Josh Spence got the call from Pat Murphy for the second time against North Carolina and once again turned in a solid performance for his second win of the World Series. Working on three days rest, Spence threw 126 pitches after throwing 122 on Sunday.
"I wouldn't say I was tired," said Spence, "I got caught up in the moment when I gave up that three-spot. I'm blessed to have such a poised coaching staff and such a poised catcher to keep me in line and get me back on track."
Spence's catcher Carlos Ramirez said that he told his pitcher just to do what you normally do and not to worry that he was pitching on short rest.
"He went out there right before the game and said, what am I doing?" said Ramirez, "I said you're about to pitch, then he said, but it's on three days rest. I told him to do what you normally do.
"Then after we made a couple of errors I told him, this is baseball; people are going to make errors. Just keep hitting your spots and he did."
The Tar Heels jumped to an early lead against Spence in the second inning, which started with a leadoff walk to Mark Fleury. Levi Michael then reached on a fielder's choice and then Drew Maggi threw away a ball hit by Ben Bunting, putting runners at second and third. Jacob Stallings then bunted home a run that made it 1-0 UNC.
That lead got bigger in the fourth inning when North Carolina added three more runs and it began to look like the Devils season was close to being put to rest. Garrett Gore led off with a single and stole second while Spence struck out Fleury for the first out. Spence then struck out Levi Michael, but the pitch got away from Carlos Ramirez and allowed Michael to reach first. Jacob Stallings then bunted home another run and UNC led 2-0. Mike Cavasinni followed with an RBI single and Ryan Graepel added an RBI, before Spence caught Ackley looking to end the inning down 4-0.
Then just like what Texas did to them on Tuesday, Arizona State took all of the momentum in the game with one swing of the bat. Zack MacPhee led off the 5th with a walk, but was forced out on a fielder's choice hit into by Drew Maggi. Jason Kipnis then was hit by a pitch and Carlos Ramirez walked ending the day for UNC starter Matt Harvey.
UNC coach Mike Fox went to lefty Brian Moran to face the left handed Kole Calhoun with the bases loaded and Calhoun fell behind 1-2 in the count before working it full and then blasted his third home run of the World Series, this time to right center for a game tying grand slam.
Spence shut down the Tar Heels for two straight innings after the grand slam, before the Devils exploded to put the game out of reach in the bottom of the seventh, thanks again to Calhoun.
Kipnis started the inning with a single to right and Ramirez drew another walk. Once again Mike Fox went to the bullpen before Kole Calhoun stepped in and again it backfired. Calhoun greeted Collin Bates with a double to right center that brought around both runners and gave the Devils the lead for good at 6-4. After a strikeout by Bates, the sophomore walked Johnny Ruettiger and Riccio Torrez to load the bases and then a passed ball scored Calhoun to make it 7-4.
Jared McDonald then walked to reload the bases and Fox again went to the bullpen to watch it immediately backfire. Nate Striz allowed a single to Zack MacPhee that plated two and then after a double steal, Maggi followed suit with a two run single of his own. Carlos Ramirez capped the inning with an RBI single.
In all, ASU plated eight runs in the decisive inning and sent 13 batters to the plate against four different Tar Heel pitchers.
Jordan Swagerty relieved Spence after the long inning and allowed a meaningless run in the ninth inning while closing the door on the Tar Heels season.
Kole Calhoun finished 2-3 and his two hits drove in six runs. Jason Kipnis and Zack MacPhee also had two hits for ASU, while MacPhee and Maggi drove in a pair of runs.
The Devils now face another do or die game right away tomorrow against Texas. ASU now must beat Texas twice in a row in order to advance to the championship series, starting tomorrow at 4PM Arizona time. The Devils have yet to announce a starter, but either Seth Blair or Mike Leake will get the ball. Murphy said he will talk with Leake to see if his ace can bounce back and start on Friday. Texas will likely start game one starter Cole Green (5-3, 3.08 ERA).
"We don't have much time to recuperate," said Murphy who won his 1,000 career game as a manager, "But we're looking forward to the opportunity to compete."
"We're honored and grateful to be in this position. We'll think about them tomorrow. Texas is a tremendous baseball program, they've played great, they beat us last game, so we'll have our work cut out for us."