Pitching leads baseball to sweep of Trojans
The No. 21 ASU baseball team held USC to two runs in three games this weekend at Packard Stadium as the Sun Devils swept the Trojans to continue their recent surge.
The ASU (23-13, 9-6 Pac-12) pitching staff tied the mark for the fewest amount of runs the program has ever allowed in a series, gave the team its 11th straight victory over USC (19-14, 5-9 Pac-12), and moved the Sun Devils to just one game out of first place in the Pac-12.
“This puts us back in the race,” said sophomore outfielder James McDonald, who had a home run in game three. “Especially coming out on Sunday and getting the sweep.”
Junior Brady Rodgers (6-1, 1.12 ERA), sophomore Trevor Williams (7-2, 1.41 ERA) and freshman Darin Gillies (1-3, 3.67 ERA) all provided shutdown performances as the Sun Devils won 5–1 on Friday, 4–0 on Saturday and 8–1 on Sunday.
It wasn’t just the ASU pitching that continued to show signs of improvement.
“This weekend, I thought we did a pretty good job — all three days — with going in with an approach and making them change their approach,” coach Tim Esmay said. “All that tells me that our guys are starting to get a little bit more mature in what they’re doing at the plate.”
Friday’s contest was a blackout game and the debut of the Sun Devils’ snazzy new copper and black hats and uniforms. Rodgers allowed just one run on six hits through eight innings, and junior shortstop Deven Marrero, senior first baseman Abe Ruiz and sophomore left fielder James McDonald all contributed RBI in the victory.
On Saturday, ASU rode Williams’ four-hit, complete game shutout to a win. In the first inning, Marrero had a one-out triple before junior second baseman Joey DeMichele brought him home with a sacrifice fly to take an early lead that the Sun Devils didn’t relinquish.
“I had all my stuff (Saturday),” Williams said. “Guys were making contact, but the defense just kept making plays. I felt in control.”
The outings of both Rodgers and Williams allowed the ASU defense to play relaxed.
“When you’ve got guys pounding the zone on defense, you’re into it,” Esmay said. “You’re expecting balls, and you’re expecting things to happen.”
Sunday’s affair was a similar story for the quiet Trojan bats, but this time it was Gillies that dealt for ASU. Gillies let up one run on three hits in five innings, and the Sun Devils’ offense was led by freshman designated hitter Rouric Bridgewater, who went 2-3 on the day with a home run and four RBI.
“I’m out there to just keep the team in the game, and then the (bullpen) comes in and does their job,” Gillies said. “It’s just a team effort on Sundays.”
ASU returns to action Tuesday when rival UA comes to Tempe. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
“Over the last two weeks, we’ve been growing a lot as a team,” McDonald said. “I feel like we’re starting to find our potential.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com