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Duke catcher Michael Rothenberg probably imagined his senior season playing out differently.

After hitting .269 and making the ACC all-tournament team as a sophomore, he was batting .349 and leading the Blue Devils in several offensive categories when COVID-19 shut down the 2020 season after 16 games.

But Rothenberg brought a .243 batting average into Duke’s first-round ACC game Wednesday against Florida State.

“Mike has been a tough-luck guy this season,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said.

The luck changed Wednesday.

Rothenberg smacked a 410-foot grand slam in the first inning and added a triple in his next at-bat, as ninth-seeded Duke hammered fifth-seeded Florida State 12-1.

It was the 24th grand slam in ACC tournament history. The last of those came in 2019 — by Rothenberg, against Notre Dame.

Pollard said looking at Rothenberg’s batting average is a waste of time.

“He has swung better than his numbers,” Pollard said. “He leads our team in doubles.

“I can rattle off about five doubles this season that were taken away from him by ‘SportsCenter’ plays,” he added.

Rothenberg is on several lists of the nation’s top collegiate catchers and could go in the first five or six rounds of the Major League Baseball draft in July.

Rothenberg — like his team — is on a roll. Duke has won nine games in a row. During that time, the Blue Devils’ starting catcher has gone 11 for 34 (.324 average), with three doubles, two triples and two home runs.

“We’ve been a totally different team,” Rothenberg said of the nine-game winning streak. “I’m not sure that there’s anyone in the country who’s been better than us during that time.

“We keep finding a different guy who comes through.”

Rothenberg, from Boca Raton, Florida, said everything came together for him Wednesday.

“I was seeing the ball well,” he said.

When asked about the two career grand slams in the ACC tournament, Rothenberg smiled.

“Postseason is a different animal,” he said. “This ballpark rivals anything in the country. It’s great to get out there and play. And there’s something special about postseason.”

Pollard said Wednesday’s performance by Rothenberg is not a big change from the regular season.

“He’s been hitting it well,” Pollard said. “He’s just had some tough luck.”

Rothenberg was asked what he ate for breakfast Wednesday.

“A bacon, egg and cheese sandwich,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have that again tomorrow morning.”

The big plays

Duke ended the suspense early, scoring five times in the first inning. The big hit was Rothenberg’s grand slam, as the Blue Devils (29-20) chased Seminole starter Bryce Hubbart.

Rothenberg got Duke’s sixth run in the third inning, slamming a triple and scoring on Graham Pauley’s single. Erickson Nichols added a two-run homer, and Ethan Murray had a solo shot in the ninth.

Duke starter Billy Seidl worked into the fourth inning, and three relievers finished. In all, the Blue Devils recorded 14 strikeouts.

Florida State (29-22) got its run on a Robby Martin home run.