June 9, 2008
TEMPE, Ariz. - After four straight weeks on the road, the Fresno State baseball team wasn't ready to let their road trip come to a halt.
Next stop: Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium and the 2008 College World Series.
Fresno State got timely hitting against No. 3 Arizona State and battered the Sun Devil pitching staff for 17 hits in a 12-9 victory at Packard Stadium. It marked the second straight night the Dogs beat the Sun Devils, who finish the season with a 39-5 home record, 49-13 overall.
After the Sun Devils jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first, Fresno State answered with three runs in the second.
The Bulldogs would continue to answer all night long. Arizona State took a 5-4 lead into the sixth inning and the Dogs tied it and then exploded for six runs in the seventh to take an 11-5 lead. After scoring once more in the ninth for a 12-5 lead, the Dogs held off a late rally to earn a 12-9 win and Fresno State's first College World Series appearance since 1991.
"I'm happy to be a Bulldog today," said head coach Mike Batesole, who ran his 2008 postseason record to 9-2. "I'm very proud of this team and these eight seniors. This was a grind. Our guys were ground down to nothing at the end. They left everything out there on the field. It was a great performance by a great group of guys."
The Bulldogs (42-29) have won 11 of their last 13 games, and are 9-2 in postseason play counting the WAC tournament (4-0), NCAA Long Beach Regional (3-1) and Super Regional (2-1)
Fresno State junior Justin Miller (6-3, 4.62), a 15th-round pick by the Texas Rangers in last week's Major League Draft, earned the start. He made a brief appearance in Saturday's loss to the Sun Devils.
Arizona State countered with freshman Matt Newman (1-0, 4.60), a left-handed pitcher, who started for just the fourth time this season.
The Sun Devils had hat bats early in the game, scoring two runs on the three hits in the bottom of the first inning. ASU had runners on first and third base with one out, but Miller served up a ground ball that the Dogs turned into a perfectly played double play. Steve Susdorf, the WAC Player of the Year, led off the second inning with a single. First baseman Alan Ahmady followed that with a single to centerfield.
After Steve Detwiler popped up, Tommy Mendonca, Fresno State's homerun leader this season, blasted his 15th of the year over the right centerfield fence to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead. That gives him 58 RBIs on the season. Mendonca played well last weekend, earned NCAA All-Region honors in Long Beach. No. 9
Miller was sharp in the second setting the Sun Devils down with ease.
Gavin Hedstrom, Sunday's night's Bulldog hero with a grand slam homerun, led off the top of the third inning with a single. Erik Wetzel pushed him to second with a sacrifice. Susdorf then reached on an error by the second baseman and Hedstrom moved to third base. Ahmady bounce a chopper back to the mound that was tough to handle. Hedstrom raced home and beat the throw to give the Dogs a 4-2 lead.
The Sun Devils added one run in the bottom of the third on a solo homerun by All-America and first round MLB pick Brett Wallace. Fresno State led 4-3 at that point.
Grubb drilled a one-out single in the fourth inning, his second hit of the game. Muno drew a walk after an 0-2 count and Grubb advanced to second. It was the 48th walk of the season, most in the WAC. Hedtrom attempting to bunt was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
The Sun Devils then switch pitchers, bringing All-America first baseman Ike Davis in to pitch. He got Wetzel to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Arizona State added another solo homerun to lead off the fourth inning to tie the game 4-4. Jason Breckley (2-2, 7.89 ERA) replaced Miller with two runners on and one out in the inning. He got Ryan Sontag to fly out to left on a hit and run play to force the second out of the inning. After walking a Sun Devil to load the bases, Breckley faced Wallace and got him to line out to first base as Ahmady made a tremendous diving catch that ended the inning.
After going down in the count 0-2, Ahmady laced a double down the left field line The next Bulldogd, Detwiler was hit by a pitch. Freshman Nick Hom made his first appearance of the Super Regional as a pinch hitter for Wilson. Davis got Hom on a ground out to halt the Bulldog threat.
