Big Eighth Inning Propels Devils Past UMass

There must something special about the 8th inning for the 2008 Arizona State Sun Devils. Over their past four games, ASU has now scored 23 runs in that frame. On Saturday night ASU scored nine runs in that magical inning to break open a tie game and improve to 11-0 with a 13-4 win over Massachusetts in front of 2,779 at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.

The casual fan will wake up tomorrow morning and think that the Devils (11-0) cruised past the Minutemen (0-2) with an easy nine run victory. That couldn't have been further from what actually occurred on Saturday.

Upset-minded UMass jumped on ASU starter Seth Blair early, chasing the freshman after just 2/3 of an inning. Blair started the game by walking Andrew Black and hitting Kyle Multner. Adam Tempesta grounded out advancing the runners to second and third and Jim MacDonald followed with a 2RBI single to put UMass up 2-0. Mike Donato would follow with a RBI single of his own, chasing Blair and putting the Minutemen up 3-0.

Stephen Sauer relieved Blair and shut down the Minutemen offense. The transfer from Western Nevada worked seven innings, struck out 11 and allowed just one run.

ASU's offense began to chip away at the UMass lead in the fourth when Ike Davis connected for his first home run of the season to make it 3-1. The Devils would tie the game in the fifth. Matt Newman walked and stole second base with one out.

Matt Murphy, who got his first start of the season at shortstop, followed with a bunt single that MacDonald threw away allowing Newman to score. Jason Kipnis would tie the game at three with the first of his three RBIs of the night, on a single up the middle.

The Devils faced a second and third situation with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Rocky Laguna struck out and ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy decided to pinch it for Raoul Torrez with the struggle Jake Elmore. Elmore responded with an infield single that put ASU up 4-3.

ASU had the bases loaded in the seventh, but pinch hitter Ryan Sontag struck out to end the inning. However, the 4-3 lead looked safe with Sauer mowing down Minutemen hitters.

Sauer retired the first two UMass batters in the 8th before Tempesta and MacDonald singled. Murphy then gave the ball to closer Jason Jarvis who gave up a game-tying base hit to Donato. Ike Davis would relieve Jarvis after just one batter and retired Mike Gedmen to retire the side.

With the possibility of a major upset on hand, the Arizona State Sun Devils proved why they are the top-ranked team in the nation, scoring nine times in the bottom of the eighth. After getting his team out of a jam in the previous half inning, Davis led off the eighth with a single. Rocky Laguna would follow with a base hit, sending Davis to third base.

A balk was called on UMass pitcher Mike Dicato, plating Davis and giving ASU the 5-4 advantage. Marcel Champagnie followed the balk with an RBI single into left center plating Laguna. Murphy would try and bunt again and again UMass threw the ball away, this time it was the pitcher Dicato, and the error allowed Champagnie to score. Jason Kipnis would then break the game open with a triple off of the left field wall, scoring Newman and Murphy to make it 9-4.

Petey Paramore walked and then Brett Wallace would also find the wall, this time the right field fence, scoring Kipnis and Paramore to make it 11-4 ASU. Ike Davis would cap off the inning with a two-run home run, his second of the day. Davis also picked up the victory, as he was the pitcher of record when the outburst occurred. After it was all said and done, the Devils scored nine runs on six hits.

Jason Jarvis would come back in to pitch the ninth and sat the Minutemen down in order to shut the door on what was an unbelievable ending for the Sun Devils.

The third and final game of the series is set for 1PM tomorrow at Packard Stadium.

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