Murphy keeps Sun Devils loose, in winners' bracket

Originally Published: June 16, 2007
By Elizabeth Merrill | ESPN.com

OMAHA, Neb. -- He cracks jokes, sings, and gathers wisdom from Bruce Springsteen songs.

With Pat Murphy in the dugout, how could the Arizona State baseball team not be loose?

Roughly 45 minutes after his Sun Devils held off UC Irvine 5-4 at the College World Series on Saturday, Murphy grabbed a microphone -- which was mercifully off -- and belted out "No Surrender" as the last reporters straggled of the postgame press conference. Murphy is big on the Boss. He has a drawerful of T-shirts with Springsteen songs on them, and wore "It's Hard to be a Saint in the City" Saturday.

"Some people read the philosophies of Plato," Murphy said. "I read Springsteen. His lyrics are unbelievable."

"I'm on Fire" would've been a more appropriate tune for Saturday as temperatures soared into the 90s when the first pitch was delivered. By the fourth inning, UC Irvine ace Scott Gorgen turned to his coach, Dave Serrano, and said he was having trouble breathing. And it wasn't because of the heat.

Gorgen was uncharacteristically jittery, and said he wasn't fully prepared to walk out on the mound with 19,638 people watching. It showed in the second inning, when he walked two batters, then gave up a three-run homer to Matt Spencer.

The Anteaters were making their first College World Series appearance, but so was Sun Devils pitcher Mike Leake. The boyish looking freshman scattered six hits in seven innings, struck out three and walked none.

Around the sixth inning, Leake told Murphy he was tired but he could keep pitching. He held the Anteaters scoreless his final two innings. Jason Jarvis entered in the eighth, with the game tied at 4. He threw two no-hit innings and struck out three.

Pat Murphy
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesPat Murphy serenaded reporters after Arizona State's win.
Murphy calls him "Never Nervous Jervis."

"Jarvis didn't even know what inning it was," Murphy said. "He said, 'Is this the last inning?' No, we've got two more. There's a scoreboard back there, Jason. Check that out."

Ike Davis broke the tie by crushing a home run to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning. Gorgen said he threw his best change up of the day to Davis, and he thought Davis sat on it.

Davis said he was sitting on a fast ball.

All Murphy knew was that the Sun Devils were in a familiar position: the winners' bracket of the College World Series. He wouldn't allow himself to think about whether this team was ready to make a run at its first national championship since 1981; he didn't want to ponder whether this is his best team ever at Arizona State.

So he quoted a verse from "Badlands," told a few jokes and wandered off to tomorrow.

"Poor men wanna be rich, rich men wanna be king," he said. "And a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything."

Elizabeth Merrill writes for ESPN.com. She can be reached at merrill2323@hotmail.com.

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