Leake's Complete Game Aids Devils in Win

"Just a little too much Mike Leake." It is phrase muttered all too often from opposing coaches after a loss to Arizona State and for Doug Smith, head coach of UC-Riverside, it rang true one more time as the Highlanders dropped game four of the Tempe Regional to the designated visiting Devils 9-2.

With the scoring limited early in Packard Stadium on both sides, runs were at a premium and when the Highlanders moved a runner across the plate to take an early lead in the second inning, ASU coach Pat Murphy went out to the mound to talk to his right hander Leake.

"He encouraged me to finish the game and just get the next batter out," Leake said. "And just cruise through the rest of the game.

"He said the right thing – after that I was a different person."

Different person indeed. After the second inning pow-wow between Murphy, Leake and catcher Kiel Roling, Leake went on to retire 14 straight hitters including six of his 10 strikeouts in the span.

With the way Leake was able to shut down the Highlander offense – which scored 10 runs just a day earlier – it left the game in the hands of the ASU bats. Unfortunately for the second straight night, the ASU bats had some trouble getting things going in the early stages.

"I think at the start of the game we weren't all too aware of our approach – we went up there as free swingers." Roling said. "As the game went on we started seeing pitches better made [UC-Riverside starting pitcher Matt Montgomery] throw strikes."

The bats began to wake up in the fourth inning when the Devils sent seven men to the plate and took advantage of a throwing error on Highlander third baseman Kyle Barrat to plate two runs and wrestle the lead back from UC-Riverside. Leake kept doing his thing on the mound while the rest of the offense looked to tack on insurance runs.

The insurance came in a big way in the seventh inning when the Devils batted around, sending 10 players to the plate while moving six runs across the plate to all but seal up the Tempe Regional championship game berth for the Devils. A ninth inning run after a Matt Spencer RBI single followed by a shut out inning by Leake sealed the game's fate.

Not lost in all the hoopla in front of a sold out crowd was Eric Sogard. "I think he is going to be playing for a long time." Murphy said of his second baseman. With Leake dealing on the mound the defense became more important and Sogard was a huge piece of it. In each of the first four innings Sogard made a sparkling defensive play.

The Devils will face the winner of the final loser's bracket game between Nebraska and UC-Riverside. If ASU pulls out the win they will move on to the Super Regionals which they also will host. If ASU fails to win the game on Sunday there will be a rematch on Monday between the two teams to decide who will move on to the Super Regional.

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