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June 6, 2008

SCS.comArizona State, the #3 national seed, swept their home regional in Tempe the past weekend while Fresno State battled and came out on top as the 4 seed in what many say was the toughest regional in the tournament field. This weekend at Packard Stadium, home of the Sun Devils, ASU and Fresno State will play with the winner of the three game series moving on to Omaha for the College World Series. According to Fresno State’s website, the Bulldogs are believed to be the first ever 4 seed to advance to the Super Regionals. The Sun Devils have made the trip to Omaha 20 times in their history while Fresno State has advanced 3 times, with their last appearance being in 1991. In Tempe this weekend beginning on Saturday, Arizona State and Fresno State will play for a shot at getting to Omaha.



Pat Murphy’s club (48-11) swept their regional in Tempe, beating Stony Brook 9-7 on Friday night and then crushing Oklahoma both times by scores of 15-3 and 12-0 to advance to the Super Regionals. Fresno State (40-28) had a tougher path as they won their opening contest against 1 seed Long Beach State 7-3 before shutting out 2 seed San Diego by a score of 6-0. The Bulldogs lost their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday to San Diego 15-1 before playing San Diego one more time and beating the Toreros 5-1 on Monday night, sending them to the Super Regionals. The Sun Devils are the overwhelming favorite in this match-up and have everything to lose while the Bulldogs of Fresno State have nothing to lose and will lay it all on the line this weekend. The Tempe Super Regional can be seen on TV starting on Saturday on ESPNU with the other two games being shown on Sunday and Monday (if necessary) on ESPN2.


Packard Stadium in Tempe will host the Super Regional this weekend between Arizona State and Fresno State. The Sun Devils have quite a home field advantage, as they are now 38-3 at Packard Stadium this year after last weekend’s regional sweep. Packard Stadium is known as one of the most beautiful ballparks in the nation, as from anywhere in the stadium one can see the desert and mountains beyond the outfield wall.


Starting Pitching
Arizona State has had solid starting pitching throughout their year, with their team ERA at 4.51 on the season, while Fresno State has had to deal with the loss of their ace due to injury for the past month. Arizona State has the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year in Mike Leake (10-2, 3.12 ERA) and has a number two in Josh Satow (9-3, 4.58 ERA) that can be dominant at times. Their third starter is never particularly known, but is usually a Sun Devil that can keep the team in the game, as ASU’s record on the year is 48-11. Like mentioned earlier, Fresno State is without their ace pitcher Tanner Scheppers due to injury, but found a way to win the tough Long Beach regional last weekend. Justin Wilson (7-4, 4.17 ERA), Clayton Allison (3-5, 3.74 ERA), and Holden Sprague (4-2, 3.49 ERA) will likely be the three starters this weekend for the Bulldogs in Tempe.
Advantage: Arizona State
The Sun Devils have the best lineup in the nation as seen with their team batting average of .341 on the year. With Brett Wallace (.414, 21 HR, 81 RBI), Ike Davis (.394, 16 HR, 73 RBI), Jason Kipnis (.363, 14 HR, 69 RBI), Petey Paramore (.361, 7 HR, 49 RBI), and Kiel Roling (.344, 8 HR, 50 RBI), Arizona State is nearly impossible to pitch against. Fresno State has a pretty offense with Alan Ahmady (.382, 12 HR, 81 RBI), Steve Susdorf (.342, 10 HR, 77 RBI), and Tommy Mendonca (.278, 14 HR, 55 RBI), but it’s no where close to that of the Sun Devils. The Bulldogs’ team batting average on the year is .297.
Advantage: Arizona State
Out of the Pen
Arizona State has a pretty good bullpen with two good relievers while Fresno State has a problem with their pitching depth in the bullpen. When one looks at Tommy Rafferty’s numbers (12-0, 3.65 ERA), they would think he’s a starter. But his 4 saves on the year shows he’s one of the best pitchers out of the bullpen in the nation. Ike Davis, who is the Sun Devils’ DH, also shares closer duties with Rafferty, and boasts a 2.53 ERA on the season to go with a 4-1 record and 4 saves. For Fresno State, their closer Brandon Burke (3.08 ERA, 11 saves) seems to be one of their only solid guys out of the pen.
Advantage: Arizona State
Pat Murphy, the ASU skipper, is known as one of the best coaches in the nation. In his tenure with the Sun Devils, Murphy has led his club to Omaha three times (1998, 2005, 2007). It’s his reputation as a coach that makes Murphy one of the nation’s best as his teams are known to play hard and never give up. Mike Batesole is in his sixth year as Fresno State head coach, and in the past three years his Bulldogs have won the WAC title all three times.
Advantage: Arizona State
Both the Sun Devils and Bulldogs have the intangibles that a team playing in the Super Regionals are known to have. Arizona State has had many comebacks this year due to how hard it is for opposing teams to pitch against them as they have the best lineup in the nation. ASU is 38-3 at Packard Stadium this year, so beating them in Tempe is near impossible. For Fresno State, all one has to do is look at their victory in the Long Beach regional to see how the Bulldogs do against very good teams. Fresno State first beat Long Beach State, the hosts, before beating San Diego, a team that was in the top 10 all season long, twice to advance to the Super Regionals.
Advantage: Arizona State


The Super Regional in Tempe this weekend showcases the #3 national seed in Arizona State and the cinderella in 4 seed Fresno State. The Sun Devils easily won their home regional while Fresno State had to battle to win what was the toughest regional in the NCAA Tournament. Like mentioned many times, ASU is almost impossible to beat in the Valley of the Sun as they’re 38-3 at home this year. But Fresno State does seem like a team that could go into someone else’s ballpark and pull off the upset as they did last week in Long Beach.
The Sun Devils have a handful of players that have professional careers ahead of them and for that reason they are the huge favorite in this Super Regional. With Wallace, Davis, and Kipnis at the plate and Leake and Rafferty on the mound, ASU is one of the best teams in the nation. But ASU can’t overlook Fresno State at all, as they did win a regional last weekend that had three top 20 teams in it. The Bulldogs have had success against good teams recently, but beating ASU at Packard Stadium twice is a near impossible task. Look for the Sun Devils to advance to Omaha for the 21st time in their history.


Eddie Jason Jimmy Jonathan
Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State

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