At this point, it’s playing with house money for head coach Chris Pollard and his Blue Devil squad.

Following an improbable run in the Athens Regional, Duke will travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on No. 9 overall seed Texas Tech at Rip Griffin Park for a chance to earn a spot in the College World Series. The two teams will battle Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., and a potential third game to decide the best-of-three series would take place Monday afternoon at 4.

It appeared that the Blue Devils’ stellar 2018 campaign, which featured only its second NCAA tournament appearance since 1961, was all but over on June 2. After dropping its opening game to Troy 6-0, Duke trailed Campbell 8-1 following the sixth inning of an elimination game. Miraculously, 15 Blue Devils crossed the plate in the next three innings to secure a 16-8 victory. Duke overcame a deficit in each of its next three games to advance to its first-ever NCAA super regional.

Throughout the season, Pollard has emphasized a blue-collar mindset in his players. Perhaps this attitude of resiliency propelled the Blue Devils to their improbable comebacks. To represent this approach, a construction hard hat has started to appear in the Duke dugout.

“That goes for our whole blue-collar-type mentality. I think [Bryce] Jarvis had that custom-made, and it’s kind of the home-run thing. You’ve got to earn it,” junior Griffin Conine said. “When you hit one out, he comes running in and you get to wear it for 30, 45 seconds, enjoy it, and that’s kind of just our way of saying we’re blue collar, gritty, tough, and it’s fun. It’s a little motivation to put one out.”

Conine, the Blue Devils’ offensive leader, donned the hard hat three times following long balls during Duke's doubleheader upset against Georgia last Monday. The team's bats are scorching right now, as they have produced 47 runs in the last four games. In addition to established stars such as Conine contributing at the plate, true freshman Chris Crabtree shone last weekend. Crabtree, who entered regionals with just 14 career at bats, earned Most Outstanding Player honors following his heroic 10-for-14 performance.

“Most of them have been the best player on every team they’ve played on all their lives to this point, and almost invariably, they haven’t had to sit, so it’s the first time they’ve really had to ride the bench, and a lot of guys can’t handle that mentally,” Pollard said. “Kudos to Chris for taking advantage of it and playing great.”

The Blue Devils (44-16) may need another miracle to topple Texas Tech this weekend. The Red Raiders have had consistent postseason success, hosting a Super Regional for the third time in the last five years.

Unlike Duke, Texas Tech barely had to break a sweat to advance in Regionals. The team breezed past New Mexico State 9-2 and toppled Louisville twice by margins of 10-4 and 11-6. 

The Red Raiders (42-17) are powered by one of the most potent offenses in the country. Their .508 team slugging percentage and .423 team on-base percentage are both second-best nationally, and they have pushed across the seventh-most runs.

Four Texas Tech batters have an OPS of better than 1.000, a mark held by only one Blue Devil, Conine. The Lubbock Regional Most Outstanding Player, Zach Reams, leads the bunch with a 1.218 OPS that ranks the sixth-highest among all Division I hitters. Josh Jung, Grant Little and Cameron Warren round out the impressive quartet.

Although he lacks the mind-boggling power numbers of his lineup mates, Gabe Holt has stolen 28 bases without being caught, tallying the most stolen bases with a perfect caught stealing rate in the country. 

Caleb Kilian and Ryan Shetter head the Red Raiders’ pitching staff. Kilian owns a 9-1 record and 2.39 ERA, while Shetter has a 5-0 record and 2.97 ERA. The duo shone in the regional, and were both named to the All-Regional team.

Texas Tech will be no easy out for Duke. But this blue-collar batch has had the odds stacked against them numerous times before. If the Blue Devils’ bullpen continues to dominate and the offense keeps producing, a Cinderella run to the College World Series may be in the cards.

"I have a whole lot of confidence in the resiliency and the toughness of this club, and the guys that are providing leadership at the top," Pollard said. "They’re starting to really feel like they’re kind of a team of destiny, and heck, who’s to say they aren’t?"

Hank Tucker contributed reporting.