June 12, 2010

Super Regional Scores, Schedules & Capsules


CBI Live
Resilient Sun Devils outlast Razorbacks in 12

By Steve Heath

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Steve Heath is a 20-plus-year veteran sports writer that has covered everything from junior high basketball to the Super Bowl. He has seen some of today’s top baseball prospects at their early stages, including following Tampa Bay’s David Price when he was a high school baseball and basketball star at Murfreesboro Blackman High School and current Vanderbilt ace Sonny Gray when he starred at Smyrna High in baseball and football. Heath was part of the radio broadcast team as a student at Indiana State and is currently assistant sports information director at Grand Canyon University, an NCAA Division II school that has produced 13 major leaguers, including Angels great Tim Salmon, Yankees World Series hero and Jim Gray protester Chad Curtis and recent draftees Jeff Urlaub (30th round/A’s) and Billy Schroeder (47th round/Brewers).


TEMPE, Ariz. – Top-ranked Arizona State showed its resilience Saturday.


After four hours and 20 minutes, 12 innings and 19 runners left on base, the No. 1 Sun Devils defeated Arkansas 7-6 in the first game of the best-of-three series in the Tempe Super Regional at Packard Stadium.


Freshman designated hitter Deven Marrero singled to left-center field on the first pitch he saw from reliever Brett Eibner (3-5) with one out in the 12th to score senior right fielder Kole Calhoun with the winning run.


“It’s one of my best hits. I’ll never forget it,” said Marrero, who had a two-run single in the third to give ASU a 3-0 lead. “I knew (Eibner) would pump fastballs because that’s the kind of guy he is. I was up ready to hit and attack.”


Through nine innings, Arizona State (51-8) left 17 runners on base, frustrating the coach but not the players.


“It’s always frustrating to a coach,” said first-year Arizona State coach Tim Esmay. “Thankfully, it’s not frustrating to the guys out there swinging. I grew a few more gray hairs, but our guys are resilient.”


“We know it’s going to be like that,” said Calhoun, who set a team record with five walks and added his fourth home run of the postseason. “We do whatever we have to do, nine innings, 12 innings, whatever it takes. Tonight it took 12.”


Arkansas (43-20) chased ASU ace Seth Blair, a Compensation A pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, after five innings. Blair was unbeaten in 12 decisions, but struggled Saturday against a talented Razorback club. He gave up nine hits and five runs, walking two and hitting a batter in five innings.


Back-to-back doubles from Arkansas designated hitter Zack Cox, a first-round choice of the Cardinals, and Eibner and Bo Bigham’s RBI-single gave the Razorbacks a 5-4 lead. Bigham had four hits and two RBI, but the visitors from the SEC could only manage one more run the rest of the way.


“We started out good and jumped on (Blair) but we didn’t come through late in the game,” said Bigham.


Arkansas took a 6-4 lead on a solo home run by right fielder Matt Vinson, who came into the game hitting just .209.


Part of Arkansas’ late-game struggles was due to a strong Sun Devil relief effort. Sophomore left-hander Mitchell Lambson (8-2) gave up only one hit in the final five innings. He fanned seven and walked one. He faced just one over the minimum, picking off Bigham after he singled in the 10th.


While the Sun Devils were leaving runners stranded, the Razorbacks were getting them picked off. ASU catcher Austin Barnes picked off one runner at first base, threw another out stealing and was credited with two more caught-stealings due to batter interference.


“It was a very competitive game and a very strange game,” said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. “We had two interference calls on strike threes and there were a probably a few other things I can’t comment on.


“Both teams gave it their all. We battled and we’ll have another game tomorrow.”


In the seventh inning with Arkansas leading 6-5, Razorback left fielder Collin Kuhn threw a perfect strike to the plate on a single by Zack MacPhee to get Andrew Aplin for the final out of the inning.


MacPhee and Aplin got revenge in the ninth. Aplin, who had singled, was on third with two outs when MacPhee’s chopper to the right of the mound was fielded cleanly by Arkansas reliever Jordan Pratt, but the rushed throw to first base was off line and errant, scoring Aplin with the tying run.


Game 2 of the series starts at 7 p.m. PDT Sunday. Arkansas will throw ace Drew Smyly (9-1, 2.56). Arizona State will start Merrill Kelly (10-2, 3.52).