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Season’s End: Duke Baseball Falls To Texas Tech, 6-2

Duke’s season is over but what a run they had.

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Duke baseball season over
Duke’s season is over but what a run it was.
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Every great run in sports has a beginning. For the Duke men’s basketball team, after five national championships and 11 trips to the Final Four under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, many fans forget that after three years Coach K’s record in Durham was 38-47. The following two years Duke made the NCAA tournament, only to lose it’s first game. In football, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe has managed to turn the program around, taking Duke to five bowl games in the last six years. Making a bowl game was considered a first step in the right direction, and even though the Blue Devils lost the first three of those post season games, they continued to persevere, eventually winning their final two football games in the 2016 and 2018 seasons.

Someday the Duke baseball team should look back on its 2018 season as one more step towards what hopefully will be an eventual National Championship. But today, the disappointment could be seen on the faces of a Blue Devils team that ran out of its post season magic, falling 6-2 to Texas Tech in the final game of the Super Regional. The Red Raiders are headed to Omaha for the third time in five years while the Blue Devils will return back to Durham.

One would hope that Duke baseball coach Chris Pollard will someday look back at the run his team made in the post season not with regret from not making it to the College World Series, but rather with pride in a historic season. Two years ago, Pollard took a first step in the right direction, leading Duke to an NCAA regional bid. However, the Blue Devils time in the post season was just two games. The 2018 season will include a litany of historic statistics. For the first time in history, the Blue Devils reached the 40 win mark during the regular season. Then after losing its first game in the regionals and falling behind 8-2 in the second, Duke became the comeback kids of the tournament, not only winning its first regional win against Campbell, but then besting Troy and Georgia (twice) to surprisingly make it to a Super Regional. There, after losing the first game, the Blue Devils again showed their resilience, winning the second game and leading to this afternoon’s decider.

Another sign of success for the Blue Devils is the number of players drafted in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft. Unlike basketball, where the one and done rule has lead to many of Duke’s recent players expected to go in the draft, baseball players that chose the collegiate route must wait til their junior year to be draft eligible. This year, Duke set another record, with seven players on its current roster picked in the 2018 draft, led by juniors Griffin Conine (2nd round to the Blue Jays) and Jimmy Herron (third round to the Cubs). Those two players will seemingly forgo their final year in Durham to go pro, with 13th round picks Chris Proctor and Zach Kone most likely joining Conine and Herron in turning professional. The other drafted Blue Devils (Ethan DeCaster, Jack Labosky and Mitch Stallings) all were ending their time in Durham anyway as either seniors or graduate student transfers.

As in both basketball and football, Duke’s success on the diamond has led to better recruiting. Duke has 12 players coming in for the 2019 season, with all 12 of them ranked within the top 500 players nationally. With success building both on the diamond and on the recruiting trails, Blue Devil fans should plan ahead to catch the baseball team in the post season for years to come.

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