Late Outburst Lifts Devils

The Devils were just waiting for Jordan Pries to exit the game. The freshman was sensational, shutting ASU down through seven innings, but he then left in favor of an All-Conference closer. The Sun Devils responded with a seven run outburst in the 8th to stun Stanford in a 7-2 victory in front of 3,950 at Packard Stadium.

"That is why you play all nine," said ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy, "Set up perfectly for us right? Mike Leake against a freshman, then it backfires. Then they have one of the best closers with the lead, and it backfires. That is why it's the greatest game."

Lost in the shuffle was another outstanding pitching performance by Mike Leake. It appeared as if his performance was going to be wasted by a better one by Pries.

After Pries walked two in the first inning, he settled in to retire nine straight Sun Devils before Riccio Torrez got Arizona State's first hit with two outs in the 4th.

The Cardinal (15-15, 7-7 Pac 10) got on the board in the top of the 4th with a little bit of luck. Colin Walsh led off by hitting a ball back at Leake that hit off his glove and went the opposite way of second baseman Zack MacPhee and into right field. Stanford coach Mark Marquess then put on a hit and run that was perfectly executed by Joey August and Walsh went to third on the single. Toby Gerhart brought Walsh in with an RBI groundout.

It looked as if that one run would stand up because Pries was using his three pitches to pitch backwards and keep ASU (27-8, 12-2 Pac 10) off balance. Leake continued to keep the Devils close, by stranding a runner in scoring position in three straight innings after the 4th.

"Don't underestimate what Mike Leake did tonight," said Murphy, "It is a different game if this guy doesn't give us a chance tonight."

The Cardinal did get an insurance run against Leake in the top of the eighth. Adam Gaylord led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Jake Schlander. After Leake got Walsh to line out for the second out, Joey August hit a ball that bounced off of the glove of Jared McDonald and into right for an RBI double.

"That was a ball I catch, I have to catch," said McDonald, "I jumped too soon."

Marquess decided to pull Pries after the seventh, likely due to the 110 pitches the freshman had thrown or because he has a closer that only had walked one and allowed three runs all season long waiting in the bullpen.

Drew Storen entered with an ERA of 1.31, it would rise greatly before his day was done. The sophomore came in throwing hard, his pitches touching 96-97 miles per hour, but it was clear early the control specialist didn't have it.

Sparkplug Drew Maggi got things started by roping a 97 MPH fastball from Storen into the right center gap for a lead-off triple. Maybe the biggest at bat of the game was Jason Kipnis following Maggi's triple by getting hit by a 0-2 pitch to put runners at the corners.

"Here is a kid leading the league in RBI's with a guy on third and nobody out," said Murphy, "That was very unselfish, he didn't have to do that."

Storen matched his season walk total when he loaded the bases with nobody out by walking Carlos Ramirez on five pitches.

Matt Newman got the Devils on the board with a bloop single into right that scored Maggi and cut the deficit to 2-1. It was then redemption time for McDonald, who got chewed into by Murphy who not making the catch in the top of the inning. The junior ripped the first pitch from Storen into right that scored two to give ASU the lead for good at 3-2.

"It felt great, to come through for the team itself was huge," said McDonald, "I wasn't thinking at all, I just wanted to get a pitch I could hit hard. Newman got it started and it snowballed after that."

"I was screaming at him for missing that ball," said Murphy, "He responds better when I get on him."

The Devils weren't stopping there and continued to pile on. After a strike out for the first out of the inning, pinch hitter Johnny Ruettiger was intentionally walked to re-load the bases. A wild pitch brought home Newman to make it 4-2 and then Storen ran the count to 3-0 on MacPhee before being yanked by Marquess.

Michael Marshall ended up walking MacPhee to load the bases and then the interesting inning got even more interesting. Raoul Torrez laid down a perfect push bunt that got past first baseman Brent Milleville and appeared to hit the bag and go fair.

The play that would have scored two runs was called foul by first base umpire David Rogers, causing ASU first base coach Tim Esmay to explode and he was eventually ejected. Torrez ended up striking out and it looked like the call could cost ASU two big insurance runs.

Drew Maggi started the rally, it was only fitting that he finished it. The freshman fought off tough pitches from Marshall and eventually ran the count full before he dropped a hit into right that cleared the bases and gave ASU a 7-2 lead.

"It seemed like we had been waiting for a break the whole game, and that was our inning right there," said McDonald.

McDonald said that Pries' performance kind of took the life out of the home dugout.

"It was kind of dead," said McDonald of the dugout, "He didn't throw us a fastball in a fastball count."

Mitchell Lambson worked a scoreless ninth to lock up Leake's ninth victory of the season. Leake worked eight innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out nine. The win was Leake's 33rd of his career, tying him for fifth place all-time at ASU.

The crowd of nearly 4,000 was as loud as they have been all season long in the eighth, especially after the ejection of Esmay.

"It is great to get that hit and hear everyone behind you," said McDonald, "It was loud; I would like to see that more often."

With USC beating Oregon State for the second straight day, the Trojans moved past the Beavers and into second place, three games behind the Devils. Oregon State fell into a tie with Washington State for third place, 3.5 games behind ASU.

The Devils will try and complete the sweep of the Cardinal tomorrow afternoon at Packard Stadium. Seth Blair will take the mound for ASU and Brett Mooneyham (3-1, 3.94 ERA) will go for Stanford. First pitch is at 1PM.


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