Season Ends in Another Omaha Disappointment

It wasn't pretty and certainly not expected. It was over in a hurry and in the end, ASU was embarrassed. South Carolina jumped out to a 10-0 lead before the Sun Devils knew what hit them and the Gamecocks ended ASU's season 11-4 at Rosenblatt Stadium.

"Well, obviously very disappointed in the outcome today," said Arizona State Head Coach Tim Esmay. "Obviously you can't have a start like we did against a quality team of South Carolina. I thought they did a heck of a job of putting us on our heels, and I think you have to do that in a game like this where you lose and you go home.

"And I think the team that kind of takes control of that and is the aggressor and puts you on your heels, it really makes it tough for you to battle up climb."

Last year ended by allowing a walk-off homer, this season's ended need no such drama. The Sun Devils went down without much of a fight.

USC tagged ASU starter Merrill Kelly for eight runs in the second inning, the most given up in a single inning by the Sun Devils since 2007.

Adrian Morales and Kyle Enders started the big inning with back-to-back singles, but Kelly punched out Bobby Haney, who was trying to bunt.

Scott Wingo picked up his teammate and made it 2-0 with a double down the left field line. Two batters later, Whit Merrifield added an RBI single to put USC up 3-0.

A huge blow came one batter later when Jackie Bradley Jr. sent a three-run blast over the centerfield fence to put the Gamecocks in front 6-0.

Kelly then got a lineout for the second out, but Brady Thomas kept the inning alive for Morales, who belted a two-run homer off of the leftfield foul pole.

That ended Kelly's day, but the Gamecocks got two more off of Mitchell Lambson in the third. Runs scored on a hit batsman and a walk to increase the deficit to 10-0.

"Well, I wouldn't say he didn't have it," Esmay said of Kelly. "They had a couple of balls that hit some Seeing Eye and then boom, their guys their big players show up in big games, and their guys took some good swings and finished off some ABs.

"We had a couple of things get through, and then, boom, they take advantage of it. And it's as cliché, as they say, that's baseball."

RBI singles from Austin Barnes and Drew Maggi got ASU on the board in the fifth and Deven Marrero and Matt Newman added RBI singles in the eighth, but it wasn't nearly enough.

For the second straight day, ASU's starting pitching didn't show up. Kelly was rocked for 10 hits and eight runs in just 1 2/3 innings of work. It was by far the junior's worst outing of the season, just like ace Seth Blair had a day earlier.

"Definitely stunning," said Lambson about today's loss. "For the most part, we've got great quality starts by all our starters all year long. So when we're on our heels, down eight runs, it's tough. It will get to you. It makes you think.

"So our mindset was just trying to chip away, not chasing the scoreboard or anything. But I mean, an eight run deficit is hard to overcome, especially with a quality team like South Carolina."

With the loss, the Sun Devils became the first number one overall seed in the NCAA Baseball tournament to make the College World Series and not win a game. It is just the third time in program history that ASU has gone 0-2 in Omaha.

The hopes for a national championship were dashed right from the get go in ASU's final appearance at Rosenblatt Stadium. The Sun Devils didn't lead once in two games and were outplayed from the get go.

It will go down as a quick exit that wasn't expected. The Sun Devils had overcome odds all season long, battled through the adversity of losing their head coach and All-American pitcher before they even took the field in February.

ASU responded with another Pac-10 Championship and the top seed in the NCAA Tournament. In the tournament they showed no signs of backing down. They eased through the Tempe Regional and won two hard fought Super Regional games.

Then they got to their house of horrors and yet again fell short of what ASU fans crave, a long lost national championship.

Those will have to wait at least one more year because 2010 ends in another Omaha disappointment.

"Obviously we did not want to end this tournament the way it ended," Esmay stated, "but I'll tell you this, there's nobody that feels as bad or as upset than those 35 guys in that clubhouse, and extremely proud of this ball club."

Special thanks to Wes Mitchell from GameCockAnthem.com on providing the quotes.


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