Devils Season Ends in Disappointment

A season that began with such promise, brought a #1 overall ranking by midseason, ended in equal disappointment. Never had expectations been so high to bring a National Championship back to Tempe than they were this year, but that goal will not be fulfilled as ASU's season ended tonight in a shocking 12-9 upset loss to Fresno State.

"I'm deeply disappointed, I felt we should be going to Omaha," said ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy, "I feel like it was an upset. I don't want to take anything away from Fresno. We got knocked on our ass and couldn't really respond like we normally had. There was too much at stake."

Mike Leake had played the role of hero for Pat Murphy and the Sun Devils time and time again, but Monday he finally met his match. The Bulldogs got to the tired ASU ace for six runs in the seventh to take control. Leake was called upon in desperation, even though he had thrown 118 pitches just two days earlier.

"We ran out of pitching. I'm proud of what Mike Leake tried to do for us. Most kids wouldn't even entertain that thought with the career he has (ahead of him)," said Murphy.

The two leaders of the ballclub tried everything to fire up their teammates and even allegedly staged a pregame altercation that was caught on national TV. Brett Wallace and Ike Davis followed the pattern of Travis Buck and Jeff Larish of faking a fight to get their teammates fired up.

ASU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first and it seemed like it would be the Bulldogs that would be short of arms. Jason Kipnis singled to start things with one out and Brett Wallace walked, before a wild pitch moved them both up. Ike Davis sent a single to left that scored Kipnis to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Petey Paramore added an RBI single to make it 2-0, but ASU couldn't get any more in as Matt Newman ended the inning with a double play.

Murphy decided to start freshman Matt Newman on the hill and that move backfired in the second inning. Steve Susdorf and Alan Ahmady singled to start the second and after a pop-out, Tommy Mendonca knocked one over the right center field fence for a three-run homer that gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead.

Newman would be pulled after the second in favor of Reyes Dorado. Dorado allowed a single to Gavin Hedstrom to start the third and after a sacrifice bunt; an error by Raoul Torrez allowed Susdorf to reach and sent Hedstrom to third. Dorado couldn't field a slow roller by Ahmady and Hedstrom scored on the play to make it 4-2 Bulldogs.

ASU began to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the third, as Brett Wallace sent his 22rd and final home run of the season over the right field fence to cut the lead to 4-3. Matt Newman tied the game in the fourth with a leadoff homer to right, just his second of the season.

Newman gave the Devils the lead in the fifth with another home run to right center, doubling his season home run total in two innings.

Ike Davis got ASU out of jams in the fourth and fifth, but bad defense cost the Devils a run in the sixth. Danny Grubb reached on an error by Greg Bordes to start the rally and an error by Brett Wallace kept the inning alive after a strikeout and a fielder's choice. Steve Susdorf took advantage and singled to center with two outs that scored Grubb and tied the game at 5-5. Murphy then turned to Leake, who struck out the only batter he faced in the sixth to end the inning.

But that was the end of the party for Arizona State because the inning that ASU will remember for quite awhile occurred in the 7th. Leake hit Tommy Mendonca with one out and then walked pinch hitter Jordan Ribera who was hitting just .184 on the season. Danny Grubb then hit a dribbler along third base that Leake picked up, but a lack of communication occurred when Leake didn't realize nobody was covering third base and all runners were safe. Leake got a big strikeout when he got Danny Muno looking for the second out. Just when it appeared that he would sneak out of it, Leake hit Gavin Hedstrom with a 3-1 pitch to force in the go-ahead run.

Then the floodgates opened. Erik Wetzel cleared the bases with a double down the right field line and Susdorf added salt to the wounds with a two-run home run that gave Fresno an 11-5 advantage.

After the Bulldogs added a run in the top of the 9th, ASU attempted a dramatic comeback in the bottom half. Kiel Roling walked with one out and Raoul Torrez was hit by a pitch. Rocky Laguna pinch hit and walked to load the bases and Ryan Sontag singled to score Roling and cut the lead to 12-6. Jason Kipnis followed with a single to centerfield that scored two more and made it 12-8. Ike Davis singled, in what was likely his last collegiate at bat to cut it to 12-9 and bring the tying run to the plate. Petey Paramore walked and brought the winning run to the plate in the form of Matt Newman, who had homered twice already. Newman put a good swing on the pitch but lined out to left to end the game and ASU's season.

The Devils once again had their chances, but couldn't capitalize. ASU stranded a season-high 15 base runners and left the bases loaded three times on Monday night.

ASU won't make its first back-to-back trips to Omaha for the first time since 1993-94 and Fresno St. will head to the College World Series for the first time in 17 years. The Bulldogs become the first four seed to make it to Omaha. ASU and Cal St. Fullerton are the only two nationally seeded teams that will not be participating in the World Series.

Emotions ran wild on the field after the game was over, as many great ASU careers ended and close teammates played their last game together. Brett Wallace, Ike Davis, Petey Paramore, Josh Satow, Greg Bordes and possibly many others all played their last game in maroon and gold. Tommy Rafferty, Ryan Sontag, Rocky Laguna and Dustin Brader are seniors and do not have any eligibility left. Marcel Champagnie, Kiel Roling, Jason Kipnis, Reyes Dorado and Stephen Sauer all were drafted and are likely to sign and leave ASU.

"You can tell by the emotions on that field the last 30 minutes, there were tears in every guy's eyes," said Murphy, "That tells you something. I'm sorry I couldn't do a better job and maybe helped them with that last hit or something."

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