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Super Regional Preview: Arizona State

Super Regional is a best-of-3 series at Packard Stadium in Tempe, AZ. A stadium that holds about 2/3 of what Tiger Field can.

No. 5 Arizona State (47-12, Pac-10 Champion) vs. Clemson (44-20)
Game 1: Saturday, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 2: Sunday, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 3: Monday, 7 p.m. (ESPN2), if necessary

The only local team ASU played was Winthrop, who they swept in a 3-game set in early May. We didn't play Winthrop this year. Their schedule with results is here.

Rivals previews the series and predicts ASU to win. Greg Wallace writes about how relaxed the Tigers are trying to be this week...which I would really like to see. They've played tight in big road games as far back as I can remember, even during the days of Benson and Koch. The first half of this season we played very tight, and again in the ACC tournament.

More on the team from Gnews and the SHJ. This Rivals article talks about ASU, and how they want redemption for last year. Don Munson previews the series with player interviews here.

Leggett and pitching coach Kyle Bunn said they would likely decide on their starters for the opening two games today. Sophomore lefty Casey Harman figures to be a lock for one start, while other candidates include lefty Chris Dwyer and righties Scott Weismann and Graham Stoneburner.

Looking at ASU's pitching statistics, and given that the Pac-10 is not a cupcake conference (though behind the SEC/ACC), we are going to have an insanely tough time beating a team who are 34-4 at home this year:

ASU team ERA is 2.79, the only other team under 3.00 is Texas. Anything under about 4.50 is great against aluminum bats. Clemson is 5th nationally at 3.57.

ASU starter Mike Leake is a 2-time Pac-10 player of the year and currently a finalist for the Golden Spikes (baseball Heisman). This year he is 15-1 with a 1.23 ERA (unimaginable in college, but Benson was just as good) in 124.2 IP, 20 BB, and 143Ks, 7 CG, and 2 shutouts. He is slated to start Game 1.

He's followed by Josh Spence in Game 2, a Jr. lefty with an 8-1 record and 2.37 ERA (13th nationally, 99Ks in 79.2 IP, All-American). The other notable pitchers are Mitchell Lambson (Fr. LH, 8-3 2.81, freshman All-American), Seth Blair (Soph. RH, 7-2 3.16 ERA), and Jason Franzblau (Sr. RH, 3-2, 2.40). Its likely Blair will start Game 3.

As a team, ASU has allowed only 28 HRs all year. Clemson hit 64 this season.

Conversely, theyre about the same as Clemson when it comes to their hitting, compare it to our own here. Both teams hit .303 average, which is good but not extraordinary for college ball. Their offensive attack is led by Jason Kipnis (.387, 15HR, 68RBI) and Carlos Ramirez (.341, 18HR, 69RBI). They scored 476 runs this year, compared to our 447.

They also field only slightly better than Clemson.

If we can avoid playing tight, which has always been our problem, and get some clutch hits then we can win. Any hits will be at a premium though. We cannot afford mental glitches like the 7th inning of Sunday nights game, or UVA in the ACC Tournament. We all know that we had teams with comparable pitching to what ASU has, and have lost, so anything can happen.

Highlights of the regional from MBRO.