Tigers 4, (5) Sun Devils 7
June 6, 2009
Ramirez powers Arizona State past Clemson
Updated: June 7, 2009, 1:31 AM ET
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mike Leake's final home game at Arizona State wasn't his best, just his most important -- and he was good enough.
Leake, the NCAA leader with 16 victories, scrapped through eight innings and got clutch support from his offense as the Sun Devils beat Clemson 7-4 in their super regional opener.
"I got too amped up, too emotional," said the junior right-hander, expected to go high in Tuesday's draft. "I kept giving up the lead and they kept getting it for me. They kept battling. They won this game, really."
Coach Pat Murphy lauded the pitcher's performance, though, noting that the team played some shaky defense behind him early. Leake (16-1) allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits. The three earned runs matched a season high. He struck out seven and walked one.
"He gutted it out," Murphy said. "To win 16 games as a college junior, to win your 40th game at Arizona State, in the Pac-10, playing the non-league schedule that we play, what do you say?"
Carlos Ramirez singled three times and drove in three runs for the Sun Devils.
After the Tigers rallied from two down to tie it, Matt Newman doubled off the center-field fence to bring home Ramirez for the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. Ramirez's bases-loaded single brought in two more in the eighth as the Sun Devils (48-12), seeded fifth nationally, won for the 15th time in 16 games.
"Ramirez's three hits were clutch, clutch, clutch, especially that last one. It changed the game," Murphy said. "Newman, who hadn't been swinging the bat the way and is really talented and really capable, had a huge hit."
The last six of Arizona State's runs came with two outs.
"Two runs are never good," Clemson starter Casey Harman said. "That's something that we preach and I just wasn't getting the job done with two outs. It's frustrating, but we've got to move on from it."
Pac-10 player of the year Jason Kipnis homered and made a sliding, shoestring catch at the fence in center field that saved a run for Arizona State.
"He's been doing that all year," Leake said of Kipnis' catch. "I was expecting it."
Third baseman Raoul Torrez also had a big defensive play late in the game for Arizona State. Freshman left-hander Mitchell Lambson pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save.
Chris Epps drove in three runs with a pair of singles for Clemson, including a two-run hit that tied it at 4 in the seventh.
"He's a good pitcher, keeps the ball down, has a hard slider," Epps said of Leake. "I was looking for a pitch up, hoping he would make a mistake and just capitalize on his mistake. He rarely makes mistakes, so when he does, you have to capitalize on it."
Graham Stoneburner (7-4) took the loss in relief of Harman, allowing three runs on four hits in two innings.
Clemson, which came back from an early loss to win its regional, can take heart in the fact that a year ago at the super regional in Tempe, Arizona State beat Fresno State in the opener, then lost the next two. Fresno State went on to win the college World Series.
"We're aware of that," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We've been in this situation before. So we've got to just make the momentum swing our way tomorrow."
Murphy brushed aside any thoughts of what happened a year ago.
"That was last year. Who cares?" he said. "Last year is over with. We can't worry about last year. We'll worry about today."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press