TEMPE, Ariz. (May 26)-- Making its first NCAA postseason appearance in 17 years, Miami University (39-22) was handed a 15-7
setback to fourth-ranked Arizona State in its opening game of the West Regional Friday night.
The loss halted the RedHawks' seven-game winning streak, their longest of the season, and sent them to the consolation bracket for
a 2 p.m. (Ohio time) matchup with Creighton University, a 5-4 loser to Texas. The loser of the Miami-Creighton game will be
eliminated from the regional.
The five-time national champion Sun Devils (43-13), who are making their 26th NCAA tourney appearance, chased RedHawk ace
Nate Tekavec with eight runs in the first two innings. ASU scored seven times in the first, with left fielder Mitch Jones sparking the
first-inning explosion with a three-run homer over the 368-foot sign in left center field.
A national player-of-the-year candidate and a semifinalist for the Rotary Smith Player of the Year Award, Jones upped his
team-leading RBI total to 91. He is ranked fourth nationally in RBI per game.
The Sun Devils also received a two-RBI double from third baseman Mel Stocker and a two-RBI triple from designated hitter Jonah
Martin to round out their first-inning scoring.
ASU leads all Division I schools in offense, averaging 11 runs per game.
"Arizona State is an aggressive hitting team," said Miami coach Tracy Smith. "You can't afford to to get pitches up against them. We
just didn't do the job on the mound.
"We need to forget about this game and come out ready to play against Creighton. Otherwise, our season is done."
Tekavec, who led all Miami hurlers in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts this season, lasted just 1 1/3 innings-his shortest starting
stint of the year. Tekavec (9-6) surrendered eight runs on seven hits. Four of the eight hits went for extra bases.
ASU catcher Casey Myers, the 2000 Pac-10 Player of the Year and another Sun Devil up for national player-of-the year honors,
finished 4-for-4 with a double, home run and 5 RBI. Myers upped his team-leading RBI total to 94, eight shy of ASU's
Offensively, Miami's top four hitters (John Lackaff, Clark Mace, Jeremy Ison and Joe Spain) went a combined 2-for-17 at the plate.
Catcher George Stegmiller was the only RedHawk with multiple hits. He stroked two of Miami's seven base hits. Stegmiller's first hit
in the second inning produced the RedHawks' first run of the game.
"Miami was a little bit nervous or something in the early going," said ASU coach Pat Murphy. "But I think our great crowd (4,213)
had a lot to do with that."
"Hitting is contagious and we just got everyone going tonight," said Myers.
Miami is expected to throw freshman Chris Leonard (6-1), the RedHawks' hottest pitcher, against the Blue Jays on Saturday.
Creighton, the No. 3 seed in the region, earned an at-large berth to the NCAA's.