Arizona State beats Tigers

TEMPE, Ariz. — If someone would have told Clemson coach Jack Leggett before Saturday's Tempe (Ariz.) Super Regional that he was going to get four runs off eight hits against the nation's top pitcher, he would have gladly taken his chances at a victory.

And that might had been the case had the 13th-ranked Tigers not allowed No. 2 Arizona State to score six runs with two outs. Instead, Clemson finds itself in a must-win situation following a 7-4 loss at Packard Stadium.

Arizona State (48-12) can close out the series and advance to the College World Series with a win tonight. Clemson will have to win tonight to force a Game 3 and then win again Monday to move on to the College World Series.

"We just didn't quite button things down when we thought we had them buttoned down," Leggett said. "They just got a couple of big hits when they had to."

But the biggest play of the night had nothing to do with ASU's offense, instead it was its defense that made the play of the night and moved the Sun Devils within one game of reaching the College World Series.

With runners on first and second and one out with Arizona State ahead a run in the top of the sixth inning, centerfielder Jason Kipnis made a play that would make Willie Mays proud. The junior robbed Clemson's Wilson Boyd of a sure double and RBI when he made a running-catch at the warning track in right centerfield before rolling and hitting the fence.

"He has been doing that all year for us," ASU pitcher Mike Leake said. "I was expecting it."

What Leake, the two-time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, wasn't expecting was Clemson (44-21) to rattle him the way that it did. The Tigers' three-earned runs off Leake tied for the most earned runs he allowed this season.

"We did a pretty good job," Leggett said. "I think our adjustments were pretty good. He is a good pitcher. He threw a variety of good pitches, but we did what we needed to do, but I just wish we were a little sharper defensively."

Luckily for Leake, his offense came up big for him when he wasn't having his best night on the mound. In addition to the six two-out runs, ASU finished the night with 14 hits, while scoring in each of the last four innings.

"That's the first time that has happened this year," Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy said. "Usually it is one run or two runs (Leake gets). We have never scored like that with Mike on the mound."

Again it was Chris Epps leading the way for Clemson as he drove in three runs and was 2-for-5 at the plate. Brad Miller, John Nester and Matt Sanders also had two hits. Sanders was also credited with driving in a run.

ASU was led by Carlos Ramirez's three hits and three RBIs, which all came with two outs. Kipnis added a solo home run in the first and Drew Maggi also produced three hits. The Sun Devils also got RBIs from Kole Calhoun, Matt Newman and Zack MacPhee.

The biggest of those hits was Newman's two-out double off the right centerfield fence in the bottom of the seventh that scored Ramirez from second. That turned out to be the game-winning run.

"He threw me a slider and that's the pitch I had been struggling on lately, and I finally connected on one," Newman said. "It worked out well."

It didn't work out so well for the Tigers.

"Two-out runs are never good. That's something that we preach," said Clemson pitcher Casey Harman, who allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5.2 innings of work. "I just wasn't getting the job done with two outs. It is frustrating, but we have to move on."

Clemson will have to move on fast.

"We have to collect ourselves. This is a three-game series. It's just one game," Leggett said. "Now we have to win two ballgames, but we have to just take it one at a time."

Clemson will start lefty Chris Dwyer (3-3, 5.59 ERA) tonight in Game 2, while ASU will go with Josh Spence (8-1, 2.37). He is also a left-handed pitcher. First pitch is set for 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and will be televised by ESPN2.


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