Wednesday, June 8, 1988
Of all the 1,162 games Jim Brock has coached in 17 seasons at Arizona State, he said Wednesday, he's never seen a greater comeback.
The top-ranked Sun Devils, trailing 3-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, stunned Wichita State with three straight singles to tie the game and won 4-3 in 10 innings to stay alive in the College World Series.
The Shockers had Arizona State on the ropes twice in the ninth inning at Rosenblatt Stadium. Pitcher David Haas needed only one more strike on two batters with 0-2 counts for the victory that would have guaranteed a berth in Saturday's national championship game.
The Sun Devils made it 3-2 when Ricky Candelari, who had fallen behind 0-2 against Haas, singled and tied the game when Pat Listach singled on an 0-2 count.
ASU, trying for its third national championship under Brock, won on designated hitter Martin Peralta's RBI single in the 10th.
Brock said the circumstances made it ASU's best comeback during his coaching career.
"I certainly can't remember a game of this importance, where we got down to our last strike twice," Brock said. "I think that's significant in any ballgame. But it was a ballgame of this magnitude, and it happened twice, and we hadn't scored hardly anything the entire ballgame.
"There are certainly times when we've come back and scored more than two runs in the ninth. But when you put the whole package together, I think this probably is our greatest comeback."
The Sun Devils, 59-12, would be headed for home if not for superb relief pitching. The Shockers struck for three runs in the first against ASU ace Linty Ingram, who didn't retire any of the four batters he faced.
Brock called on relievers Brian Dodd and Gordy Farmer to silence WSU the rest of the game.
"In a giant ballgame," Brock said, "that might be the best relief performance by two people I've ever had."
Wichita State's Haas mastered the Sun Devils until the ninth.
ASU's Dan Rumsey led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on Peralta's check-swing fielder's choice.
After Haas struck out Tim Spehr, Candelari made it 3-2 with a single to right.
Candelari stayed alive on an 0-2 pitch by throwing his bat at a pitch to foul it off.
Mike Burrola kept the inning going with a single to left-center that advanced Candelari to second.
After a conference on the mound with Haas and catcher Eric Wedge, Wichita State Coach Gene Stephenson stuck with Haas to face Listach. Haas had struck out Listach on his three previous at-bats.
Listach, a junior shortstop from Natchitoches, La., drilled a single to left to tie the game. Mike Newlin relieved Haas after Listach's hit.
"I knew I had to swing the bat because I took too many pitches the time before and my last three previous at-bats," Listach said. "He hung an 0-2 curve ball. It was a terrible pitch for an 0-2 pitch. I was expecting an 0-2 curve in the dirt, and he threw it right down the middle."
Newlin, the Shockers' top reliever, got the final out of the ninth but started the 10th with control problems. He walked the first two batters, Kevin Higgins and Steve Willis.
WSU's Pat Cedeno relieved Newlin after the two walks. He retired Rumsey on a fly to center. But Peralta decided the game with a single to right-center, his only hit of the game.
ASU's Ingram, an All-American, made his second unsuccessful start against the Shockers.
Ingram, the nation's leading winner with 17 victories, lasted only two innings in Sunday's 7-4 loss to WSU, allowing five hits and five runs.