Texas wins CWS opener; Arizona State overcomes UNC

Southern Mississippi's James Ewing, right, scores at home plate as Texas catcher Cameron Rupp can't control the ball in the eighth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, June 14, 2009. <b>r<I>AP Photo

OMAHA, Neb. - A great day of pitching gave way to a rough night on the mound at the College World Series.

Arizona State's Josh Spence and North Carolina's Alex White engaged in a rare CWS pitchers' duel late into the game Sunday before the Sun Devils pulled away for a 5-2 victory in 10 innings.

Later, Southern Mississippi pitchers walked in the last three Texas runs, including Jonathan Johnston's to Brandon Loy in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Longhorns a 7-6 win.

"Championships," Texas coach Augie Garrido said, "are decided by the unexpected."

No one could have foreseen this meltdown, even though Southern Miss coach Corky Palmer expressed concern about his team's lack of pitching depth in the days before the CWS.

Johnston walked Loy on four pitches. Of Texas' last 11 batters, six walked and one was hit by a pitch. And of the 171 pitches thrown by five USM pitchers, just 94 were strikes. They walked nine.

"For whatever reason, we just didn't throw strikes," Palmer said. "There's your ballgame right there."

Play continues in Bracket 1 on Monday with Cal State Fullerton (47-15) meeting Virginia (48-14-1) in an afternoon elimination game and Arkansas (40-22) facing Southeastern Conference rival LSU (52-16) at night.

Games resume in Bracket 2 on Tuesday, with Southern Miss (40-25) trying to stay alive against North Carolina (47-17) in the afternoon and Texas (47-14-1) meeting Arizona State (50-12) at night.

USM's dismal pitching performance in its Omaha debut spoiled an otherwise gutty performance.

"Our players played like I thought they would on the big stage," Palmer said. "I thought there were no nerves and we handled everything well. We just didn't throw strikes at the end. We really didn't throw strikes all night long."

The Longhorns got all they could handle against USM. They could never settle in against the Eagles, who came into the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 regional seed.

Southern Miss tied it at 6 in the top of the ninth on James Ewing's single off Taylor Jungmann (9-3), who had taken over for a struggling Austin Wood. They couldn't finish, though.

Johnston relieved Fields (2-1) with one out and runners on first and second. The side-arming Johnston struck out Tant Shepherd, but then threw only one strike on his final eight pitches.

In Arizona State's win, a bad break for the Tar Heels and a good swing of the bat by Kole Calhoun decided the outcome.

Calhoun's three-run homer off Brian Moran in the top of the 10th, after Carolina right fielder Garrett Gore's error led to the go-ahead run, carried the Sun Devils to victory.

Jason Kipnes reached when Gore misplayed his one-out fly ball near the warning track. The ball nicked Gore's glove and dropped. Carlos Ramirez followed with a base hit up the middle, scoring Drew Maggi from second to break a 1-1 tie.

Calhoun, who had grounded out to the mound his first three at-bats and struck out looking on his fourth, sent Moran's 1-1 pitch four rows into the stands in left-center field for a four-run lead.

"I wanted a better at-bat than the last four, and that wasn't hard to do," Calhoun said. "Murph told me to take what he gives me and hit it into left center. Fortunately, it got up in the air and got out of here."

White, who went nine innings in his fourth CWS start, matched his career-high with 12 strikeouts. The Cleveland Indians' first-round draft pick was touched for three doubles in the first two innings, but he allowed only four singles the rest of the way over 131 pitches.

Spence allowed eight singles over seven innings. The Los Angeles Angels' third-round pick walked three and struck out eight in his 122-pitch outing, then gave way to lefty Mitchell Lambson (9-3) in the eighth.

Spence and Lambson stymied a Carolina offense that had been batting .400 in the NCAA tournament, well above its regular-season mark of .301. The Heels came in averaging 10 runs in the postseason and had scored 45 in the previous four games.

Colin Bates (4-3), who faced one batter in the 10th, took the loss, but Moran was clearly off his game when the Tar Heels needed him most.

"He got the ball up on the home run," Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "He didn't look like he had the life he usually has. The home run shocked him a little bit."


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