June 2, 2013
FULLERTON, Calif. - Center fielder Kasey Coffman hit a home run on the first pitch of the game and the Arizona State University baseball team carried that momentum to a 10-5 win over Columbia on Sunday in an elimination game at the Fullerton Regional in Fullerton, Calif.
Third baseman Michael Benjamin and second baseman James McDonald buoyed the Sun Devils' offense with three RBI apiece, and Coffman and designated hitter Nate Causey each hit home runs as ASU scored 10 runs on just five hits.
Right-hander Alex Blackford (5-1) earned the win after allowing just two runs on five hits in 3 1/3 relief innings. He recorded three strikeouts and issued just one walk as he earned his first win in three postseason appearances.
Coffman's leadoff home run over the fence in right-center field put ASU up by one early, and after conceding their advantage in the bottom of the frame, the Devils broke out six runs in the third and never relinquished the lead.
McDonald, Benjamin and Causey each drove in a pair of runs on a single, double and a home run, respectively, as ASU not only retook the lead in the third, but also gave itself a five-run cushion, 7-2. The first three batters of the inning reached on two walks and a hit-by-pitch before Benjamin's two-run double put ASU up by one. McDonald followed with a two-run single and Causey cleared the bases two batters later with a two-run home run.
Columbia responded to Coffman's home run with a two-run double by designated hitter Joey Falcone in the bottom of the first and erased the Devils' advantage, 2-1.
ASU then worked itself out of bases-loaded situations in both the second and third innings, first by starting right-hander Zak Miller and then by Blackford. Miller walked three in the bottom of the second before inducing a groundout to keep the Lions off the board, and again loaded the bases in the third after conceding a run. Blackford replaced Miller with two outs in the frame and got catcher Mike Fischer to strike out looking.
The Devils tacked on three more in the top of the third as Benjamin took a bases-loaded walk, while McDonald and catcher Max Rossiter drove in runs on a fielder's choice and a groundout, respectively, to extend their lead, 10-3.
The Lions scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single to make it a five-run game, but Blackford and a trio of relievers combined to throw four scoreless innings to close out the game.
Miller went 2 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on five hits in a no-decision.
Left-hander Matt Dunbar allowed one hit and a walk in the seventh, right-hander Josh McAlister gave up one hits and struck out one in the eighth and right-hander Darin Gillies tossed a perfect ninth to seal the win.
Lions starting right-hander Stefan Olson (1-2) took the loss after conceding six runs on three hits.
Coffman also led off ASU's game against Gonzaga on March 3 with a home run...Dunbar is now tied for the fourth-most appearances in a single season in school history (Chuck Crumpton, 1998)...Coffman hit his eighth home run of the season, including his second to lead off a game...McAlister also pitched one inning against Charlotte in ASU's 2011 regional game...Blackford appeared in two games in the 2010 postseason.
Head coach Tim Esmay: 11-5 all-time in the postseason, including 8-1 in regional play
Against Columbia: 1-0
ASU is 7-0 in Regionals since 2003 when winning the first game of the Regional
* Postseason appearance and victories in 2007 later vacated due to NCAA sanctions. Numbers do not reflect vacations.
ASU will face No. 5 Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at 8 p.m. PT in the first championship game of the Fullerton Regional. The game will be televised on ESPNU and will be also broadcast by the MidFirst Bank Sun Devil IMG Network on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 and on the All-Access Player on thesundevils.com.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Game 3: 4 p.m. PT - Columbia 6, New Mexico 5 (13)
Game 4: 9:45 p.m. PT - No. 5 Cal State Fullerton 1, Arizona State 0
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Game 5: 4 p.m. PT - Arizona State 10, Columbia 5
Game 6: 8 p.m. PT - No. 5 Cal State Fullerton vs. Arizona State
Monday, June 3, 2013
*Game 7: 8 p.m. PT - *If necessary
All games on ESPNU/ESPN3
Road to Omaha | NCAA.com
Regionals: May 31-June 3 in Fullerton, Calif. Four-teams, double elimination (ESPN family of networks)
Super Regionals (best-of-three series): June 7-10 on eight campus sites. Two teams, best-of-three format (ESPN family of networks)
CWS: Omaha, Neb., June 15-26 (ESPN family of networks)