(5) Arizona State 5, (4) North Carolina 2
June 14, 2009
Calhoun homer caps Arizona St. big 10th inning in win
Updated: June 15, 2009, 12:47 AM ET
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 Texas, which beat Southern Mississippi on Sunday night. The Tar Heels (47-17) will play Southern Miss 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.
• Arizona State scored four times in the 10th inning to hand North Carolina its first opening-round CWS loss since 1989.
• Arizona State played its 12th extra-inning game all-time at the CWS, the most of any school. They are 7-5 in those games.
• After three of four starting pitchers failed to make it four innings on Saturday, UNC's Alex White and ASU's Josh Spence combined to go 16 innings and throw 253 pitches. White went nine and matched a career high with 12 strikeouts.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"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.
Merrill: Power ShiftFor much of the game, it was a pitchers' duel between ASU's Josh Spence and UNC's Alex White. One crack of the bat changed that, Elizabeth Merrill writes. Story
"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."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press