Early Lead Holds Up As Milwaukee Falls To #1 Arizona State, 6-2
June 4, 2010
TEMPE, Ariz. - Defense was the star of the show for both teams Friday night in the NCAA Tournament, as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team lost to Arizona State, 6-2, in game one of the Tempe Regional at Packard Stadium. The Panthers (33-25) could not overcome a quick start by the Sun Devils (48-8) and will now play San Diego in their next game Saturday afternoon.
"Obviously, we went up against a very good team - they do not hand out the number one ranking for nothing," UWM head coach Scott Doffek said. "I thought we played very relaxed on defense and it actually kept us in the game. I think they made three or four outs on the bases - Shaun Wegner did a really good job. What I was thinking was, against a team like this, against a pitcher like this, you have to take advantage of opportunities. And, we didn't do a great job of that. We really would have liked to see a big two-out hit there [in the first inning] to bust it open a little bit."
Milwaukee scored a run in the top of the first, but ASU responded with two in the second and three more in the third inning to forge ahead, 5-1, and then held off the Panthers from there. Strong defense by both teams highlighted the contest, as several spectacular plays were made on both sides to limit the scoring in the game.
Arizona State, which came in as the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and ranked No. 1 in the USA Today and Collegiate Baseball polls, extended it's winning streak in regional games at Packard Stadium to 16 in a row in front of a sellout crowd of 4,371.
The Panthers set the tone early and let the Sun Devils know they came to play. Senior Shaun Wegner singled with one out in the first and after two ASU errors, UWM had the bases loaded and just one out. A chopper to first off the bat of sophomore Paul Hoenecke plated the first run, but ASU starter Merrill Kelly (10-2) limited the damage by getting the final out.
In the bottom of the first inning, junior Doug Dekoning made a diving play in center field to record the second out and Wegner picked off a runner to keep the momentum on Milwaukee's side.
The Sun Devils, who came into the game batting .340 as a team, put a pair of rallies together in the second and third to take control. Deven Marrero doubled in a pair in the second and Kole Calhoun came through with the big hit in the third, a home run to right field that scored three runs, gave ASU the 5-1 lead, and proved to be the difference in the game.
Milwaukee would put runners on base, but was not able to scratch another run across until the seventh when senior Dan Buchholz doubled in a run.
In the fifth, UWM had two runners on when Dekoning singled and freshman Jonathan Capasso walked, but Kelly got a ground ball and strike out to end it. In the sixth, Buchholz was thrown out on a great play from the hole at short for the first out. Following a walk, Zack MacPhee started a twin-killing with a spectacular play at second, back-handing a ball and spinning to start the double play and end the rally.
Junior Chad Pierce (7-5) started the game, but allowed the first five runs and was relieved in the fourth inning. Senior Jeff Gordon came on and pitched very well, allowing just one run on three hits over the next four innings. Sophomore Greg Blohowiak pitched a scoreless ninth as well.
"The coaches asked if I could do it, but I lobbied for the ball," Pierce said. "I felt good, just my mechanics - I was rushing down and leaving balls up. Against a club like this, if you leave balls up, this is what is going to happen. I didn't give our team a chance to win and luckily, our defense kept us in the ballgame. Five runs in three innings is just not good enough to win."
UWM could not get to Kelly, recording just three hits over his 8.0 innings of work. Kelly gave up two runs - just one earned - and ended the night with eight strikeouts.
Up next for the Panthers will be a 4 p.m. CST game tomorrow, taking on San Diego. The Toreros, the No. 2 seed in the regional, lost to Hawai'i by a score of 4-3 on a bases-loaded hit batter in the top of the ninth inning. The winner of that game will play the loser of the Arizona State/Hawai'i winner; the loser will be eliminated.