Devils Rally After Ejection to Beat USC

In the world of college baseball it is very rare to see a player get ejected. In fact, nobody at Packard Stadium on Saturday evening could recall the last time an ASU player had been tossed. The ejection of the defending Pac 10 Player of the Year Brett Wallace fired the Devils up just enough to plate seven runs in the following inning to pull away from the USC Trojans and coast to a 13-5 win.

"The ump thought he heard something that was personal to him. We all know that, that is not Wally's nature," said ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy, "Big lesson, you shouldn't say anything. When you react to a call, safe or out, you shouldn't say anything."

"I was in shock. Wally is a very quiet kid, not very outspoken. Out of all the kids on our team I think he'd be the last person I'd expect to get thrown out," said ASU's Kiel Roling, "For him to get thrown out in the first inning over something like that, we knew we had to rally around it."

"He probably didn't say too much, but whatever he said the umpire didn't like."

The Trojans got on the board first as they plated a run in the opening inning against ASU starter Mike Leake. Leake would quickly record the first two outs of the inning before allowing USC's Roberto Lopez to stroke a two-out double. Derek Perren followed with an RBI single and the Trojans jumped ahead 1-0.

USC wouldn't hold the lead for long as the Devils tied it up in the bottom half of the first. Ike Davis started things off by extending his hitting streak to 21 games with a single. Davis would eventually come around to score on a two out RBI single by Kiel Roling.

Then things got interesting.

Roling took off from first on a double steal designed to allow Brett Wallace to score from third. Umpire Ken Eldridge ruled Wallace out at the plate after a throw from second baseman Hector Rabago appeared to be late. In what appeared to be literally moments later, Eldridge gave Wallace the heave ho and suddenly the Devils were in a crucial Pac 10 game without their best player.

How did the Devils respond? Let's just say that USC probably wishes that Wallace never would have been ejected.

Mike Leake quickly breezed through the Trojans in the top half of the second by striking out the side.

"It kind of brought us together. Leake is always great on the mound. We have a lot of confidence he's not going to give up runs and knowing we're going to put up enough runs to get him a win. It was kind of a character builder for our team," said Roling.

"I don't know if you allow it to get to you that way," said Murphy as to if the ejection sparked his team, "I think they just realized that playing without Wallace isn't easy. This guy has put this team on his back a lot."

Then a fired up ASU team came to the plate and put the game away before the Trojans had a chance to blink. Marcel Champagnie was hit by a pitch from USC starter Kevin Couture and would come around to score when Matt Newman connected for his first career home run putting the Devils in front 3-1. Raoul Torrez followed with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Rocky Laguna. Jason Kipnis then laid a down a perfect bunt and beat the throw for a base hit.

Ike Davis then singled home Laguna and Mike Murphy, who replaced Wallace, laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Kipnis. After a Petey Paramore single, Kiel Roling roped a double to center that scored Davis, but Paramore was gunned out at the plate on a perfect relay by the Trojans. Champagnie would follow with an infield single that scored Roling and capped the gigantic inning in which the Devils scored seven runs on eight hits.

Roling has seemed to snap out of his early season struggles, a 3-4 day tonight brought his average over the .300 mark for the first time. Roling is hitting .570 in his past seven games.

"It is just finally hitting the bat, "said Roling, "The first three weeks I was just trying to do too much. Just trying to force results, I told myself it can't get any worse and to just go out there and have fun. Good things will come after that."

"I'm just glad to be a part of it again, to be back in there helping everybody out instead of being a focus of not hitting."

Murphy thinks it's just a case of settling down and relaxing.

"I think he's more comfortable and relaxed. He's a big strong kid; it's only a matter of time. He's still not swinging the bat the way he is capable of."

Champagnie and Laguna would add their second RBIs of the day in the fourth to build ASU's lead to 11-2.

USC would tag Leake with two runs in the sixth inning as Perren and Roskopf belted back to back solo home runs. Jason Kipnis would make it 12-4 with an RBI single in the sixth and ASU tacked on a run in the seventh when Paramore scored on a wild pitch.

Leake went seven innings to pick up his NCAA leading sixth win of the season. Leake allowed 10 hits but limited to the Trojans to just five runs despite the double digit hits, mainly because he didn't walk a batter for his third straight outing. In just less than a season and a half in the maroon and gold, Leake has already won 19 games. Tommy Rafferty and Dustin Brader each worked scoreless innings to close out the Trojans.

"Mike Leake is great. He didn't throw great tonight, but don't underestimate the way USC can hit," said Murphy, "If they find their stride here, they could be a team to be reckoned with."

The Devils will try to sweep the Trojans tomorrow afternoon at Packard Stadium. Stephen Sauer will take the ball in hopes to sweep past the Trojans, something the Devils couldn't do last season in Los Angeles. Kiel Roling thinks that a sweep is necessary to start Pac 10 play.

"We want to come out and sweep them tomorrow. We don't want to take just two out of three like we did last year. We want to come out and sweep people and not leave a doubt."

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