#1 Arkansas Beats #1 Arizona State
(With the end of the year fast approaching, we’re counting down some of the top moments from the 2009 college baseball season. We’ll have one a day through New Year’s Eve.)
It was unique enough just to have Arizona State (22-5) playing at Arkansas (22-6) in a pair of mid-week games, but the two teams’ rankings made the match-up even more special. Arizona State was ranked #1 in the nation in three polls: Baseball America, NCBWA and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Arkansas was number one in the Collegiate Baseball Poll.
The games were just the second regular season meetings between the two teams after ASU had swept two games in Tempe in 2008. The Tuesday/Wednesday April 7 & 8 games also represented the first ever #1 vs. #1 match-up in the history of Arkansas’ Baum Stadium.
Arizona State scored first in game one when Zack MacPhee stole home in the 3rd inning and then Kole Calhoun singled-in Carlos Ramirez an inning later to make it 2-0 ASU. Arkansas got on the board with a run in the 4th inning, but Ramirez blasted his 11th home run of the year in the top of the 6th to put the Sun Devils up 3-1.
The Razorbacks would erupt for five runs in the 7th inning, capped by a pinch-hit Scott Lyons 2-run single to right-centerfield to put Arkansas up 6-3. The Hogs added a run in the 8th inning for a 7-3 win in front of a crowd of 8,342.
A record crowd of 11,434 packed Baum Stadium the next night only to see the Sun Devils jump out to a 6-1 lead through three innings. Jason Kipnis’ 10th home run of the year was among the early damage inflicted by ASU, but for a second straight night the early lead would not hold.
Arkansas capitalized on an Abe Ruiz error at first base to plate a total four runs in the 4th inning to its deficit to 6-5. Three of the runs were unearned.
ASU added a run in the top of the 5th to make it 7-6, but the Razorbacks scored three more runs, all with two outs, in the bottom of the frame. Andrew Darr’s single plated the first run, and then Tim Carver drove-in Darr and Brett Eibner with another single to give Arkansas an 8-7 win and the two-game series sweep.
Zack Cox was one of six pitchers sent to the mound by Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn. He gave-up just two hits in three shutout innings to earn the win. Stephen Richards tossed a perfect 9th inning for his 6th save of 2009.
17,300 fans came through the turnstiles for the historic two-game series at Baum Stadium. It broke the record of 15,919 set earlier in the season vs. Nebraska.
Both teams would make it to the College World Series in 2009, but they took distinctly different roads to Omaha.
Pat Murphy’s Sun Devils won 22 of their last 26 games to close the regular season. They were a combined 5-0 in the Regional and Super Regional games they hosted vs. Kent State, Oral Roberts and Clemson.
Arkansas was just 10-16 (including 2-2 at the SEC Tournament) down the stretch, but they caught fire after getting into the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks were 3-0 at the Norman, OK Regional with a win over Washington State and two victories over the host Sooners. They won both of their Super Regional games vs. Florida State in Tallahassee, FL to advance to Omaha.
Other Top Moments Of 2009