DURHAM, N.C. - The Georgia Bulldogs knocked off No. 12 Duke, 5-3, to force a winner-take-all game seven of the NCAA Durham Regional.
The 12th-seeded Blue Devils used 12 unanswered runs to win the regional, 13-5, in six innings. Georgia concludes the 2022 season 43-18 under first-year head coach Tony Baldwin.
Georgia's season ends after advancing through the consolation bracket of the Durham Regional, knocking off UMBC and Liberty en route to the regional championship.
Sophomore pitcher Madison Kerpics concluded the regional working 25 and a third innings in four appearances, going 2-1 with a save. She struck out 28 batters and threw 432 pitches in three days.
GAME ONE: Georgia 5, No. 12 Duke 3
Georgia's offense out-hit the Blue Devils, 9-8, led by two hits from each Jayda Kearney and Jaiden Fields. Ellie Armistead and Kearney were responsible for producing four of Georgia's five runs in the game.
Kerpics (20-10) went the distance in the circle, working seven complete innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, striking out nine Blue Devil hitters.
A leadoff bunt for a hit and a two-base throwing error put a Blue Devil runner on third. Duke successfully squeezed the runner on third home to go ahead 1-0 in the top of the third.
The Bulldogs answered back to tie it up in the home half of the inning. Sara Mosley reached on a two-out single then came all the way around to score on a triple off the wall down the right field line from Kearney, knotting the game at one-all in the third.
Georgia mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth. Back-to-back two-out singles from Fields and Sydney Chambley put a couple on. Both runners came in to score on a double ripped to left center from Armistead to go ahead 3-1. Walks to Lacey Fincher and Mosley loaded the bases but the scoring threat was cut short, sending the game to the fifth.
Duke cut the lead to one in the top of the fifth with an RBI single, 3-2. Georgia immediately got the run back on back-to-back doubles from Lyndi Rae Davis and Savana Sikes, Sike's fourth double of the regional, to go back ahead by two, 4-2.
Once again, Duke made it a one-run game in the top of the sixth, 4-3, but Georgia was able to get out of the inning and preserve the lead. The Bulldogs responded in the bottom of the inning when Kearney drove in Armistead with a single to right off new Duke pitcher Peyton St. George, bringing the Bulldog advantage to 5-3.
Kerpics worked around a one-out walk in the seventh to hold on and force the decisive game against the Blue Devils.
GAME TWO: No. 12 Duke 13, Georgia 5 (6 inn.)
Georgia's offense scattered 10 hits in the game with two hits each from Fincher, Kearney, and Armistead.
In her final game as a Bulldog, Fincher scored twice and hit a three-run home run.
Kerpics worked two and two-thirds innings in her fourth start of the regional, allowing three earned runs on six hits. Lauren Mathis (4-4) suffered the loss in relief. Georgia used five total pitchers in the contest.
Georgia came out swinging as Fincher led off with a double to left center. Mosley followed with a double to left center of her own, driving in Fincher and putting Georgia on the board. Following a single from Kearney and a walk to Sydney Kuma that loaded the bases, Mosley tagged up and scored on a foul out to the left fielder off the bat of Davis, widening the opening frame lead to 2-0.
Duke got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning, slicing the first inning lead to 2-1. Base hits from Fields and Armistead in the second set up a Fincher for a three-run home run to center, widening the advantage to 5-1 for the Bulldogs.
But then a two-out Duke rally plated four runs in the home half of the third to tie the game, 5-5. Kerpics exited the game with two out in the third.
Six runs in the fifth and two in sixth propelled the Blue Devils (44-9) to a Super Regional berth, as they went on to win, 13-5.
Duke will face No. 5 UCLA in a Super Regional matchup.