The Duke baseball team put up a fight this week at the ACC Baseball Tournament.
The Blue Devils had to win the tournament in order to advance into the NCAA tournament next week, and the Blue Devils knocked off two higher-seeded teams in making it to the semifinals at Louisville Slugger Field.
But that’s where the dream ended.
Florida State – one of the hottest teams in the country – had four pitchers combine for a five-hitter and only allowed two hits over the first eight innings in a 5-1 decision that ends the season for Duke.
“I’m disappointed,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said. “But we ran into a buzz saw.”
While the Seminoles won for the 11th time in 13 games and moved into the ACC title game for a third consecutive season, Duke saw its season come to an end at 30-28.
The Blue Devils won nine of their final 13 games in what Pollard called “an impressive run” that he believes will carry over into the offseason.
“We still have a very young team, and we have a lot of really fun pieces returning,” Pollard said. “While I am disappointed for our seniors, I am very excited for underclassmen. I hope we can carry this momentum into the summer and let it be motivation that we came up short here.
“I don’t know that many people outside of our dugout and team expected us come in and play as tough as we did.”
The Blue Devils knocked off No. 4 seed Virginia and No. 5 seed Clemson and made it into the semifinals of the event.
“I was really happy with how we played,” Duke second baseman Max Miller said. “There was no quit out there.”
The Blue Devils got off to a tough start, allowing two runs in the first and third innings. Adam Laskey (4-5) was chased after 2 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and four runs with a walk and three strikeouts.
The Seminoles added another run in the fourth to make it 5-0, while FSU starter Cole Sands allowed just two hits over 6 2/3 innings.
“I didn’t think we played poorly today,” Pollard said. “Cole Sands was as good as anybody we have seen this year. Our bullpen kept the game within striking distance. We couldn’t generate enough offense to try and claw our way back into it.”
Sands (6-3) only left the game because of a 90-minute rain delay. But it wasn’t until the ninth inning that Duke had anything going.
The Blue Devils got an RBI single from Jack Labosky and had runners on the corner with one out, but Jim Voyles came into to get the final two outs.
“Everyone thought we had a chance to do that in the last inning,” Miller said. “It’s disappointing to see. But we didn’t do that early in the year when we were down late in games, so that shows just how much we have grown. It’s been fun to watch.”
Pollard said he was “proud of the effort,” and believes it took a team that could make a run for a national title eliminated his team.
“As well as Florida State is playing right now, look back the past five or six games and what they did to Louisville,” he said. “They are playing as well as anybody in the country. They absolutely have the pieces to the puzzle to get to Omaha.”