana Special Olympics this weekend.
DUKE GETS SCARE
Duke got a scare in the eighth inning of its game when Virginia catcher Kyle Teel’s pickoff throw hit Luke Storm in the face as he dived back to first base.
Storm is a right-handed batter, so the protective ear flap is on the left side of his helmet. He was trying to get back to the bag after taking a big lead, and Teel’s throw hit him on the right side of his face.
The athletic trainer and coach Chris Pollard tended to Storm, and he stayed in the game.
AROUND THE HORN
TCU is 5-0 when winning Game 1 of a super regional. … Freshman James Tallon set the Duke school record with his 12th save. … Jonah Cox’s bunt single in the first inning for Oral Roberts extended his hitting streak to 45 games, the sixth-longest in Division I history.