Leake Fans 15, Devils Top Oral Roberts

On Friday ASU won with offense, but with two Pitchers of the Year in their respective conferences squaring off, you knew it was going to be a pitchers' duel on Saturday. That is exactly what the 4,201 fans at Packard Stadium saw as Mark Serrano and Mike Leake squared off with Leake prevailing as the Devils moved one win away from the Super Regionals with a 4-1 victory over Oral Roberts.

The two hurlers combined for 28 strikeouts in 17.1 innings and both worked into the ninth inning, but Leake finished the deal and completed his seventh game of the season.

The Devils (46-12) did get a run on the board off of the Summit League Player of the Year in the second inning, thanks to a clutch two out hit by freshman DH Johnny Ruettiger. Kole Calhoun led off the inning with his fifth hit of the regional, this time a single back up the middle. Riccio Torrez sacrificed Calhoun to second, but Serrano caught Matt Newman looking for the second out. Ruettiger then smacked a single to center that brought around Calhoun to put ASU up 1-0.

ASU got one more off of Serrano in the third before the senior settled in. Drew Maggi singled to right with one away and Jason Kipnis then drew a free pass to put two on for Carlos Ramirez. Ramirez sent a single to right that scored Maggi and gave ASU a 2-0 lead. Calhoun then walked to load the bases, but Serrano struck out Riccio Torrez and got Newman to groundout to end the inning with no further damage.

Serrano worked out of another jam in the fifth inning, after an error by his shortstop and a double by Kipnis put runners at second and third with nobody out. Ramirez hit into a fielders' choice, with Maggi being tagged out at the plate by Serrano and Calhoun ended the inning by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Golden Eagle (32-14) defense let down their pitcher in the sixth because a throwing error by third baseman Danny Duffy allowed Riccio Torrez to get to second leading off the inning. After a strikeout to Newman, Ruettiger drew a walk and then Pat Murphy went to his bench.

Murphy called upon Jared McDonald to pinch hit for Raoul Torrez and McDonald singled up the middle scoring Riccio Torrez and putting ASU up 3-0. ASU was primed for a big inning, but Zack MacPhee lined into a double play, with McDonald being doubled off first on an interference call.

With Leake cruising through Oral Roberts, Serrano was matching Leake. ASU finally got Serrano out of the game in the ninth inning by adding another insurance run. Zack MacPhee led off with a walk and one out later scored on a double to left by Kipnis to make it 4-0.

Oral Roberts finally got to Leake in the ninth, but it was too little and too late. Juan Martinez doubled down the left field line with one away in the ninth, but Leake then struck out Seth Furmanek for the second out. Michael Notaro then blooped a single down the left field line that fell just fair and past the glove of the diving Jared McDonald to break up the third straight shutout bid for Mike Leake and ended his scoreless inning streak at 33. PJ Sequeira then doubled to make things more interesting with the tying run coming to the plate, but Leake got Johnny Roberts to strike out swinging to end the game.

Leake struck out the side in the ninth and ended with 15 strikeouts, which tied a career high. The junior improved to an NCAA best 15-1 on the season and watched is ERA fall to 1.23. Leake took a no hitter into the sixth inning before Robert Barbosa broke it up with a single. The win on Saturday was Leake's 39th in a Sun Devil uniform, moving him past Floyd Bannister for fourth place in school history.

While the Pac 10 Pitcher of the Year was leading the way on the mound, Pac 10 Player of the Year Jason Kipnis led the way at the plate. ASU's centerfielder finished 3-4 with an RBI and a stolen base on Saturday night, after homering on Friday. Johnny Ruettiger went 1-2 on the day and stole two bases. The freshman has not reached base only once in nine plate appearances in the first two games of the regional. The Devils offense ran into a hot pitcher on Saturday and struck out 13 times, but forced Serrano to throw 158 pitches on the evening.

The Devils now await the winner of Sunday afternoon's elimination game between Oral Roberts and Kent State. Kent State staved off elimination and ended Cal Poly's season by holding off a late comeback attempt by the Mustangs and winning Saturday's early game 10-9.

The first game gets underway at 1PM tomorrow, with the winner advancing to take on ASU at 6PM. The Devils have two games to win one and advance to the Super Regionals. Seth Blair will likely take the mound on Sunday evening for ASU.


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