Sean McNally’s squad needed to sweep this weekend’s three-game series against cellar-dweller Virginia Tech this weekend to make the ACC tournament for the first time in McNally’s three-year tenure. Instead, the Blue Devils took two of three and finished 1/2 game out of the conference’s top eight.
The full story from this weekend’s action and reactions from McNally and his players will run in Thursday’s The Chronicle, but here are a few things to remember about this season:
- The team won 10 games in the ACC, probably the nation’s best baseball league, for the first time since 2001.
- The team finished with a perfect 27-0 non-conference record for the first time in school history.
- Against the two last place teams in each division, Boston College and Virginia Tech, Duke finished 2-4, and in the penultimate series of the year, the Blue Devils were swept by Wake Forest.
- A controversial tie with Clemson on April 20 could have been avoided if Duke had held its 6-2, ninth-inning lead in the first place.
Our basic analysis: Duke played well enough to make the ACC tournament, of course. This is still a young team that returns all of its weekend starters and every one of its top hitters. With perhaps the best recruiting class in McNally’s career coming in next year, the Blue Devils should be ready to compete for not only a spot in the ACC tournament next year, but perhaps the NCAA tournament, as well. After all, had this year’s team simply won one more game–be it against the two worst teams in the league, Wake Forest, Clemson, or any other team–it would be heading down to Jacksonville right now instead of packing up the locker room.
–by Ben Cohen