ASU baseball starts off strong to bury Washington State

Six first-inning runs helped the Sun Devils defeat Washington State, giving ASU its first Pac-12 series win

ASU baseball did something it hadn't done in over a month on Friday: win a series. The last series win happened when the Sun Devils swept Long Beach State over a month ago. This is also the first Pac-12 series win for ASU.

The Sun Devils (15-18, 4-10 Pac-12) won 10-7 over Washington State (15-16, 2-9 Pac-12). 

For a team that's had a losing taste in its mouth, the series victory came as a nice change of script.

ASU came out of the gate hot, scoring six runs in the first inning, which head coach Tracy Smith thinks set the tone for the whole game.

"Just psychologically where we've been the last couple of weeks, for us to not always be chasing is a big thing for us right now," Smith said.

The Sun Devils scored three quick runs from a WSU error, a sacrifice fly and an RBI double from junior second baseman Andrew Snow.

Then came freshman shortstop Carter Aldrete, who blasted a two-run home run that put ASU up 5-0 in the first. Sophomore third baseman Jeremy McCuin added on with a two-out bunt RBI that gave the Sun Devils their sixth run. 

While senior starting pitcher Eder Erives silenced the Cougars for 3.2 innings, the Sun Devils' offense kept humming with a sacrifice fly from Aldrete and an RBI double from McCuin in the third. 

After a fourth inning sac fly from senior catcher Zach Cerbo, McCuin continued his stellar performance with a solo home run in the fifth. 

McCuin finished a triple shy of the cycle and is now hitting .256 after a rough stretch against Cal.

"That's just baseball I think," McCuin said. "When I'm running out to the plate, skip just yells my name, tells me to bunt. My mindset at the plate for my third at bat was to swing as hard as I can."

Following the home run, it appeared that ASU was on pace for an easy win.

But after racing to a 10-0 lead in the first five innings, ASU figuratively put it in cruise control and let the Cougars claw their way back into the game, primarily in the seventh inning when WSU scored six to lessen the gap to 10-7.

"The game should be over, you're up 10 with three innings to go, it should be over," Smith said. "(I) wasn't real happy, particularly with a big lead and walking people and three ball counts."

However, junior pitcher Ryan Hingst squashed WSU's hopes when he notched two quick outs in the seventh, and then pitched two more scoreless innings to secure the Sun Devil victory.

"We kind of got to ride the hot hand right now," Hingst said. "And I felt like me and Cerbo were on a good page tonight and I think skip saw that and just kind of let us run with it."

ASU will finish off the series against WSU on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. MST. 

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