In a reversal of outcome from the last two nights at Hi Corbett Field, it was UA’s offensive reawakening that drove the Wildcats to a 5-1 win Sunday night.
UA avoided a series sweep to the rival Sun Devils (23-17, 12-9 Pac-12) thanks to a pitching staff that limited ASU to a mere two hits, both coming from sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald.
Sophomore Tyger Talley pitched 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball for UA in a no-decision.
Sophomore Cody Moffett improved to 2-1 on the season in the win, and ASU junior Darin Gillies fell to 1-4.
Freshman designated hitter Michael Hoard put UA ahead 2-0 on an RBI double scoring junior second baseman Trent Gilbert and sophomore center fielder Scott Kingery.
Junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third inning, bringing home redshirt junior Tucker Esmay for ASU’s lone run.
The Wildcats would never look back.
Two runs in the bottom of the fourth, the second courtesy of sophomore shortstop Kevin Newman, who notched his 32nd RBI, opened the game up.
Leading 4-1, an unlikely contributor in junior catcher Riley Moore, hitting just .236 on the season, singled through the right side to tack on a run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Gillies labored through four innings on 67 pitches, only 36 of which were strikes.
The fatigue of Gillies after a rough outing appeared to influence the rest of the ASU pitchers that followed him, combining for nine walks as a staff.
Kingery drew three of those walks, and scored twice as a direct result of the free passes.
Including Gillies and the Sun Devil bullpen committee of freshman relievers Eder Erives and Hever Bueno, sophomore Jordan Aboites, and sophomore closer Ryan Burr, the ASU pitchers were unable to strike out a single Wildcat hitter Sunday night.
Burr continued his inconsistent season, relieving Aboites in the eighth, and throwing three straight balls, one of which went to the backstop to score UA’s final run, before he induced a pop-out to Esmay at second to stop the bleeding.
But by then, it was much too late for a Sun Devil rally.
The early exit ASU’s No. 3 starter was discouraging after pitching 15 innings combined in his last two outings.
Even more disconcerting was the offense’s inability to generate any semblance of run support, going stagnant after the third inning and leaving seven runners on base.
ASU had zero two-out RBIs, and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, while UA was 4-for-12, and four of six Wildcat runs came with two outs.
ASU returns home to face its next opponent, in a nonconference game against the New Mexico State Aggies at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29 at Packard Stadium.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @modrich_22