The entire week, Pat Murphy was very secretive regarding his choice of starting pitcher for ASU's first game in Omaha against North Carolina.
It turned out that going against the grain and starting his #2 pitcher paid dividends for the Sun Devil skipper.
Josh Spence went seven strong innings, proving to be a dependable option even against the top competition of the Tar Heels, who looked stymied at the plate against the crafty left hander from Australia.
ASU scored 4 runs in the tenth inning, putting together just enough offense to survive a very tough matchup. Kole Calhoun hit an incredibly clutch home run to put the Devils up for good. UNC was able to add a run in the bottom of the tenth, but that was all they would muster on the day.
Coach Murphy played the lineup card close to his chest, hoping to keep UNC guessing right up until the first pitch. While many expected Mike Leake, the 8th overall selection in this week's MLB Draft, to toe the rubber for ASU, the unorthodox strategy has given ASU a great chance to go far in Omaha.
Spence, despite being injured for two months this season, was able to come back last weekend and help deliver the knockout punch against Clemson in the Tempe Super Regional.
Mitchell Lambson pitched three quality innings in relief for the #4 Sun Devils (50-12), earning his ninth win on the season, but his first College World Series victory.
Raoul Torrez had been struggling coming into the College World Series, but the captain's tenacious baserunning put UNC on their heels. Torrez went 2/3 with a walk.
For the Tar Heels, their superstar Dustin Ackley, the second pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, went 2/5 but was struck out by Lambson in the bottom of the 9th to push the game into extra frames.
All in all, this was an excellent performance by our young team, who played like they truly wanted to win and leave their mark in Omaha.
With the win, ASU will play the winner of Texas/Southern Mississippi on Tuesday.