June 10, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

Bulldogs outscore Sun Devils, punch ticket to Omaha

Fresno State becomes first No. 4 seed to reach College World Series


By Alex Espinoza

The State Press   www.asuwebdevil.com


Alex finished his third year at Arizona State and is pursuing his undergraduate degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. A Bay Area native, Alex came to ASU for the weather, sports and girls and hasn't been disappointed. He still keeps the A's, Raiders, Warriors and Cal sports (Shhh don't tell anybody) close to his heart and has also taken an interest in the other football (Go Arsenal and Spain) in recent years.

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Fresno State baseball team hung tough with Arizona State for six innings.


Then it blew the top-seeded Sun Devils right out of the water.


The Bulldogs can officially call themselves Omaha’s next Cinderella, after becoming the first No. 4 seed to reach the College World Series with Monday’s 12-9 defeat of ASU in Game 3 of the NCAA Super Regionals.


Fresno State’s path to Rosenblatt Stadium hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination.


“We’ve been on the road for a month,” Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said. “These kids have ground down and played on guts the past two days. Today in particular, I’m really proud of the way they finished it.”


Fresno State hasn’t played a home game since May 11, winning its third straight WAC regular season and tournament titles since.


Then the Bulldogs powered their way through the Long Beach Regional, downing top-seeded Long Beach State and No. 2 seed San Diego in the process.


Despite their inspired play, most figured they were an afterthought in the Desert.


ASU had what looked to be an unstoppable offense, a school-record 15 players selected in the Major League Baseball draft, a pair of quality starters and a quality bullpen. No less, all three games of the series would be played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Packard Stadium.


But the contest was just another friendly reminder as to why they play the game.


ASU held a 5-4 lead after the first five frames, getting a solo shot in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings, including two from starting pitcher Matt Newman.


He lasted just two innings, though, in a contest where ASU coach Pat Murphy used seven pitchers.


Fresno State outfielder Steve Susdorf tied the game up at 5 apiece with an RBI single in the sixth before the Bulldogs exploded for six runs in the seventh.


All came with two outs against ASU pitcher Mike Leake, who was just two days removed from a 7.2 inning, 118-pitch starting effort.


“I’m proud of what Mike Leake tried to do for us,” Murphy said of the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year. “Most kids wouldn’t even entertain that thought with the career he has.”


Leake plunked Fresno State outfielder Gavin Hedstrom with the bases loaded to bring in the first run. Second baseman Erik Wetzel (right) broke open the game a few pitches later, with his bases-clearing double down the right field line.


But Fresno State wasn’t done.


Outfielder Steve Susdorf drove a two-run homer to deep center to end Leake’s evening and the ASU season. It was 11-5 and the Sun Devils would never recover.


That’s not to say they didn’t make it interesting.


ASU brought 10 men to plate in the final half inning en route to scoring four futile runs. Newman struck out to start the inning and lined out to Susdorf with the bases loaded to end the game.


“Right there’s Omaha if you catch that ball,” Susdorf said. “I’m making darn sure I’m going to catch that ball.”