Torn ACL? No problem. Duke slugger crushes 3 HRs anyway

June 2nd, 2023

A torn ACL typically means the end of the season for most baseball players. For Duke's MJ Metz, maybe it was only the beginning.

After tearing his ACL during last week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Metz came out swinging for the Blue Devils in Friday's NCAA Regional opener. The graduate student from San Diego slugged not one, not two but THREE home runs to power Duke to a 12-3 win over UNC Wilmington in Conway, South Carolina.

First, Metz sent a solo shot out to center to tie things up 2-2 in the fourth inning. He found nearly the same spot for a two-run blast in the fifth to extend Duke's lead to 6-3. And in the seventh, Metz left no doubt on a two-run bomb to left field to make it a 9-3 game.

Just 10 days after suffering his knee injury against NC State in the conference tournament, Metz had himself a legendary game to help Duke win its NCAA tournament opener. On Saturday, the Blue Devils will face the winner of Rider and host Coastal Carolina.

For his efforts, Metz received an honor from his teammates during his postgame interview on ESPN+. Duke teammates stacked their blue caps -- then their batting helmets -- on top of Metz's head (not an easy feat when dealing with a 6-foot-6 slugger).

Metz isn't the only college hitter to produce on a torn ACL. In 2021, for instance, Ole Miss first baseman Tim Elko -- playing through the same injury -- crushed a pair of grand slams to help the Rebels win the Oxford Regional.

But three home runs in one game on just one functioning ACL? Metz's feat will be hard to beat.