Livescore Thursday, April 25

MJ Metz has been one of Duke’s top sluggers in 2023. The pitching in the Conway Regional — and a significant injury — have done little to change that.

Metz launched his fourth home run of the NCAA baseball tournament on Monday in a winner-take-all matchup against No. 11 Coastal Carolina. Most impressively for Metz? He’s done all of this on a torn ACL.

The heroics by Metz immediately harken back to Ole Miss’ Tim Elko, who played for the Rebels on a torn ACL. Elko tore his ACL on April 5, 2021, but returned to play a pivotal role for the team as a DH on May 1 of the same year. He wound up hitting three home runs during the 2021 NCAA Baseball Tournament, helping lead Ole Miss to the super regionals.

His latest home run comes in a pivotal clash for Duke as the Blue Devils search for their first super regional appearance since 2019. Duke started the Conway Regional with wins against UNC Wilmington and Rider before falling 8-6 to host Coastal Carolina, bringing up the final game of the regional to decide the winner.

MORE: NCAA baseball tournament 2023 bracket, TV schedule

Who is Metz, and how has he pulled this off? Here’s what you need to know.

Who is MJ Metz?

Metz is a fifth-year graduate transfer who is serving as Duke’s designated hitter during the 2023 NCAA baseball tournament. He is playing despite suffering a torn ACL late in the season.

MJ Metz injury update

Back on May 23, Duke’s first game of the ACC baseball tournament, Metz played the role of a hero. In the ninth inning, he launched a two-run home run to tie the game against NC State at seven. Two innings later, however, NC State would win the game 8-7.

During that game, Metz injured his knee in what was later reported to be a torn ACL. Metz sat for the game against Miami on May 26, when Duke lost 7-6 to be eliminated from the conference tournament. 

Metz took batting practice on June 1 and appeared to perform well, but coach Chris Pollard was reportedly still unsure whether Metz would be in condition to play, according to the News & Observer. Metz wound up being the one to make the call.

“I thought that I could help the team and that’s all I was trying to do,” Metz said, per the News & Observer. “So I told him that I wanted to get a shot. And then I’d let him know if anything changed and just grateful the way it all turned out.”

It’s safe to say, Pollard is likely happy he allowed Metz to play. Suited up with a brace on his knee, Metz pulled off the impossible. Against UNCW, he hit a game-tying solo home run in the fourth inning, launched a two-run shot in the fifth to extend Duke’s lead to three runs and piled on with a third blast in the seventh with another two-run homer.

Metz was held in check for the win against Rider (0-for-4 with two strikeouts), but added two more hits to his line with a 2-for-4 performance in the loss to Coastal Carolina.

MORE: Which teams have reached super regionals?

Then, in his first at-bat for the second game against Coastal Carolina, Metz got back to his slugging ways with a go-ahead solo home run to put Duke up 1-0, his fourth home run since tearing his ACL.

“It’s unbelievable,” Pollard said, per the News & Observer. “It kind of defies logic a little bit. But he’s an exceptionally tough person.”

MJ Metz college career

Metz is in his first season with the Blue Devils after arriving as a graduate transfer from Trinity. Metz played in only 50 games over his first three seasons with the Tigers, but became a regular in 2022. 

The 6-5 corner infielder took advantage of the opportunity to start. He posted an eye-popping .382/.478/.710 slash line with 12 home runs and 26 doubles. He also swiped 23 bases.

Metz arrived in Durham as a graduate transfer after four seasons with Trinity, and became a starter right away, beginning his Duke career with a three-hit performance against Saint Joseph’s, adding a home run and double to his line for good measure.

MJ Metz stats

Here’s a look at Metz’s stats with the Blue Devils before the 2023 NCAA Baseball Tournament.

54-48 181 16 47 45 37 66 2 .282/.408/.586

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