The Dogs didn't score in the fourth or fifth innings while leaving five base runners.
Junior Holden Sprague (5-2, 3.55) entered to pitch in the fifth inning for the Bulldogs. After getting the first two Sun Devils out on just five pitches, Newman hit his second homerun of the game to give ASU a 5-4 lead. The Sun Devils loaded the bases with a single and consecutive walks, then Sprague got a ground ball out to Ahmady to end the inning.
Grubb reached base for the third straight time when Bordes made an error at shortstop. Hedstrom reached on a fielder's choice that forced Grubb out at second base. Wetzel reached on an error by Wallace and Hedstrom moved to second base.
Susdorf added to his Bulldog record RBI total with a hard single to center field that scored Hedstrom and Wetzel moved to third. That tied the score 5-5.
It was the 209th RBI if his brilliant career and chased Davis from the game. Mike Leake, who won the opening game for ASU, replaced him on the mound and got out if the inning.
Junior pitcher Kris Tomlinson (1-1, 7.56), a native of Visalia, Calif., entered the game for the Bulldogs in the sixth inning and was brilliant, setting down the 2-3-4 ASU hitters, with two strikeouts, including Davis to end the inning.
Mendonca was hit by Leake with one out in the top of the seventh inning. Jordan Ribera, Fresno State's designated hitter in the opening game of the Super Regional, entered as a pinch hitter and drew a walk. Grubb chopped a ball between third base and the pitcher's mound where Leake fielded it but couldn't make a play anywhere. That loaded the bases for the second time in four innings for the Dogs.
Hedstrom got hit by Leake to bring in Mendonca and give the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead.
Wetzel, who was determined not to leave base runners on his at bat, cleared them with a double down the right field line to give the Dogs 9-5 lead. Easily scoring on the play were Mendonca, Ribera and Hedstrom.
Steve Susorf then took a Leake fastball over the centerfield fence for a two-run homerun that extended the Dogs' lead to 11-5. It was his 37th career homerun giving him sole possession of third place in the Bulldog record books. That also moved him into 10th place in WAC history for most career hits (289).
Batesole was especially pleased for Susdorf, by-passed signing with the Detriot Tigers last year to return to school with the goal of reaching the College World Series.
"Having been around me, most of you know I don't like to single out individual players," said Batesole. "This is a team game. But Steve Susdorf is a special young man. From the time he stepped foot on our campus he's represented himself and our program with class. He's a great student and obviously a great player."
The Sun Devils battled like one would expect from the nation's No. 3 ranked team, putting runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sophomore pitcher Sean Bonesteele came in and struckout Kiel Roling and Raoul Torres and got Bordes to ground out to end the inning.
The Dogs were again on the attack in the eighth inning, when Grubb set a career-high with his fourth hit of the game with two outs that was followed by an infield single by Muno. Torres made a diving grab of a Hedstrom hard line shot to get the Sun Devils out of the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, again ASU put two batters on base. Bonesteele got Davis to pop up to Muno and then Paramore grounded out to Muno to end the inning.
The Dogs added one more in the ninth and held off the Sun Devils, who scored four in the bottom half of the inning before Brandon Burke slammed the door and ended the Sun Devil's run for a second straight trip to Omaha.
It was a hot day at Packard Stadium, with a game time temperature of 108 degrees.
Fresno State will play No. 6 seed Rice in the first round on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. That game will be on ESPN. The College World Series runs June 14-24 in Omaha.
2008 Super Regional Schedule
Sunday, June 8
Monday, June 9
The Fresno State team will return to Beiden Field on Tuesday, June 10, at 9:30 a.m.
Fans, media and well-wishers are invited to meet the team.
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The Fresno State baseball team advances to the 2008 College World Series in Omaha, Nebr., June 14-24. The Fresno State games will be broadcast live in the Valley on KMJ Radio 580 AM. Follow gobulldogs.com for further updates.