Devils Feel Vindicated Following Super Regional

There were plenty of smiles to go around as the Sun Devils as their fans greeted their baseball team who returned to Tempe following their super regional win. But more than anything, there was also a strong sense of pride among the maroon and gold. After all, this was a squad which was vilified continuously throughout the season, and is now laughing all the way to the World Series.

"I feel absolute vindication!" exclaimed catcher Tuffy Gosewisch. "After the last two years ending in Fullerton, last year U of A goes to the World Series and I thought we had a better team…I feel really gratified."

It has been a season of sharp peaks and valleys. However, one may argue that ASU has peaked at the right time, winning eight out of their last nine. Does the senior share that notion? "I think you get on a run and that helps," he said. "But I don't know if we peaked yet. I think we have better games in us. We just stayed after it this weekend and played well." Gosewisch may have played his best game as a Sun Devil yesterday, as he went 5-5 with 3 RBI's. "The last couple of weekends I felt real confident at the plate and behind the dish," he commented. "I try to go out there and set a good example. I just try to be a good teammate and leave it out there all on the field."

Like many players across the nation, Gosewisch may have benefited if the MLB draft was to be held following the Super Regionals. Last week, the Sun Devil catcher was picked in the 11th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, but he doesn't play the proverbial ‘what if?' game and wonder if he would get drafted higher. "It's possible but I don't try to think about that too much," he said. "If we win the college world series I wouldn't care." When asked if he felt the Phillies got a steal choosing him in the later rounds, he quipped: "Exactly."

The maroon and gold showed up with shirts and ties to their first workout in Fullerton, to convey a business like trip attitude. In light of that, was their post-game celebration on Sunday controlled as well? "The celebration was actually mayhem," Gosewisch said laughing. "It was not business like. We were running all over the field going nuts. I tried to picture that we were gonna celebrate just shaking hands (with Fullerton) because we expected to win. But with the way we won, I think it was hard to do that."

Pitcher Erik Averill, who notched his 10th win when ASU evened the series on Saturday, was maybe in the minority with his celebrating ways. "After the celebration we got back to the hotel, and I just sat there and said 'Wow.' The season is still going and we're excited. Everything is surreal right now, but we still have one more goal to accomplish."

The left handed hurler agreed with the general sense of absolution and added that the squad's inner support aided greatly in its accomplishments. "We believed in each other all year," he said. "I know people doubted us with our record. In between the walls we know what goes on and a lot of people don't get to see that. Sure, we maybe surprised a lot of people but we didn't surprise ourselves."

Surprise or not, it was hard to expect Jason Urquidez to be masterful on the mound in the first and third game, with only one day rest. On Friday he threw 109 pitches, and gave up only two hits and one run. On Sunday, he pitched 45 times in 3.2 shut out innings, and got his 10th win as well to tie Averill.

"Coach told me on Friday that I might have to come back on Sunday, so I expected that," he remarked. "I was ready to go when he said ‘go down to the bullpen.' The adrenalin kicked in, and I felt good. When I started warming up I felt great. There was never a time I didn't feel strong enough. With the team behind me…I have so much trust (in them). This isn't just a team, this is a family."

With a taxing schedule this past weekend, the senior assures that he has much left in the tank. "Are you kidding me? This is what I came back for," he said. "This is what I worked so hard for the last ten years – to get to Omaha. We got our chance and we'll make the best effort out of it."

Playing the grueling schedule they did, and winning 2 out of 3 on a field that very few visiting teams come away victorious, suffice to say that ASU has experienced some hostile and high charged environments. Sure enough, Friday's World Series opener will pit the Sun Devils against Nebraska, who's guaranteed to bring thousands of supporters from all over the state. Does Urquidez look forward to another boisterous atmosphere that will probably be anti-ASU? "Are you kidding me? That will be an amazing atmosphere," he said. "I'm kinda expecting it to be a little better than Fullerton. It's their (Nebraska) home stadium and the biggest college setting."

Granted, it has been a bumpy ride for the 2005 Sun Devils, but Urquidez does see the value of everything that transpired the last six months. "The ups and downs are what got us here right now," he said. "We had to roll with the punches"

And if a team picks itself up enough times off the canvas, it's bound to win any fight…

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