LOUISVILLE, Ky. – No. 8 seed Florida State defeated ninth-seeded Duke, 5-1, Saturday afternoon at Louisville Slugger Field to earn a spot in Sunday's ACC Championship game. FSU starting pitcher Cole Sands turned in 6.2 strong innings and third baseman Dylan Busby had three extra base hits and three RBI to lead Florida State (38-20) past Duke (30-28).
A 90-minute rain delay forced Sands (6-3) out of the game, but not before the right-hander recorded career highs in innings (6.2) and strikeouts (8). He allowed two singles and did not issue a walk in the win.
“I don't think we played poorly today,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We ran into a buzzsaw. Cole Sands was as good as anybody we have seen this year. We just couldn't generate enough offense to claw our way back.”
The Seminoles totaled 11 hits in the contest, six for extra bases. Busby led the way with a 3-for-5 outing, adding two doubles and a two-run home run.
“I was really pleased with the way our bullpen stepped up and kept the game within striking distance,” Pollard said. “Really good effort by Lewallyn, Blum and McGrath to hold the ballgame right where it was and give us a chance.”
Busby doubled and Quincy Nieporte tripled to put the Seminoles on the board in the bottom of the first, 2-0. A Taylor Walls double coupled with Busby's 13th home run of the season made it a 4-0 game after three.
A one-out walk to Cal Raleigh ended Duke starter Adam Laskey's (4-5) outing. The freshman allowed four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Lewallyn got Duke off the field without further damage in the third. Busby's two-out RBI double in the fourth made it a 5-0 ballgame.
Florida State did not score the remainder of the afternoon, but Duke was unable to string offense together to cut into the deficit.
“I feel very good about the way our team played and competed over the course of this week,” Pollard added. “I don't know that many people outside of our program expected us to come in and compete and play as tough as we did. I'm proud of that. We weren't that team early in the year, and that's what I'm very proud of, the growth that this team has shown.”
Duke won two games at the ACC Baseball Championship for the first time since 2003 and closed out the season with a 30-28 overall record. The Blue Devils have posted four straight winning seasons under head coach Chris Pollard, winning at least 30 games each of the past four campaigns.