Arizona State head coach Tracy Smith made headlines before the tournament with a tweet telling the NCAA selection committee to send the Sun Devils anywhere and they would win. On Day 1 of the Fullerton Regional, he let his bats and Senior Trever Allen do the talking for him as Arizona State scored 6 runs in their final 2 at bats and stifled Clemson's 9th inning rally to take game #1 of the Fullerton Regional by a score of 7 to 4.
A region that many analysts have dubbed the most difficult regional in the tournament due to its pitching saw two of the games best take the hill in the opener with Arizona States Junior left hander Ryan Kellogg facing off against ACC Pitcher of the Year and Golden Spikes award Semi-Finalist Matthew Crownover.
After Eli White singled and stole second to lead off the game for the Tigers, the two pitchers would retire the next 19 batters that they faced before entering into the fifth inning where both offenses would start to create their chances.
Clemson got on the board first in the fifth after Chris Okey lead off the inning with a walk. Okey was sacrificed to second by Designated Hitter Robert Jolly before Weston Wilson smashed a line drive single to right field putting runners at the corners. Wilson would advance to second on a wild pitch before Andrew Cox took a two out fastball back up the middle scoring two runs to give the Tigers and their ace a 2 to 0 lead.
After a long rest in the dugout, Crownover would head back to the mound where Arizona State would take a run back when Trever Allen roped a home run down the left field line over the foul pole to cut the lead in half at 2 to 1.
Clemson would threaten again in the bottom of the sixth after a Steven Duggar single and walks to Chris Okey (Intentional) and Robert Jolly would load the basses with two outs for Weston Wilson. Wilson lined out to center field to leave the bases loaded for the Tigers in the 6th.
Crownover would settle back in retiring the Sun Devils in order in the 6th, but the long ball would come back to hurt him again in the bottom of the seventh. After walking Trever Allen with one out, Senior Joey Bielek crushed a fastball over the left center field wall for his team leading sixth homerun to put Arizona State ahead 3 to 2. Brian Serven would follow Bielek launching a back-to-back solo home run extending the lead to 4 to 2.
Both teams would head to their bullpens in the 8th inning with Clemson trying to hold the lead at 2 and going to Junior College transfer Taylor Vetzel. Vetzel fell victim to a leadoff walk and some small ball as Arizona State would extend the lead on an RBI fielders choice by Colby Woodmansee extended the lead for ASU. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out, Kevin Pohle would come in to face Trever Allen who greeted him with a two RBI triple to the gap in right center field to break the game open and give the Sun Devils a 7 to 2 lead going into the 9th inning.
The Tigers wouldn't go down without a fight in the 9th. Weston Wilson would double and advance to third on a wild pitch. After Tyler Slaton walked and advanced to second on a defensive indifference, Eli White laced a two run single to right field to trim the lead to 7 to 4. Steven Duggar picked up his third hit of the day with 2 outs to bring the tying run to the plate, but Arizona State would go to closer Ryan Burr who struck out Tyler Krieger to end the game and send Clemson to the losers bracket.
Matthew Crownover picked up only his third loss of the season allowing four runs on five hits in 7.0 innings pitched to go along with a season high 9 strikeouts. Ryan Kellogg tallied the win for Arizona State allowing six hits and two runs in 7.0 innings pitched. Ryan Burr picked up his NCAA leading 14th save by striking out Krieger to end the game.
Clemson is now 1-5 in its last six NCAA Regional games and has been outscored 37 to 19. Clemson will return to the field in an elimination game tomorrow evening at 7pm eastern time against the loser of tonight's Cal State Fullerton vs. Pepperdine match up. Clemson will start Junior Zack Erwin in an attempt to keep their season alive. Stay tuned to Shakin the Southland for more Fullerton Regional coverage.