Devils Edge Rebs in 9th Inning Comeback

A sold out crowd at Packard Stadium Saturday night witnessed a clinic on the ins and ups and downs and outs of collegiate playoff baseball. Despite being stifled through the first seven innings by Mississippi right hander William Kline, the Devils showed what head coach Pat Murphy called "toughness – mental toughness" as they came back with three runs in the ninth inning to pull a 4-3 victory.

Things started out rather mundane in front of the sold out Packard crowd, with neither team scoring a run through the first two and a half innings. The Rebels broke through first when Alex Kliman doubled to lead off the bottom of the third against Sun Devil freshman Mike Leake. Two singles later and the Rebels had a 1-0 lead, and then Leake went to work. With runners on first and second Leake got a ground ball hit right back to him and did something he would get used to doing on the night, wheeled and fired to second to start a 1 – 6 – 3 double play.

The third inning twin killing was the first of three started by Leake on the evening, enabling him to walk through the Rebel lineup despite giving up 13 hits, many of which termed "dinkers" by Murphy.

"You can count on one hand how many of those hits were hit hard." Murphy said.

Kline was able to hold the normally potent Sun Devil offense in check up until the sixth inning when a base running blunder by catcher Kiel Roling ended up with benches being cleared, bats being thrown and words being spewed.

Roling lined a ball into the left field corner but before it made it to the wall, the Rebel left fielder was able to cut it off. Sogard, who two batters earlier singled, rounded second and headed to third with Roling making a wide turn at first. The Rebels threw behind Roling to catch him in a run down. Sogard attempted to run home during the rundown and was cut off by Kliman who ran him back to the bag, now occupied by Roling. Then things got interesting.

"I was just waiting for him to tag me and I put the brakes on and we bumped." Sogard said. "I guess we bumped a little harder than he would like – just emotions running high and some words were said then we forgot about it."

After Sogard got tagged, both benches emptied and before order was stored Kliman grabbed the bat out of the hands of Ike Davis, who was next in the order to hit, and threw it at his feet. After the "act of aggression," as Murphy put it, things got heated again and more words were said, Murphy needed to be restrained and both managers were forced to meet with the umpires to quell any further scraps between the two teams.

In the eighth inning, the Devils looked to one of their many offensive leaders to get the ball rolling, and Sogard did just that – blasting a solo home run over the wall in right field to get ASU on the board and going into the ninth inning, the Devils trailed 3-1 to a pitcher that had controlled them all game long.

Ike Davis, Matt Spencer and Tim Smith singled on three straight at bats to start off the ninth inning and after a CJ Retherford RBI fielders choice, Murphy went to his bag of tricks one more time, calling on freshman Jason Jarvis to pinch hit.

"Sometimes you just come up with something – he was in the dugout with his helmet on in the seventh inning telling me he could hit [Kline.]"

Jarvis lined the 0-2 slider to the warning track in right field, scoring a sacrifice fly to plate the game tying run with Pac-10 player of the year Brett Wallace ready to take the Devils to the brink.

"The ninth inning was more about the team, we really picked each other up." Wallace said, and with two outs and the winning run on third base, the sophomore picked up his team with a line drive single into center field to send the sold out crowd into a frenzy as once again the Devils came up with an improbable, late inning victory. Playoff baseball at it's finest. It is a victory that sticks in the minds of the fans and players – but Murphy?

"We are facing a great pitcher tomorrow (soph. Lance Lynn,) and I am already thinking about that."

Sogard, Roling, Retherford and Matt Spencer all recorded two hits and Brian Flores pitched the final two innings in relief of Leake, striking out four of the six batters he faced.

One victory is now all that stands in the way of a trip to Omaha and a chance at the College World Series victory that has so far eluded Murphy. Lynn takes the mound tomorrow for the Rebels as Sun Devil ERA leader Josh Satow is slated to start for ASU as they look to close out Ole Miss.

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