FULLERTON, Calif. - So close, so far.
Andre Ethier spotted a sign on the outfield fence at Goodwin Field that notes the mileage to Omaha, Neb.
"You get this far. You get so close to reaching your dream," said the junior center fielder after losing his final college game, 7-1, Sunday to third-ranked Cal State Fullerton. "It feels like it's 1,500 miles from Omaha. It's disappointing."
The Devils (54-14) trailed 7-0 after three innings and couldn't muster an attack against Fullerton's No. 3 starter, 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman Dustin Miller.
"It's just bad how it ended," said All-American shortstop Dustin Pedroia, who had a nightmarish series, going hitless in 13 plate appearances.
On consecutive days, Pedroia tried to jump-start the Devils as he did at Washington when he led off the second game, after a loss, with a homer.
But in Fullerton's park, the ball landed in outfielders' gloves, not over the wall or in the gaps.
"I hit the ball hard," said Pedroia, who won't win the Pac-10 batting title after his average fell to .404. "They weren't falling for me. The ball just didn't go anywhere today."
In taking 2-of-3 from ASU, the Titans improved to 10-2 against Pac-10 teams this season.
"It just hurts," said Pedroia, a sophomore. "They're a good ball club and deserve to go to Omaha. But so do we."
Of the four western teams to get regional sites, the Sun Devils were the last, a member of the baseball committee told a Fullerton official.
The committee chose ASU over Minnesota.
Cal State Fullerton, Stanford and Long Beach State had been awarded regionals before ASU.
That ASU apparently was the last of the quartet perhaps means the Devils were rated below Long Beach State, despite winning 2-of-3 games against the 49ers. It also means ASU wasn't close to getting one of the eight national seeds coach Pat Murphy and fans believed the team deserved.
The Boyd's World Pseudo RPI, which has a disclaimer that the RPI system works against western teams, had ASU's RPI at No. 21 when the sites were announced. ASU was No. 14 going into the Super Regional. Long Beach State was No. 12.
This was the eighth season ASU and Fullerton have played in the postseason. The rivalry dates back to 1975 when ASU beat the Titans at the College World Series.
The Titans squared the series at 6-6.
ASU has tentatively scheduled Tulane and East Carolina in non-conference home games, a school spokesman said. ASU will visit Wichita State and Oklahoma.
ASU's scoring streak, which survived two tough challenges this weekend, will be 501 games when 2004 season commences.
DH Jeremy West (24) and Ethier (23) ended the season with long hitting steaks.
ASU fans can get a glimpse of future Sun Devil Colin Curtis at noon Tuesday when Fox Sports Net replays the 2003 All-American High School Baseball game.