Matt Newman’s two out RBI double broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh and ASU held on from there to take game one of the super regional 7-4 over Clemson in front of 4,381 at Packard Stadium.
Leake picked up his NCAA best 16th win of the season by working eight innings and allowing just three earned runs. The victory was Leake’s 40th of his career which ties him with Eddie Bane for the most wins in ASU history by a three year pitcher.
After Leake worked 1-2-3 through the first inning, Pac 10 Player of the Year Jason Kipnis got ASU (48-12) on the board with his 16th home run of the season off of Tiger starter Casey Harman. It could have been a two-run home run, but after leading off the inning with a single, Drew Maggi was picked off first right before Kipnis’ shot to right center.
The Tigers (44-21) tied the game up off of Leake in the top of the third. Freshman shortstop Brad Miller led off with a single up the middle for the first Tiger hit of the game and after a strikeout, Matt Sanders also sent a hit back up the middle. Chris Epps tied the game at 1-1 with another single back through the box to score Miller. Leake worked out with no further damage by getting a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Clemson took the lead on an unearned run in the fifth inning. Kyle Parker reached on a throwing error by shortstop Drew Maggi to start the inning and after a strikeout, stole second base. John Nester then reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners for Matt Sanders. The senior hit a groundball to second that Zack MacPhee fielded and flipped to Maggi for an out at second, but Sanders beat the relay throw to allow Parker to score and make it 2-1 Tigers.
Devils offense immediately responded by getting a pair of runs to grab the lead in the bottom half of the fifth. Zack MacPhee walked with one out in the inning and moved up to second on a passed ball by Clemson catcher John Nester. Drew Maggi then reached on an infield single, but Kipnis flew out to left for the second out.
Carlos Ramirez then picked up what was one of a few clutch two-out hits by ASU on Saturday with a single to left to plate MacPhee and tie the game at 2-2. Kole Calhoun followed right after Ramirez with a single to right that brought home Maggi to make it 3-2 Devils.
More clutch two-out offense led the Devils to pick up another run in the sixth inning. After a double play looked to kill the inning for ASU, Johnny Ruettiger kept the inning alive with a single to right center and a stolen base that put him in scoring position. Ruettiger was on the move again with Zack MacPhee at the plate and MacPhee hit a chopper to third that third baseman Matt Sanders tried to throw home, but the throw was high allowing Ruettiger to score and make it 4-2.
Clemson wouldn’t die easy against the All-American Leake and they fought back to tie the game in the 7th. Brad Miller reached on an infield single to lead off the inning and scampered to third on a double by Nester. Leake got Matt Sanders to pop out to first for the first out of the inning and had Chris Epps 0-2, but the scrappy Epps fought back and singled to right scoring Miller and Nester and tied the score at 4-4.
With Clemson starter Casey Harman exiting after Ruettiger’s hustle run, the Tigers had the ball in sophomore Graham Stoneburner’s hand. The righty got Kipnis to line out for the first out of the seventh, but Carlos Ramirez singled to right to give ASU the go ahead run on base. Ramirez moved up to second on a groundout by Calhoun, setting up Matt Newman for his heroics.
The sophomore right fielder lifted a two out double to center that brought around Ramirez to score the eventual winning run to put ASU up 5-4.
Leake took the ball back after Newman gave him the lead and needed just six pitches to work a quick 1-2-3 through the Clemson eighth. His last pitch was a fitting way to end his illustrious career at Packard Stadium, it was a pitch that struck out Kyle Parker for Leake’s seventh strikeout of the evening.
ASU got important insurance runs with more clutch hitting in the eighth. With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Ramirez singled to left to bring in two and ASU led 7-4.
Freshman All-American Mitchell Lambson took over for Leake for the ninth and worked around a two out single to pitch a scoreless inning to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Ramirez led the ASU offense with three hits and three runs driven in. Drew Maggi also had three hits and scored two runs at the top of the Sun Devil lineup. Matt Newman finished 2-4, including the game winning double.
The 2 through 6 hitters in the Clemson lineup finished a woeful 1-19 (.053) on Saturday, while the 7, 8, 9 and leadoff hitter went 8-17 (.471).
The Devils will give the ball to Josh Spence (8-1, 2.37 ERA) tomorrow and the lefty will try to lead ASU back to the College World Series. Trying to force a decisive Game 3 on Monday will be Clemson freshman Chris Dwyer (5-5, 4.85 ERA). The Tigers will be the home team for Game 2, which gets under way at 7PM on ESPN2.