Calhoun's homer keys ASU's win over Carolina|Texas tops Southern Miss

Published 1:55 am Monday, June 15, 2009

By Staff
ERIC OLSONAP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. — After Arizona State's Josh Spence and North Carolina's Alex White tangled in a rare College World Series pitchers' duel, a bad break for the Tar Heels and a good swing of the bat by Kole Calhoun decided the outcome.
Calhoun's three-run homer off Brian Moran in the top of the 10th inning, after Carolina right fielder Garrett Gore's error led to the go-ahead run, carried the Sun Devils to a 5-2 victory Sunday in a game that left ASU coach Pat Murphy shaking his head.
"How many games do you strike out 14 times, get picked off twice, make an error and still win? Pretty lucky," Murphy said.
ASU (50-12) plays Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday night's Southern Mississippi-Texas game. The Tar Heels (47-17) will play the Southern Miss-Texas loser in a Bracket 2 elimination game the same day.
Things finally broke open for the Sun Devils after Jason Kipnes reached when Gore misplayed his one-out fly ball near the warning track. The ball nicked Gore's glove and dropped. Carlos Ramirez followed with a base hit up the middle, scoring Drew Maggi from second to break a 1-1 tie.
Calhoun, who had grounded out to the mound his first three at-bats and struck out looking on his fourth, sent Moran's 1-1 pitch four rows into the stands in left-center field for a four-run lead.
"I wanted a better at-bat than the last four, and that wasn't hard to do," Calhoun said. "Murph told me to take what he gives me and hit it into left center. Fortunately, it got up in the air and got out of here."
White, who went nine innings in his fourth CWS start, matched his career-high with 12 strikeouts. The Cleveland Indians' first-round draft pick was touched for three doubles in the first two innings, but he allowed only four singles the rest of the way in his 131 pitches.
"Cleveland's got a good one," Murphy said. "Every big situation we had, he turned it up a notch. You knew you were in a fight with someone who was pretty special. That's why Cleveland needs to pay him even more than they set out to pay him."
Spence allowed eight singles over seven innings. The Los Angeles Angels' third-round pick walked three and struck out eight in his 122-pitch outing, then gave way to lefty Mitchell Lambson (9-3) in the eighth.
Lambson gloved Gore's hard liner and threw to first to double up Levi Michael, ending the eighth. He caught Dustin Ackley looking at a pitch on the inside corner just above his knees to end the ninth and struck out Mark Fleury and Gore to end the game.
Faced with the choice of starting Spence or Cincinnati Reds first-round pick Mike Leake, Murphy went with the Australian lefty because Carolina's lineup has six left-handed batters.
"Brilliance on my part," a smiling Murphy said.
Spence and Lambson stymied a Carolina offense that had been batting .400 in the NCAA tournament, 99 points above its regular-season mark of .301. The Heels came in averaging 10 runs in the postseason and had scored 45 in the previous four games.
Ackley, taken second overall by the Seattle Mariners last week, went 2 for 5 and extended his postseason hitting streak to 20 games.
Moran, the Tar Heels' All-Atlantic Coast Conference reliever, struggled against the Sun Devils after having allowed just five runs in his previous 31 innings.
Colin Bates (4-3), who faced one batter in the 10th, took the loss, but Moran was clearly off his game when the Tar Heels needed him most.
"He got the ball up on the home run," Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "He didn't look like he had the life he usually has. The home run shocked him a little bit."
Carolina won its CWS opener each of the past three years but now finds itself one game from elimination.
"Just a tough loss," White said. "The good thing is that we get to play again."
Bases-loaded walk gives Texas 7-6 win over USM
OMAHA, Neb. — Texas coach Augie Garrido often says baseball is a cruel game.
Don't the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles know it. Oh, how they know it.
Jonathan Johnston walked Brandon Loy on four pitches with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Texas a 7-6 win in the College World Series on Sunday night.
"It's just the way baseball treats people sometimes. It's a brutal game," he said. "Being in this environment for the first time created some nerves that turned into fear and eventually was the demise of an otherwise courageous team."
The Longhorns' final three runs scored on bases-loaded walks. Of Texas' last 11 batters, six walked and one was hit by a pitch.
"That's a tough way to lose," Southern Miss coach Corky Palmer said. "I'd rather have someone hit a grand slam."
The Golden Eagles' dismal pitching performance in their Omaha debut spoiled an otherwise gutty performance against the No. 1-seeded Longhorns. Of the 171 pitches thrown by five USM pitchers, just 94 were strikes. They walked nine.
"Our players played like I thought they would on the big stage. I thought there were no nerves and we handled everything well," Palmer said. "We just didn't throw strikes at the end. We really didn't throw strikes all night long."
Texas (47-14-1), in the CWS for a record 33rd time, moves on to a Tuesday game against Arizona State. Southern Miss (40-25) will try to stay alive against North Carolina in a Bracket 2 elimination game the same day.
The Longhorns got all they could handle against USM. They could never settle in against the Eagles, who came into the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 regional seed.
Southern Miss tied it at 6 in the top of the ninth on James Ewing's single off Taylor Jungmann (9-3), who had taken over for a struggling Austin Wood. They couldn't finish, though.
Palmer, who talked about his lack of pitching depth in the days before the CWS, realized his worst fears in the bottom of the ninth.
Johnston relieved Fields (2-1) with one out and runners on first and second. The side-arming Johnston struck out Tant Shepherd, but then he imploded. He threw only one strike on his final eight pitches.
When Johnston missed inside on the last pitch, the Longhorns rushed out of their dugout to greet Loy, his arms raised, after he touched first base.
Realizing Southern Miss was melting down, Garrido ordered Loy to take two strikes before swinging away.
Loy's bat never left his shoulder.
Southern Miss rallied for three runs against Wood, the Longhorns' star closer, in a crazy eighth inning in which the Eagles take a 5-4 lead.
Texas entered the eighth up by two runs after Russell Moldenhauer hit his first home run of the season to break a sixth-inning tie.
Wood came on after starter Cole Green gave up a leadoff double to pinch hitter Adam Doleac. Nick Smith, who pinch ran for Doleac, scored on a wild pitch after Taylor Walker's infield single. Wood walked Ewing, and pinch hitter Brian Dozier reached on catcher's interference to load the bases. It was the first catcher's interference call at the CWS since 1981.
The tying run came home when Wood missed outside on a full count to Corey Stevens. The Eagles went ahead when Joey Archer grounded to third and Michael Torres bounced his throw home trying for the forceout. Catcher Cameron Rupp couldn't hold on to the ball as Ewing slid in safely.
Texas loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth against Scott Copeland and Collin Cargill, with Cargill walking Brandon Loy to bring in the tying run. Fields came on to strike out Cameron Rupp, but then walked pinch hitter Kevin Lusson to make it 6-5 Texas.
"Tonight's game was kind of sloppy on both sides, really, as far as pitching goes," Ewing said. "We didn't play well enough to win tonight. They played just a little bit better than we did and that was the difference in the game."