Undrafted Calhoun Sends Tar Heels Packing

Todd CallahanContributor IJune 19, 2009

15 Jun 2000: A general view of the exterior taken during the College World Series at the Resenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons  /Allsport

Prior to the beginning of the College World Series, Arizona State's portly left fielder Kole Calhoun was eagerly awaiting a phone call that never came.

Hoping to be drafted in the Major League  Baseball Amateur Draft, the Sun Devils' junior waited for three days and 50 rounds to learn he was not on the radar of any big league team.

With a chip on his shoulder, the left-hander decided to take out his frustrations on pitchers in Omaha, Neb., as Calhoun helped rally Arizona State from a four-run deficit to a 12-5 triumph over North Carolina on Thursday.

With the victory, the Sun Devils eliminated the Tar Heels and are one of four teams remaining in the College World Series. Arizona State meets top-ranked and undefeated Texas on Friday at 7 p.m. The Sun Devils have to beat the Longhorns twice in order to advance to the best-of-three championship series.

In the other bracket, undefeated Louisiana State entertains fellow Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas at 2 p.m. The Razorbacks have to beat the Tigers twice in order to advance.

In Arizona State's game against North Carolina, Calhoun went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and six RBI. He also was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, as he was a cog in ending the Tar Heels' season.

During last Sunday's College World Series opener, Calhoun, facing Heels' reliever Brian Moran, who was drafted in the fourth round of this year's draft by the New York Yankees, provided the knockout punch with a three-run home run in the 10th inning of a 5-2 victory.

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Four days later, Calhoun did it again. 

With the Heels leading 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Sun Devils got on the scoreboard thanks to a grand slam by Calhoun, who deposited a fastball from Moran into the right field bleachers.

Calhoun's blast, the third of the College World Series, tied the game. However, his biggest hit came two innings later when the Devils blew the game open with an eight-run seventh inning.

Calhoun started the scoring in the pivotal frame by hitting a two-run double in the gap in right-center field to score jason Kipnis, who singled and Carlos Ramirez, who walked. Calhoun's double off reliever Patrick Johnson gave Arizona State a 6-4 lead. It would only get worse for the Tar Heels, who were making their fourth straight College World Series appearance.

Not only was Calhoun's hitting pivotal for the Sun Devils, but North Carolina's inability to throw strikes also paved the way for Arizona State to move into the final four of the double-elimination tournament.

Tar Heel pitchers combined for 10 walks and four hit batters. Six of those came around to score, including four in the eight-run seventh inning.

The seventh inning looked more like a little league game rather than the College World Series, as the Sun Devils scored eight runs on five hits. They took advantage of four walks and a hit batter.

At one point, the Tar Heels walked three straight batters to force in a run. Zack MacPhee and Drew Maggi followed with back-to-back, two-RBI singles to blow the game open.

Trailing 12-4, the Heels, who had seven players drafted, pushed across a run, as Dustin Ackley, this year's No. 2 overall draft pick, singled to right field in what is probably the final at-bat of his college career.

It was a record 28th career hit of the College World Series for the top draft pick of the Seattle Mariners. He came around to score on a double by Carolina third baseman Kyle Seager, who was drafted in the third-round by the Mariners.

Carolina's final three batters were retired, ending the fourth-ranked Tar Heels fourth straight College World Series appearance. The Heels have never won a national championship in baseball.

The Sun Devils are four wins away for claiming the program's sixth national championship. Arizona State has not won the College World Series since 1981.