Duke's decisive game of pool play did not go according to plan, and now the Blue Devils will be left to wonder whether it was the last game they will play in Durham this spring.

No. 5 seed Louisville jumped in front with a four-run first inning and cruised to a 9-2 victory Friday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to eliminate Duke from the ACC tournament and advance to the semifinals. With the Blue Devils battling for the right to host a regional in the NCAA tournament next weekend on campus at Jack Coombs Field, they did not make the most of the last chance to solidify their resume and remove any doubt.

"I'm big on routine, and we'll get right back in our routine and prepare knowing that wherever we are, whether we're home or whether we're on the road, we're going to see a good opponent, and we'd better be at our best," Duke head coach Chris Pollard said. "We'll go out and play somebody in a parking lot. We don't care where it is. We don't care if we have to go on the road. We've been very good on the road this year."

The trouble started right away for Blue Devil starter Mitch Stallings, who allowed a single and walked two men to load the bases with one out in the top of the first. That set the table for Louisville slugger Josh Stowers to line a two-run single into left field, and Stallings hit a batter to load the bases again before Zach Britton drove in two more runs with a two-out, two-strike single. By the time Stallings struck out Justin Lavey to wrap up a 38-pitch inning, the Cardinals (42-16) had a 4-0 lead before Duke even had a chance to hit.

"When they're going good offensively like they are, one thing you have to be good at is limiting free offense, and we didn't do a great job of that early in the game," Pollard said. "A couple of breaking pitches backed up on him, so we gave them some free offense. And again, I think that ballgame may play itself completely different if we execute the two-strike pitch with two outs to get off the field. That was a huge moment in the ballgame."

The Blue Devils' lone glimmer of hope came in the bottom of the third when Zack Kone hit an RBI single up the middle to put Duke (40-15) on the board and bring its best power threat, Griffin Conine, to the plate with two runners on base and two outs. But Conine hooked a potential game-tying home run to right field a few feet foul and struck out to end the inning, and Louisville quickly put the game away in the fourth.

Another hit batter and two singles loaded the bases for Devin Mann, who smacked a three-run double into the left-center field gap to double the Cardinals' lead and chase Stallings from the game. Mann scored on a sacrifice fly to wrap up Louisville's second four-run inning of the day.

After the Cardinals tacked on another run in the fifth inning, Duke scored the game's final run in the bottom half of the frame when Jimmy Herron drove a double into the gap and took third base on an error. The junior scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Proctor.

Herron's double was Duke's only extra-base hit of the contest—the Blue Devils added seven singles, as freshman Joey Loperfido went 3-for-4 to lead the way. Ten of Duke's 11 hits in Thursday's 13-inning win against Wake Forest were also singles.

"We faced two really good arms, two really good starters over the last two days. Those are two all-conference guys from both sides, and when you're able to throw a couple pitches for strikes, mixing in a good fastball both sides of the plate, you're able to kind of get guys off balance," senior captain Max Miller said. "They did a good job of keeping us off balance in terms of just not being able to sit on pitches in certain counts just because you are throwing everything in different counts. That's something that we've got to work on going forward."

Now, the Blue Devils will have to wait and see whether their name is called when the 16 regional hosts for the NCAA tournament are revealed Sunday night. If Duke is snubbed from the top 16, it will find out where it is headed during Monday's full selection show. Prior to Friday's loss, the Blue Devils' RPI ranking was No. 20.

"We beat Carolina in a series, beat Florida State in a series, won 19 games in the ACC, RPI has been up there all year. We didn't get swept one time. That's a big deal. A couple other teams that are going to be hosting have gotten swept," Miller said. "It would be a great setup if we could get one to the Coombs, and I know it would be an awesome experience for everyone that's been working really hard to get it ready if it happens, but if not, we're going to be good either way."