Agony in Austin: Texas ends ASU’s baseball season

There has never been a time when both the softball and baseball teams from one college have won the NCAA Championship in the same season.

And it won’t happen this year, either.

After Arizona State’s softball team rolled through the Women’s College World series and claimed the 2011 national crown, the Sun Devil baseball team looked like they were on their way to the College World Series as well.

Until they ran into the University of Texas in the Austin Super Regional over the weekend.

ASU cruised through the regional tournament, winning three straight, and then won the first game of the best-of-three series in the Super Regional.  But the Devils dropped the next two games, losing the finale yesterday afternoon, 4-2, to end their season and their hopes for another trip to the CWS in Omaha.

It looked like the offense had finally found its stroke, as Riccio Torrez singled in the top of the first inning and then Deven Marrero parked one over the right-center fence to put ASU up 2-0.  The home run was just the third extra-base hit the Devils managed to that point in the series with the Longhorns.

But those would be the only runs of the game for the Sun Devils.  Texas came back right away to pick up their first score in the bottom of that inning, and then went on to plate another run in the fourth and two more in the sixth.

With two outs in the top half of the ninth inning, Joey DeMichele tripled, giving the ASU fans a flicker of hope.  But it was too little, too late.

But ASU didn’t lose to just anybody.  The Longhorns, who have won six national titles, are the No. 5 team in the country this season and will be making their 34th trip to the College World Series, which sets an NCAA record.

Besides being able to pound the ball, Texas sports a .982 fielding percentage – the third-best in the nation this year.

Arizona State is also one of the more respected programs in the annals of college baseball.  The Devils, who finished ranked No. 10 this season, have been to the College World Series 22 times and have won five national championships.

It was a great match-up, but in the end it was the deep, talented Texas pitching staff that made the difference.

Consider this: During the three games of the Regional, ASU collected a total of 33 runs.  Against Texas, just six.

In the regional tournament, the Devils collected 19 hits against Charlotte and, in the game against Arkansas, six of the nine starters had more than one hit.

Against the Longhorns, the Sun Devils had just a handful of extra-base hits in 27 innings, and only one home run.

After yesterday’s game, ASU’s second-year head coach Tim Esmay had this to say about the pitching:  “It makes it tough on an offense when they bring in different arms, with different looks out of the bullpen.  That’s why Texas is playing in the College World Series.”

That pretty much sums it up.