Duke beats NC State 1-0 for first ACC title since 1961

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2021

CHARLOTTE (AP) — Cooper Stinson gave up three hits with no walks in six scoreless innings and Duke beat North Carolina State 1-0 in the ACC Tournament championship game on Sunday.

The ninth-seeded Blue Devils (32-20), who won their 12th straight game, were in the ACC championship game for the first time in program history. Duke won its last ACC title in 1961 before the conference tournament was established in 1973.

Stinson (3-3), who struck out six, came into the game with an 8.87 ERA over his last six starts.

“I think it was the best start of his career,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said. “And you know, he had a really rough start in his last start at Clemson, last regular season start, and it just shows his maturity and toughness. … His preparation is as good as anybody’s and that’s allowed him to not sort of succumb to falling into the trap of losing confidence.”

Marcus Johnson got his seventh save of the season for the Blue Devils.

Duke scored in the fourth inning when Ethan Murray got a lead-off double and advanced to third and home on a pair of fly outs, scoring on Peter Matt’s sacrifice.

Joey Loperfido was named tournament MVP, going 7-for-18 with three doubles and a home run in four games for the Blue Devils.

“I’m so elated for these guys,” Pollard said. “Honestly I feel numb. It was an incredible ballgame. What a great championship atmosphere, a tremendous crowd.”

Starter Matt Willadsen struck out six in 4 2/3 innings for N.C. State (30-17). Chris Villaman gave up no hits and one walk in 4 1/3 innings of relief.

The Wolfpack’s Austin Murr advanced to third with one out after a pair of Duke errors in the sixth inning and had an opportunity to score on a deep pop fly, but he left the base before the ball was caught and retreated to third, only to be stranded at the end of the inning.

“He just he may have misread the fly ball and wanted to get a better jump than he probably needed to get and he left early,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. “He’s a smart player. He realized he left early. Went back to re-tag and knew he shouldn’t chance it and he did the right thing there.

N.C. State was shut out for the first time since an 11-0 loss to Florida State on May 24, 2019, in the ACC Tournament.