Tempe Super Regional Preview

Arizona State is back in the spot in which their season ended last year, but this year the Sun Devils have a deeper pitching staff and a multitude of ways to score runs. Standing in their way of their 21st trip to Omaha is the Clemson Tigers, another team used to playing in June, as they are looking for their 12th trip to the College World Series.

The two storied programs have met just once prior in their history, but they will collide starting Saturday in Tempe with their seasons on the line.

#1 Arizona State Sun Devils (5th National Seed)

Record: 47-12, 21-6 Pacific-10 (Champions)

Probable Starting Lineup:

1. Drew Maggi SS .305 0 HR 21 RBI 20 SB
2. Jason Kipnis CF .387 15 HR 68 RBI 24 SB
3. Carlos Ramirez C .341 18 HR 69 RBI 2 SB
4. Kole Calhoun LF .297 9 HR 39 RBI 10 SB
5. Riccio Torrez 1B .294 6 HR 34 RBI 3 SB
6. Matt Newman RF .310 7 HR 51 RBI 4 SB
7. Raoul Torrez 3B .256 1 HR 26 RBI 15 SB
8. Johnny Ruettiger DH .350 1 HR 13 RBI 10 SB
9. Zack MacPhee 2B .267 4 HR 35 RBI 7 SB

Probable Starting Pitchers: Mike Leake 15-1 1.23 ERA
Josh Spence 8-1 2.37 ERA
Seth Blair 7-2 3.16 ERA
Jordan Swagerty 4-1 4.55 ERA

Top Relievers:

Mitchell Lambson 8-3 2.31 ERA 4 Saves
Jason Franzblau 3-2 2.40 ERA
Matt Newman 2-1 4.59 ERA

#1 Clemson Tigers

Record: 44-20, 19-11 ACC (2nd Place, Atlantic Division)

Probable Starting Lineup:

1. Chris Epps DH .294 4 HR 24 RBI 9 SB
2. Mike Freeman 2B .338 4 HR 44 RBI 11 SB
3. Jeff Schaus LF .326 12 HR 49 RBI 9 SB
4. Ben Paulsen 1B .369 13 HR 60 RBI 3 SB
5. Wilson Boyd RF .349 3 HR 46 RBI 5 SB
6. Brad Miller SS .273 3 HR 36 RBI 16 SB
7. John Nester C .304 5 HR 33 RBI 1 SB
8. Addison Johnson CF .217 2 HR 14 RBI 9 SB
9. Jason Stolz 3B .315 1 HR 21 RBI 7 SB

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Trey Delk RHP 4-1 3.44 ERA
Casey Harman LHP 7-3 3.78 ERA
Chris Dwyer LHP 5-5 4.85 ERA

Top Reliever:

Brandon Burke 4-5 3.08 ERA 11 Saves

Tigers and Sun Devils At a Glance:

Pitching: The Sun Devils will have a tremendous advantage for game one by sending Golden Spikes Award Finalist Mike Leake to the mound for Game 1.

There is no pitcher in the country that is more battled tested and proven than Leake is, having pitched in the postseason for three years now, including one trip to Omaha.

The Tigers have a pitching staff of talented arms, but they are unproven and young. It is unknown what the rotation will look like for longtime Tiger coach Jack Leggett, if he follows his pattern, Trey Delk will get the ball on Saturday.

Delk is a fifth year senior, who is in his second season at Clemson. The righty didn't pitch a lot of innings this season, but has been the Friday starter for the latter part of the season. He is the most experienced pitcher on the staff, but is not the most talented.

Sophomore Casey Harman will likely get a start in the series and a pair of freshman Scott Weismann and Chris Dwyer will also have a shot to pitch.

The Devils will no doubt start Leake on Saturday and he gives them so many options for the rest of the weekend. Whether or not Josh Spence can start will determine Sunday's plans for Pat Murphy and the Devils.

If Spence can make the start on Sunday, Jordan Swagerty and Mitchell Lambson will be in relief of the lefty. That would give Seth Blair the ball on Monday if a deciding game is necessary. ASU has lots of options out of the pen, including Swagerty, Lambson, maybe Spence, the red hot senior Jason Franzblau and even Matt Newman.

There is maybe just one team in the nation, Texas, that has as much pitching depth as the Sun Devils. With depth on the staff for once in a long time and the best pitcher in the nation going in game one, ASU could win this super regional on pitching alone.


Hitting: The two teams enter with identical batting averages of .303. The Devils have the power advantage by blasting 70 home runs on the season, to Clemson's 64. Arizona State finds ways to get runs home, despite being similar in batting average and home runs, ASU averages over a run per game more than the Tigers.

A lot of that has to do with ASU's team speed. The Devils have 104 stolen bases on the season, Clemson has just 80. Clemson's catcher John Nester has a very good arm and threw out 13 of the 27 runners that tried to steal on him this season.

Ben Paulsen and Jeff Schaus lead the offense for Clemson with, but a guy to keep an eye on is Kyle Parker. The talented outfielder has 12 home runs, but was in a big slump before breaking out of it with an eventual regional winning two run single in a pinch hitting role on Monday against Oklahoma State.

ASU does a better job of getting on base than the Tigers, which could be a factor this weekend. For ASU, Pac 10 Player of the Year Jason Kipnis leads the way, but the igniter is Drew Maggi. For Clemson to be successful, they have to keep Maggi off the bases, which keeps the bases empty for sluggers Kipnis and Carlos Ramirez.

The Devils will need Kole Calhoun to continue to hit well, but will need contributions from freshmen Maggi, Riccio Torrez, Johnny Ruettiger and Zack MacPhee.

This series could come down to who is not intimidated as freshman, Clemson's pitching or ASU's lineup. Overall, ASU leads in home runs, runs scored, stolen bases and on base percentage and will be hitting in the comforts of Packard Stadium.



If ASU has a weakness it could be defense on the infield. But, Clemson actually has a worse fielding percentage at .967 to ASU's .969. Drew Maggi leads ASU with 14 errors, but Clemson's shortstop Brad Miller has committed an astounding 23. Other than Miller's error total, the rest of the numbers are pretty even between the two teams. In a series in which runs could be at a premium, shortstop defense could be the key. It will be up to Maggi and Miller to play good defense, something they've struggled with at times.


Intangibles: It is hard to find a better matchup in the coaching ranks than Pat Murphy going against Jack Leggett. Leggett has won ACC Coach of the Year three times and Murphy just won his fourth Pac 10 Coach of the Year award. Both of these men have won over 1,000 games and have each had multiple trips to the College World Series.

It should be fun to watch two Hall of Fame coaches battle it out for another trip to Omaha. The Devils will have the advantage of playing at home, in the heat and friendly confines of Packard Stadium.

While Clemson hails from South Carolina, the game time temperatures will be in triple digits and it could play a role in ASU's success.

Packard Stadium is a park tailored to ASU and its big offensive numbers. However, Mike Leake and this year's pitching staff have put up these numbers in a big offensive park.

The Devils are used to pitching at Packard, we will see how the young Clemson pitching staff will handle the park. There also will be nearly 5,000 ASU fans in attendance each day, another factor in ASU's favor.

The main key for Clemson to win this super regional, is to have their young pitchers grow up fast in a pressure situation, otherwise it could be a long weekend for Clemson.


Prediction: ASU Wins Series 2-1

Tempe Super Regional Schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, 6 P.M. ESPNU
Game 2: Sunday, 7 P.M. ESPN2
Game 3: Monday, 4 P.M. ESPN2 (If Necessary)

Sun Devil Source Top Stories