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Duke wins first ACC baseball title since 1961
–The ninth-seeded Blue Devils knocked out third-seeded NC State 1-0 on Sunday in the CCA Baseball Championship game in Charlotte.
Published: 05/30/2021 2:37:00 PM
Updated: 2021-05-30 14:49:22
Posted May 30, 2021 2:37 p.m. EDTU May 30, 2021 2:49 p.m. EDT
The ninth-seeded Blue Devils knocked out third-seeded NC State 1-0 Sunday to win their first ACC baseball title since 1961.
Prior to Sunday, Duke had never reached the ACC tournament championship game, let alone won the tournament (which was first played in 1973).
To give you an idea of where Duke’s baseball program was when Chris Pollard was hired in Appalachian State after the 2012 season:
The Blue Devils failed to qualify for the ACC tournament, which doesn’t include all 14 league teams (Syracuse doesn’t have a schedule) eight times in 10 years between 2006 and 2015.
The Devils (32-20) did it the hard way with four wins in Charlotte, including a spectacular win over Miami in pool play on Thursday.
It was the first 1-0 final of the ACC Championship game. NC State had more hits (five) than Duke (four) and the Blue Devils made two mistakes, but Duke led in the only stat that mattered.
NC State (30-17) was chasing their first ACC title since 1992, but fell short against the Devils. Duke has won 12 straight games since losing 15-6 to Louisville on May 8.
Shortstop Ethan Murray doubled up to lead the fourth inning, then scored after two steals sacrificed to give Duke a 1-0 lead.
The Devils looked like they were going to make their way into the third inning when midfielder Joey Loperfido doubled up to the right. Graham Pauley tried to score from the first but JT Jarrett’s relay throw beat him to plate.
Duke starter Cooper Stinson was strong with six strikeouts in six innings. He didn’t allow a run and only gave the powerful NC State side three hits.
The Wolfpack only started 1-8 in ACC play after a loss to Louisville on March 21, but went 18-6 in league play thereafter.
It was the sixth trip to the ACC Championship game for the Wolfpack under untitled coach Elliott Avent.
The strength of the 25th Advent team lies in the bats. Southpaw Jonny Butler led the ACC during the regular season with a .406 batting average.
But Duke took a break in the sixth inning with lead Austin Murr on third with an out and Butler at home plate.
Butler flew to the center and Murr did not follow. Then Stinson bounced Terrell Tatum in second place to end the threat.
Marcus Johnson gave up a first single in the ninth to Butler, but was able to knock out Tatum, then bounce Luca Tresh and Jose Torres out to right field.
Both teams await their destinations for the NCAA tournament. For the first time in 60 years, Duke entered the NCAA tournament as the ACC champion.
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