Duke Baseball charges to NCAA Super Regionals after breakfout campaign

Duke baseball charges to NCAA Super Regional after breakout campaign

could not handle the host team in the first game of the championship, falling 8-6 to set up a winner-take-all regional final. In that showdown, it was all Blue Devils from start to finish, as they scored in seven different innings during the contest en route to a dominant 12-3 victory. This win propelled the squad to the Super Regionals, a best-of-three series against top-8 national seed Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

“Once we got through the ACC tournament, it was a realization, hey, we’re gonna have to go on the road now in the NCAA tournament,” Pollard said. “Well, that pressure was off and we just kind of loosened back up and got back to who we were.”

Duke had reason to feel confident heading into supers, as it had already taken down the Cavaliers in an April series, winning two out of three games. In the first game of the series, the contest lived up to its implications, with the Blue Devils withstanding a three-run Virginia sixth inning by putting up a two-spot of their own in the eighth to enter the final inning up one run. Freshman James Tallon was tasked with closing out the game, and he did just that, slamming the door to secure the 5-4 victory and put Duke one game away from advancing to the pinnacle of college baseball.

However, Virginia’s potent offense proved to be too much for the depleted pitching staff of the Blue Devils, with star catcher and eventual first-round draft pick Kyle Teel dismantling Duke over the last two games of the trio and the Cavaliers winning by a combined 20 runs and advancing to the College World Series, ending Duke’s Cinderella season.

“My hope is that we restore the identity and the culture of the program back to being known for toughness, and I feel so much gratitude … because they took that to heart and regardless of what happened this year, nobody can say that this group wasn’t tough and I’m proud,” Pollard said when asked about the goals for the season and how he thought the team met them.

Despite the downer ending to the 2023 season, Pollard has fielded what should be another excellent team for 2024, as Santucci returns with first-round draft hype and has an offense bolstered by a deep transfer class to complement Stone and other returning contributors.

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