Paramore Injury Dampens Devils Sweep of USC

Emotions were mixed in the ASU clubhouse today. The Devils (24-1, 3-0 Pac 10) used a four-run first inning and continued strong pitching to complete the three-game weekend sweep of USC (11-14, 2-4 Pac 10). But the talk amongst the 3,387 at Packard Stadium was the status of captain Petey Paramore, who left the game in the 8th inning of a 5-2 victory over the Trojans, with an apparent knee injury.

Paramore caught a 1-0 slider from ASU reliever Reyes Dorado and collapsed to the ground while trying to toss the ball back to Dorado. Paramore had to be carried off of the field and was replaced by Kiel Roling.

"He's going to get it scanned and X-rayed, then we'll see where we're at," said ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy, "It's not like we haven't faced enough adversity."

Murphy said Paramore told him he felt a pop. "Hopefully Petey is going to be OK." said Murphy. "They are worried that he has a broken fibula because it hurts in two spots."

"It's a huge loss. I don't even want to think about it. His leadership behind the plate has been incredible."

If Paramore is out for an extended period of time, Kiel Roling would take over as the full time catcher. Ryan Sontag would see his playing time increase to a full time role either in the outfield or as the DH.

"Being our captain, he leads by example," said Dorado, "We're still going to be strong. We're going to support him as much as he'd support us."

Dorado didn't know exactly what happened after he made the pitch to Paramore.

"I threw him a slider and I guess he tried to throw it back to me and he couldn't. I just saw the ball drop out of his hand."

It was Paramore that put the Devils on the board in the first inning against defending Pac-10 pitcher of the Week Ryan Cook. Jason Kipnis led off the game with a walk and Brett Wallace doubled with one out sending Kipnis to third. Paramore followed with a bloop single to left to score Paramore.

Cook, who in his last start threw a three hit shutout against Arizona, walked Ryan Sontag to load the bases. Matt Newman followed with a single that put the Devils up 3-0. Sontag would score on a RBI ground out by Marcel Champagnie and the Devils led 4-0 after one.

Steven Sauer got the start for the Devils and struggled with his control. Sauer walked five in 3 1/3 innings and allowed two runs. USC's Hector Rabago got the Trojans on the board in the second with a solo home run to left.

"It is the first game I've been really disappointed with the walks," said Murphy, "We'll find a third starter somehow; maybe we'll start Leake again."

Ryan Cook would settle in after the shaky first inning. The Devils scored their final run of the day in the third when Raoul Torrez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The Trojans lead the Pac 10 in hit batsmen and hit two in the game on Sunday.

After allowing the run in the third, Cook settled in and shut down the ASU offense for four innings. Cook ended up going seven innings and allowed five runs, all in the first three innings of his outing.

"We were a little lackluster after the third inning," said Murphy, "If you do that in too many Pac 10 games you aren't going to win. Cook settled down and made us stretch the zone out a bit. He was pitching with nothing to lose; he already had given up five runs."

Sauer ran into some trouble in the fourth inning, walking the leadoff hitter and allowing a single to Mike Roskopf. After a sacrifice bunt by Rabago, Murphy summoned Tommy Rafferty from the bullpen. Rafferty allowed a sacrifice fly to Nick Buss before settling in and pitching 3 1/3 scoreless reliefs to pick up his fifth victory of the season and his second of the weekend.

"I'd rather have our team come out with three wins, it doesn't matter who gets the win," said Rafferty.

Rafferty, who sat out last season because Angelo State University wouldn't release him from his scholarship, has settled into the role of middle relief and has been excellent so far. Rafferty has worked 28 1/3 innings out of the bullpen and has a stellar 1.59 ERA. Rafferty faced a lot of adversity last season with multiple injuries, including a broken ankle and also faced academic adversity. Rafferty said the year off helped him sort out his problems and is now set to graduate this year.

"It was frustrating but I think it helped me as a player and a person. I'm going to graduate this year, I think it made me a better pitcher, too."

Reyes Dorado worked the final 2 1/3 innings and didn't allow a run to pick up his first career save. Dorado and Rafferty are just two of the options that Pat Murphy has out of the bullpen, something that he didn't have last season.

"I think we have a really great pitching staff," said Rafferty, "We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things in different situations. We have a lot of pitchers that can do the job."

"Every time we go out there, we make sure we compete," said Dorado, "Just make sure we throw strikes."

"There is nobody in the bullpen that we doubt, everyone is capable of getting outs and competing every time."

The Sun Devil defense also continued to shine on Sunday, as they tied a school record with five double plays.

"Did we turn five double plays today, or is this a misprint?" quipped Murphy, "I thought it was a misprint."

ASU returns to the field on Tuesday when they welcome in the Wofford Terriers (16-9, 2-3 Southern Conference) at 6:30PM. Until then they must hold their breath and hope for the best for its captain.

"You're talking about your cleanup hitter, I don't even want to think about it," concluded Murphy.

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