Dogs Down No. 3 Devils
June 9, 2008
TEMPE, Ariz. - In trademark fashion, the Bulldog baseball team exceeded expectations when their backs were against the wall.
That was the case Sunday night at Packard Stadium at No. 3 Arizona State, when Fresno State faced elimination but outplayed the Sun Devils and earned an 8-6 win in the second game of the Super Regional round.
That sets up a showdown Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. The winner will advance to the College World Series, which begins Sunday at Omaha.
The win by Fresno State snapped a 13-game home field winning streak by the Sun Devils, who hadn't lost at home since April 19 when two-time defending NCAA champion Oregon State beat them 12-3. ASU (49-12) was playing its 44th home game of the season and is now 39-4 at Packard Stadium.
"This was a gutty performance by a gutty group of guys," said head coach Mike Batesole, who improved to 8-5 in NCAA tournament action at Fresno State. "We had some guys really come through for us. (Steve Detwiler) Det showed the strength he has with that homerun and it gave us a belief. Gavin's homerun was huge. We've had guys all year come through for us. (Brandon) Burke was rock solid. When he got in a fix he found a way out of it. That's why he has more saves than anyone in Fresno State history."
The Bulldogs (41-29) have won 10 of their last 12 games, and are 8-2 in postseason play counting the WAC tournament (4-0), NCAA Long Beach Regional (3-1) and Super Regional (1-1)
Fresno State senior Clayton Allison (3-5, 3.74 ERA) drew the start for the Bulldogs. In his last appearance, Allison tossed a complete game five-hit shutout to beat No. 6 San Diego in the Long Beach Regional. Allison, a recent draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was a 10-game winner in 2007 for the Bulldogs.
Left-handed pitcher Josh Satow (9-3, 4.58 ERA) started for the Sun Devils. ASU had 15 of its 25 players drafted into the Major League draft last Thursday and Friday, including two in the first round.
Over the first two innings, Allison faced the minimum of six ASU batters recording two strikeouts and allowing one hit. Catcher Danny Grubb threw out a Sun Devil attempting to steal second base.
The Bulldogs drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning. All-WAC first baseman Alan Ahmady drew a walk to lead off the inning and on the first pitch after that, sophomore right fielder Steve Detwiler hit a two-run homerun to right field off Satow to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. It was Detwiler's ninth homerun off the season and his first since May 24 when he hit one in a WAC tournament win over Hawaii.
Arizona State tied the game in the top of the third with a two-RBI triple by Greg Bordes. Jason Kipnis then singled in Bordes to give ASU a 3-2 lead. With two runners in scoring position, Allison struck-out Pac-10 Player of the Year and first round MLB selection Brett Wallace. The Sun Devils left the bases loaded as Allison got another strikeout and ground to end the inning.
The Sun Devils added two runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 5-2 lead. ASU entered the weekend series ranked fourth in the nation in batting average and runs scored.
The Bulldog regained the lead in the fourth inning with five runs on four hits. It started when Detwiler was hit by a pitch and designated hitter Jake Johnson singled to the left-centerfield gap to move Detwiler to third base. Grubb then singled to right field for his 11th RBI of the season and pulled the Dogs to within two runs 5-3. Shortstop Danny Muno, the WAC Freshman of the Year, had his second hit of the game to load the bases.
That hit, the fifth of the game to that point, took Satow out of the game. ASU head coach Pat Murphy replaced him with Stephen Sauer (4-1, 4.47 ERA), a 10th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox. After getting ahead of centerfielder Gavin Hedstrom with a 1-2 count, Hedstrom hammered the next pitch off the Packard Stadium scoreboard behind the left-center field fence for a grand slam homerun to give the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead.
It was the seventh homerun of the season for Hedstrom and ran his RBI total to 30. It was his second grand slam of the season.
Holden Sprague (4-2, 3.49 ERA) replaced Allison in the top of the fifth inning for the Bulldogs and set the Sun Devils down in fashion.
The Dogs threatened again in the fifth inning when Ahmady drew a full count walk. Mendonca singled to centerfield moving Ahmady to second. Junior Justin Wilson, Saturday's starting pitcher, replaced Johnson as designated hitter and flied out to centerfield but the ball was deep enough to allow Ahmady to tag and advance to third base.
With runners at first and third and two outs, Reyes Dorado came into the game to pitch for the Sun Devils and got them out of the jam with a ground out.
Arizona State scored one run in the top of the sixth inning to pull to within 7-6. The damage could have been worse, but Brandon Burke, Fresno State's all-time saves leader, came into the game and got ASU All-American Ike Davis to ground into a double play with two runners on to end the inning.
Burke followed that by striking out three Sun Devils in the top of the seventh inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Ahmady started a threat when he hit a hard shot off All-American third baseman Brett Wallace and reach via an error. Detwiler bunted him to second base on a sacrifice. He was stranded there.
Arizona State continued to pressure the Bulldogs, putting runners on second and third with one out in the eighth inning. After Burke got a strikeout, the Dogs intentionally walked Wallace to load the bases. Davis grounded out to Muno to end the inning.
The Dogs added another run off Arizona State pitcher Tommy Rafferty (12-0, 3.60 ERA) in the eighth inning. Overland drilled a double to center to lead off the inning. Muno singled to left for his third hit of the game and Overland moved to third base. Hedstrom then singled to bring Overland home and give the Dogs an 8-6 lead. It was a career-high fifth RBI for Hedstrom. Wetzel reach on a fielder's choice that forced Muno out at third base.
Steve Susdorf flied out to deep left field which allowed Hedstrom to advance to third base with two outs. Wetzel then stole second back uncontested. Ahmady hit a hard ball down the third base line where Wallace made a great back-handed catch and throw to barely get Ahmady at first base and end the inning.
The Sun Devils opened the top of the ninth inning with a pair of walks. A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners with one out. Ahmady then made a nice stop on a squirted ball to first base, getting the force at first and holding the runners. Burke then got the Devils to fly out to end the game and earn his 12th save of the season, a Bulldog single season record. He passed Bobby Jones (1989) for that distinction and extended his Bulldog career saves record to 23.
Temperatures on the Arizona State campus reached 104 degrees just before game time. A capacity crowd of 4,371 fans packed Packard Stadium for the second straight night.
Fresno State and Arizona State will meet again Monday at 4 p.m. in the final game of the three-game series. The game will be live on ESPN2 with Eric Collins and former Major League star Barry Larkin calling the action. The winner of the game earns an automatic berth into the College World Series in Omaha June 15-24.
2008 Super Regional Schedule
Sunday, June 8
Monday, June 9
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The Fresno State baseball team continues play at the 2008 NCAA tournament at the Super Regional in Tempe, Ariz., against No. 3 Arizona State. The Fresno State games will be broadcast live in the Valley on KMJ Radio 580 AM. Follow gobulldogs.com for further updates.