Sun Devils rally past defending champs


Editor's note: Baseball America contacted college coaches familiar with the 16 Super Regional teams for analysis. Anonymity was granted in exchange for their candor.

Fullerton Super Regional

Arizona State (39-23) at Cal State Fullerton (46-18)
At Goodwin Field
Fullerton, Calif.

Friday, June 10
Cal State Fullerton 3, Arizona State 2
Saturday, June 11
Arizona State 6, Cal State Fullerton 2
Sunday, June 12
Arizona State 9, Cal State Fullerton 8
Arizona State (39-23) advances to College World Series

Arizona State Sun Devils
CWS History: 18 trips to Omaha (last in 1998), five titles (last in 1981).
Coach: Pat Murphy (11th season)
How They Got Here: Won the Tempe, Ariz., regional in three games, beating Coastal Carolina in the final.

Scouting the Sun Devils:

Arizona State is the least impressive team of the three Pac-10 teams left. They don't have the arms of USC or Oregon State. They're very good at home, but they could scuffle on road. Still, they do a little bit of everything and have power and speed.

The pitchers throw strikes, but are not overwhelming. We played close games and those guys pitched with pressure and made quality pitches with runners in scoring position. Averill is very average with a fastball at 86-87 mph and a change. If you have the right plan, you can get to Averill quick because he doesn't throw a good breaking ball. Averill does have the ability to pitch to the circumstance, force contact with a lead or pitch around a guy with a base open. The best guy is Urquidez. He's experienced, has a good slider and was the Pac-10 pitcher of the year last year. But this is not super regional pitching.

Buck and Larish can hurt you bad. Larish can hit the long ball and you almost want to walk him late in games because he can end it with one swing. Buck is their best player. He's legit. He can hit lefties and can hit even the best fastballs. This is a predominantly left-handed lineup and a good left-hander really shuts them down. And since they're getting Cal State Fullerton left-handers Ryan Schreppel and Ricky Romero, say good night.

Gosewisch is an experienced catcher and I like him. He's headstrong, runs the game and calls all the pitches. I think the underrated player is the second baseman, Seth Dhaenens. He's a nice player. Joey Hooft is very average at third. J.J. Sferra is a good little freshman who can go get everything in center. These guys like to run a lot. You can try as many pickoff attempts as you like, but it can make it easier for them to pick their spots to steal. It seems like right after you try to pick them off, they go. They all ran well. The pressure stays on you.

Cal State Fullerton Titans
CWS History: 13 trips to Omaha (last in 2004), four titles (last in 2004).
Coach: George Horton (ninth season)
How They Got Here: Won the Fullerton, Calif., regional in five games, beating Arizona in the final.

Scouting the Titans:

Right now, something's going on with the Titans. It's magical. I hate to say it, but I knew they would come out and beat Arizona twice in the regional to advance. It's that experience that defines them. They're so well prepared. Even if they get beat, it doesn't faze them. They're ready the next day.

They pressure you with small ball. They force you to prove you can field a bunt and execute. Teams that don't handle that well will fold. They have smart baserunners that pressure you by taking the extra base or jumping when a pitch hits the dirt. If you get the leadoff hitter out, they're a different offensive team.

Pedroza and Pill are solid in the middle. Both are susceptible to the slider, but if you leave a flat one, Pill will kill it. There's not a lot of holes in the lineup, but left-handers can create some problems. San Diego State lefty Ben Coon gave them some troubles. A right-hander needs a real good changeup to keep the lefties honest.

I've heard Romero's velocity has dropped a little, but he was the best pitcher in college when we faced him. He was 92 and spotting up like crazy and he has a good curveball. Romero was most intense guy we saw. Sarver is a solid lefty who throws strikes, and now with Schreppel back, they are even stronger.

If you get the starter out early, I wonder what they have in the pen. Wes Roemer could be that guy out of pen if he doesn't start. He can be used in so many different ways, and he's the trump card. He's a sinkerballer to mix with those powerful lefties. Sinker in, slider away and guys are bailing out to cheat on the two-seamer. For a freshman like Roemer to show the poise of a veteran is a credit to how they run things.

Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.