Early on, the patient bats followed by the power bats of the Sun Devil offense went to work in full force. Kiel Roling and Ike Davis walked in the second inning – with a Petey Paramore fly out in between – to set up Matt Spencer with a chance to put ASU (49-13) ahead early. Spencer, the Omaha veteran - having gone with North Carolina last season – worked the count to 2 – 0 and on the next Matt Gorgen pitch, blasted a home run halfway up the bleachers in right field to give the Devils an early three-run lead over the Anteaters (45-16-1).
"It relieved some of the pressure – getting into an early lead kind of takes the pressure off the pitcher so it was really good." Spencer said. "Our team can score runs."
Leake ran into trouble of his own in the fourth inning when the freshman's control eluded him. After going to full counts on the first three hitters of the inning – striking out the first then hitting Cody Cipriano and giving up a single to Matt Morris – Leake was hit hard by the fifth place hitter Bryan Petersen and then designated hitter Sean Madigan who notched successive extra base hits to pull the Anteaters even with the Devils at three.
The Irvine offense was not finished in the inning as center fielder Ollie Linton singled through the infield to plate Madigan, sending the "Anteater Nation" into cheers and their team into the lead, 4-3.
"The mentality was not there [in the inning.]" Leake said. "They were trying to get me to throw inside pitches."
"I was trying to keep us in the game and throw one pitch at a time."
The lead was short-lived as post-season hero CJ Retherford knocked the first pitch he saw in the Devil fifth inning into the bleachers in left centerfield for a game-tying home run – his fourth of the season, all coming in the post season.
"I'm saying we saved him as a secret weapon." Murphy said of his third baseman. "We call them the shock troops."
"I'm just seeing the ball really well and I'm hitting my pitch." Retherford added.
With the game once again gridlocked – both pitchers settled into grooves, with Leake retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced from the fifth inning through the seventh with Gorgen matching the dominance, striking out six Devils without allowing a run in the three-inning stretch. Leake was relieved by Jason Jarvis after throwing 104 pitches; Jarvis proceeded to strike out two of the first men he faced to set the stage for the eighth inning.
Leading off the inning, Ike Davis worked the count to 1 – 1 before following the lead of Spencer and blasting the third pitch of the at bat into the right field bleachers to give ASU the lead, 5-4. The home run signaled the end of the day for Gorgen who finished with nine strikeouts on the day.
"I threw probably one of the best changeups I have thrown all day and he was sitting on it – I have no doubt in my mind he knew that pitch was coming." Gorgen said of the Davis home run.
"No – I was sitting fastball and he left me a changeup over the middle. I was looking fastball all the way." Davis said with a smile.
Jarvis finished out Irvine in the ninth despite walking Linton who then stole second base. With the tying run aboard Jarvis got pinch-hitter Jeff Cusick to groundout to shortstop Andrew Romine who threw across to Wallace to finish out the game one victory.
Eric Sogard led the team in hits with three, all singles, with Davis and Spencer joining with two hits – including a home run each. Tim Smith and Retherford totaled one hit each in the win.
With the victory, Arizona State moves up in to the winner's bracket where they will meet the Beavers of Oregon State who edged Cal State Fullerton 3-2. That game will take place Monday night at 6 p.m CT.
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