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Baseball roars back with sweep of WSU

Back in stride: ASU sophomore Jake Barrett pitches as junior infielder Riccio Torrez looks on during the Sun Devils’ 10-4 win over Washington State on Sunday. Barrett picked up the win as ASU completed the sweep over the Cougars. (Photo by Scott Stuk)
Back in stride: ASU sophomore Jake Barrett pitches as junior infielder Riccio Torrez looks on during the Sun Devils’ 10-4 win over Washington State on Sunday. Barrett picked up the win as ASU completed the sweep over the Cougars. (Photo by Scott Stuk)

Now that’s more like it.

After getting swept in a Pac-10 series for the first time since 1999, the ASU baseball team responded with a sweep of its own this weekend.

The No. 10 Sun Devils (25-9, 8-4 Pac-10) took three games from Washington State, winning the series by a combined 12 runs.

“We got put on our heels last week,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said. “We did a great job this weekend of pushing the envelope. We weren’t afraid of failure. We forced the action instead of being happy moving from base to base.”

Per Pac-10 norm, Friday night was a pitcher’s duel.

The Cougars (14-17, 2-10 Pac-10) struck first, courtesy of a RBI single from senior shortstop Cody Bartlett in the third inning.

But that’s all the scoring WSU would do against ASU junior ace Brady Rodgers.

“We kind of had a monkey on our back after getting swept by Oregon State,” he said. “We just wanted to get on the winning side again. I was just pitching to contact and our defense was solid again.”

The Sun Devils finally got their offense going in the fifth. A RBI single from senior catcher Xorge Carrillo tied the game up with one out.

The next batter, junior outfielder Johnny Ruettiger, laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance ASU runners to second and third with two outs.

That’s when the Sun Devils received a gracious gift from the Cougars.

ASU junior second baseman Zack MacPhee hit a routine grounder to second, but WSU junior Tommy Richards let it roll through his legs and into center field. Both runners scored and the Sun Devils took a two-run lead.

“That was a tough matchup for Ruettiger, and so he just cut his losses and helped the team in a different way,” Esmay said. “It got rid of the force out and then MacPhee hit the ball hard and they don’t make the play. Our guys know we have to score in more ways than one.”

The ASU pitching staff took the game from there.

Rodgers (5-2) exited with one out in the sixth to watch sophomore Alex Blackford and freshman Trevor Williams retire the side.

ASU junior closer Mitchell Lambson struck out all three batters in the ninth to earn the save and secure the 3-1 win.

The Sun Devil pitching was just as good on Saturday. This time, however, the offense helped out its staff early and often.

ASU sophomore Joey DeMichele knocked in three runs in the first three innings with two RBI producing hits.

The Sun Devils added three more runs in the fourth with a three-hit rally to take a commanding six-run lead.

ASU junior starter Kramer Champlin (5-1) threw 6 1/3 innings of eight-hit, two-run baseball. In the second, Champlin got out of a first and third, no out situation without allowing a run.

“That was a big moment early in the game to set a tone,” he said. “Once we got the big lead I felt I didn’t need to be as fine; I could use more of the plate. It was a lot easier to pitch.”

Blackford record the final eight outs for the Sun Devils en route to an 8-2 victory.

Sunday ASU made sure the Cougars wouldn’t steal one on getaway day.

ASU scored three times in the second, once in the third, five in the sixth and once in the seventh to put the game out of reach.

Senior outfielder Matt Newman homered onto Rural Road in the second inning to begin the Sun Devil rout.

Six ASU starters knocked in runs Sunday.

“It was important to jump on them early to put them on their heels,” ASU junior third baseman Riccio Torrez said. “It’s tough if you lose the first two games and then find yourself down early on Sunday.”

After missing Friday and Saturday’s game with a minor injury, ASU sophomore shortstop Deven Marrero returned for the final game of the series and went 1-for-4.

Sophomore Jake Barrett (4-3) pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits.

Lambson and Williams combined to pitch the final frames to secure the game 10-4 Sun Devils.

Reach the reporter at tyler.emerick@asu.edu


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