ASU Battles Its Way into Super Regional

Step one is complete. On the strength of home runs from Kole Calhoun and Deven Marrero and a gutsy pitching performance from Jake Borup, No. 1 ASU earned a hard fought 8-4 victory over Hawaii at Packard Stadium on Sunday night. With the win, the Sun Devils (50-8) won the Tempe Regional and moved one step closer to returning to the College World Series.

The next step will not require ASU to leave Tempe. The Sun Devils will host the Super Regional next weekend, but they do not know their opponent quite yet. That will have to wait until tomorrow's decisive game in the Fayetteville Regional between Washington St. and Arkansas. The winner of that game will come to Packard Stadium.

"It is an exciting time. We came in wanting to win three in a row that was the goal," Calhoun said. "We went out and performed well and this is something that has been the plan since the beginning."

The Rainbows had to earn their way to Sunday's nightcap by eliminating San Diego earlier in the day. With the temperatures in the 100's, playing two games was not an easy task.

That didn't stop UH from coming out and putting the pressure on ASU early. The Rainbows used three stolen bases in the first inning to set up a David Freitas sacrifice fly.

"This is a good club that we are playing," UH head coach Mike Trapasso said as to why he came out aggressive on the bases. "If you are going to hang with them, you have to be aggressive. You can't just sit back and hope that good things happen."

ASU answered back by loading the bases with nobody out in the second inning, thanks to a double from Riccio Torrez, a walk and an error.

UH starter Connor Little then plunked Raoul Torrez with a pitch to force in a run and tie the game at 1-1. With the bases still loaded and nobody out, ASU could have had a huge inning, but Little got Andrew Aplin to ground into a double play.

A run scored to make it 2-1 ASU, but it ended the shot at an even bigger inning.

The Rainbows tied the game in the third inning on an RBI double by Pi'ikea Kitamura that scored Kolten Wong, who reached on a walk.

Kole Calhoun answered back with his third home run of the regional, a solo shot in the bottom of the third to put ASU up 3-2.

Borup surrendered a two-run homer to Sean Montplaisir in the fourth that gave Hawaii back the lead at 4-3.

The back-and-forth affair continued in the bottom of the fourth. Raoul Torrez drew a lead-off walk and Aplin singled to left. Knowing that his team needed runs in that inning, ASU head coach Tim Esmay elected to have Austin Barnes bunt the runners up for Drew Maggi.

The plan worked to perfection and Barnes executed the sacrifice and Maggi ripped a double down the left field line to score two and put ASU up for good at 5-4.

"That was huge. What set that up was a great bunt by Barnes," Esmay said. "We are telling Maggi we are setting it up for you, ‘Mag' coming up there and having a fearless AB that is a big deal. That is championship baseball."

After getting the lead back, Borup settled in and battled through two more scoreless innings, before giving way to the bullpen.

"Mentally I am drained right now," Borup said. "That was one of the hardest outings I have had, I was trying to get us the next round, trying to do whatever I had to do. It was a battle, but it is obviously worth it."

Despite giving up early runs, he still turned in a solid performance and picked up his 11th win of the season.

"What a warrior. The way he pitched, the way he battled," Esmay said of his pitcher. "We talked about before the game that we were going to take some punches. We knew they were going to give us their best shot and we did a good job of matching it."

Marrero provided a bit of breathing room in the fifth, connecting for his second home run of the regional, and a two-run shot that put ASU up 7-4.

Mitchell Lambson took over for the seventh and was flawless in two innings of relief. The sophomore didn't allow a base runner and struck out four.

ASU gave closer Jordan Swagerty an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI single by Zack MacPhee and the Sun Devils stopper worked a scoreless ninth to seal the regional championship.

Calhoun finished 2-4 at the plate and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tempe Regional. Following suit from last year, Calhoun has really found his power stroke in the postseason.

"I am just swinging the bat and taking what they give me," he said. "I am not out there trying to hit home runs, what I can I am going to take."

Maggi, Riccio Torrez and Aplin all added two hits for the Sun Devils.

While ASU may not know its opponent quite yet for the Super Regional, they found a believer in Trapasso.

"That is one of the better college baseball teams that I have seen in eight or ten years," the Hawaii skipper said. "They really don't have many weaknesses that I saw in the two games we played."

2010 All-Tempe Regional Team

Kole Calhoun, ASU (Most Outstanding Player)

Kole Calhoun, ASU

Deven Marrero, ASU

Riccio Torrez, ASU

Seth Blair, ASU

Merrill Kelly, ASU Jeffrey Van Dorrnum, Hawaii

Kolten Wong, Hawaii

David Freitas, Hawaii

Mike Ferraro, USD

A.J. Griffin, USD

Dan Buchholz, UWM

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