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February 11, 2007

Notebook: Devils show their strengths

Arizona St.-Houston
Texas A&M-Rice

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HOUSTON, Texas Before the Houston College Classic, Arizona State coach Pat Murphy challenged junior left-hander Josh Satow and the pitching staff.

Despite a series sweep over Southern Utah on opening weekend, Murphy wasn't pleased with the staff's overall performance.

While left-hander Brian Flores failed to impress in the College Classic opener against Texas A&M, freshman Mike Leake and veteran Josh Satow took the torch.

Satow was most impressive, silencing Houston in the tournament finale. The Devils defeated the Cougars 11-1.

"With the speed of his changeup, he's almost impossible to hit if he's hitting the right spots," Arizona State coach Pat Murphy said. "We still aren't a complete team, but I was pleased with the way Josh and others rose to the occasion this weekend."

The junior left-hander tossed Arizona State's first complete game since 2005 and allowed a run on six hits. He also struck out eight and walked one.

"Coach Murphy had mentioned that we needed to step up and I was happy to do that this afternoon," Satow said. "I've been getting much more comfortable as of late and I think it showed in today's game."

Satow was also pleased with the rest of the pitching staff.

"As a staff, our progressions have been great this week," he said. "If you look at our arms, we each bring something different to the table."

Arizona State's high octane offense garners most of the headlines in Tempe. But if Satow and others can establish consistency, the sky is the limit for the Sun Devils.

The Houston College Classic was a step in the right direction.

Vanderbilt completes perfect weekend

There might not be anyone more critical of his Vanderbilt team than Tim Corbin.

But when the fiery coach has a small smile on his face, you know something went right for the surging Commodores.

Backed by a pair of solid pitching performances and a red-hot offense, the Commodores defeated Baylor 7-4 to finish the Houston College Classic with an unblemished record. Corbin isn't one to overcompensate, but did admit how much this weekend means to his team's confidence level.

"I thought we played very well against top notch competition," Corbin said. "This weekend was good for the team and our confidence, but there's a long season ahead and this type of play must become the norm."

Vanderbilt starting pitcher Brett Jacobson allowed one earned run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, while freshman reliever Mike Minor threw 2 1/3 shutout innings.

"Even when we got down early, we battled back and got the job done," Jacobson said. "I was pleased with my outing and also thought Mike did a great job."

While Jacobson and Minor led the way on the mound, third baseman Pedro Alvarez and shortstop Ryan Flaherty did the honors offensively.

Alvarez had two hits in the game, while Flaherty had three hits, a run and an RBI.

"When the offense continues to strike back like they did today, it makes our job as pitchers much easier," Jacobson said. "From the pitching staff to the position players, this weekend was a team effort."

Aggies use pitching to beat Owls

The last time Texas A&M defeated Rice, a Super Regional berth was on the line and the Aggies got it done with Justin Ruggiano's heroics.

In Sunday's 4-2 win over the Owls, the Aggies used strong pitching to record the victory.

"I thought the starter (David Newmann) did a great job tonight," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "The reliever (Kyle Nicholson) also did a nice job of keeping our offense from getting in a groove."

Texas A&M starter David Newmann missed last season because of Tommy John surgery. But in his first true outing for the Aggies, he didn't disappoint.

The left-hander allowed two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings. He also struck out six and walked two.

"I thought Newmann and Nicholson were great tonight and their outings give us some confidence as we press forward," Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. "It's not often that you out-pitch Rice, so we'll take what we can from this game."

While Newmann gave the Aggies a strong outing, the savior was veteran right-hander Kyle Nicholson, who tossed 3 2/3 shutout innings to earn his first win of the season. He also struck out four and walked one.

"We still have a lot of work to do, but this win definitely gives us confidence," Nicholson said. "Coach Childress came out in the ninth and asked me if I wanted him to go with someone else out of the pen. I told him I wanted to finish the game."

That decision worked out for the improved Aggies.