June 14, 2009

Game 3 Notes

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Sun Devils Earn TKO in 10th against Tar Heels

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

OMAHA, Neb. – It was like a heavyweight fight, with the teams going toe-to-toe for 10 rounds.


After a dropped fly ball that could have been an inning-ending double play in the top of the 10th, Carlos Ramirez had a tie-breaking single followed by a three-run homer off the bat of Kole Calhoun as fifth-seeded Arizona State defeated fourth-seeded North Carolina 5-2 in Game 3 of the College World Series in front of 24,273 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.


The Sun Devils (50-12) will face the winner of the Texas-Southern Miss game at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The Tar Heels (47-17) will play an elimination game against the loser at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.


After going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, Drew Maggi had a one-out single to right in the 10th. With Maggi on the move, Jason Kipnis greeted reliever Brian Moran with a high fly to right. Garrett Gore battled the sun and the wind, but could not corral the ball as Maggi held second. Ramirez laced a single up the middle to plate Maggi and snap the 1-1 tie. Calhoun had grounded back to the pitcher three times and struck out looking before crushing a homer to left, his 10th, to give ASU a 5-1 lead.


“I got a 1-1 pitch up in the wind and the wind took over,” Calhoun said. “I was trying just to have a better at-bat than the last four and it wasn’t hard to do. [Head coach Pat Murphy] told me before that at-bat, just take what he gives me and hit it into left center. Fortunately it got up in the air and got out of here.”


Kyle Seager doubled and scored in the bottom of the frame to make the final 5-2.


Both starting pitchers were outstanding. Tar Heel junior right-hander Alex White matched career highs with nine innings and 12 strikeouts. He allowed seven hits, three walks and one earned run.


“It was obviously a tough game,” White said. “I think we played pretty well and so did they. I was able to spot my fastball and I think that’s the biggest key for me. If I can spot my fastball and throw some off-speed pitches to keep hitters guessing usually helps me out. It’s a tough loss. The good thing is we get to play again.”


“North Carolina was tremendous,” Murphy said. “Alex White was tremendous. It’s not just about stuff. That kid competed. Every big situation we had, he turned it up a notch. You knew you were in a fight with somebody that was pretty special.”


Sun Devil lefty Josh Spence pitched seven innings with eight hits, one earned run, three walks and eight strikeouts. Mitchell Lambson (9-3) tossed the final three innings for ASU with three hits, one run, no walks and five strikeouts.


“A terrific game, I thought,” UNC head coach Mike Fox said, “two outstanding pitchers going head-to-head. You see why Alex White is so highly regarded. Their lefty too, Spence, I thought he was terrific.”


 ASU had a two-out rally in the second as Johnny Ruettiger had a double, Raoul Torrez walked and Zack MacPhee had a run-scoring single to give the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead.


UNC got the equalizer in the sixth as Levi Michael drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice by Mark Fleury and scored on a base hit by Gore.


Ruettiger finished with three hits and Torrez had two for ASU. Seager had three hits and a run for the Tar Heels, while Gore, Dustin Ackley and Mike Cavasinni each had two hits for UNC.


“In a close game like this it’s going to come down to a big play here or there,” Fox said, “a big swing of the bat and we weren’t able to get it done and they were. It’s a disappointing loss for us, but credit Arizona State. I thought they pitched exceptionally well, both their guys. We had a couple opportunities to score during the game and didn’t get it done. My hat’s off to Arizona State. They are a terrific team. They played better than we did today.”


(photo courtesy of ASU Media Relations Office)