Leake Pitches Devils past UC Irvine

ASU coach Pat Murphy didn't have anyone else available in his bullpen if Mike Leake ran into trouble on Sunday afternoon against UC Irvine. He even joked that Leake was going to be in until he hit the 200 pitch mark. Lucky for Murphy and the Sun Devils, even while pitching his third complete game of his career, Leake was efficient in an 11-3 rout of the Anteaters.

"I told him you are finishing this game, no matter what," said ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy, "You may be the first pitcher to throw 200 pitches but you are finishing it."

"One of the things that was important today was that we had used (Tommy) Rafferty three times, we had used (Reyes) Dorado twice, (Stephen) Sauer had pitched, and five games in a weekend are trying for anybody."

Murphy sensed an added energy in the ASU dugout as the Devils were fired up to get revenge on an Anteater team that knocked them out of last year's College World Series.

"The guys were definitely fired up for it; I promise you that," Murphy admitted, "There was a sense of importance in the dugout that you can't fake. The way we lined it up, we gambled and waited on Leake for Irvine. We thought they'd wait on their number one too."

UC Irvine ace Scott Gorgen pitched Friday against Florida International.

Mike Leake didn't see any extra meaning in the game.

"I didn't see it like that, I was just trying to get a win for my team," said Leake. "I was hoping to give the bullpen a rest."

Leake was sensational all evening long shutting down a potent Irvine offense. The Anteaters did what they do best in the first inning against Leake, manufacturing a run. Speedy Irvine leadoff hitter turned a popped up bunt into an infield single and the proceeded to steal second. Linton advanced to third on a groundout by Ben Orloff and came in to score on a groundout by Ryan Fisher. But that was all that Irvine would muster against the Sun Devil ace until it was much too late.

The Devils would take the lead against Anteater pitcher Daniel Bibona in the 3rd inning. Raoul Torrez continued to stay hot by leading off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rocky Laguna. Torrez moved up to third on a groundout by Jason Kipnis and it appeared that Bibona was going to get out of the inning before Ike Davis stepped to the plate. Davis launched a home run over the green monster in centerfield, breaking his bat in the process.

"Ike Davis put the team on his back offensively," said Murphy, "He made everybody breathe easy; he's swinging the bat as good as anybody."

Torrez started the Devils rally again in the fifth, leading off with a walk and advancing to second on a wild pitch. ASU then took a page out of UC Irvine baseball by manufacturing a run. Laguna successfully laid down his second bunt of the game moving Torrez to third and Kipnis lofted a fly ball to center to score Torrez and make it 3-1 ASU.

The Devils plated another run in the sixth, and once again Raoul Torrez was involved. Marcel Champagnie started the rally with a walk after Kiel Roling was picked off first base for the second out of the inning. Jake Elmore followed with a walk that chased Bibona from the game. Reliever Kyle Necke faced just one batter and it was Torrez. Torrez single back up the middle plated Champagnie and put ASU ahead 4-1.

With Leake in control of the game, the Devils blew open the game in the seventh inning. Irvine began to get away from their winning formula, good defense and pitching.

"When we put pressure on the other team, I think good things happen. We have the capability of doing that," said Murphy.

Irvine leftfielder Brock Bardeen dropped a routine fly ball off the bat of Jason Kipnis, starting the Devils' rally and was just a sign of things to come for the Anteaters. Ike Davis quickly followed the error with his fourth hit of the day to score Kipnis.

Brett Wallace would then reach on an error by shortstop Ben Orloff sending Davis to third. Petey Paramore singled to score Davis and after Roling was hit by a pitch, Champagnie chopped a single over the third baseman's head to score two more ASU runs and made the score 8-1.

Roling and Champagnie would add RBI singles in the 8th to cap the scoring for the Devils and put them in front 11-1.

"I think Kiel is getting a bit more confident, he has a ways to go but he is getting more confident," said Murphy, "If you play every day you get more experience and things either start coming for you or you melt down and I think he is taking the road of swinging it good."

Roling finished 3-4 with an RBI on the day and has seemed to bounce back over the weekend, after struggling to start the season.

Leake was back out on the mound for the ninth, trying for his first complete game of the season. The sophomore right-hander gave up a one-out single to pinch hitter Sammy Donabedian and after striking out Mike Pugliese, Anteater designated hitter sent a 0-2 pitch deep over the left field fence for a two run homer. Leake bounced back and struck out Eric Deragisch to end the ball game and to pick up his fifth victory of the season.

Davis finished the day 4-5 with three RBIs. Marcel Champagnie was 3-4 with three RBIs and Paramore and Torrez each finished with two hits, along with Roling.

The Devils now head into Pac-10 play at 22-1, but Murphy still sees areas of improvement, mainly on the base paths and cutting down on strikeouts.

"I don't think we are as ready as we can be," said Murphy, "I think there are so many areas we can be better at. It looks like we are great. You play most of your games at home, we did play a great schedule, there is nobody playing a better non-league schedule, but we haven't been challenged that much as terms of adversity, off the field we have, on the field we'll face some more adversity."

The Devils will return to action on Friday when they host the USC Trojans at Packard Stadium for a three game series. The Trojans already have one Pac-10 series under their belts, taking two of three from another conference contender, the Arizona Wildcats.

"We're the most inexperienced team in the Pac 10, no teams has only four starters returning. There are only two teams that don't have seven returning starters or more coming back. We have the least experienced team coming back and we're favored. That's what is crazy about it," said Murphy.

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