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Baseball takes two of three from Stanford

Another Series Win: ASU junior pitcher Kramer Champlin takes pitch signals during the Sun Devils game against Washington State on April 16. Champlin took the loss after giving up five runs, three earned, in ASU’s second game against Stanford over the weekend. (Photo by Lisa Bartoli)
Another Series Win: ASU junior pitcher Kramer Champlin takes pitch signals during the Sun Devils game against Washington State on April 16. Champlin took the loss after giving up five runs, three earned, in ASU’s second game against Stanford over the weekend. (Photo by Lisa Bartoli)

New battles, same outcome.

Each week the ASU baseball team continues to find unlikely ways to win ball games.

This weekend against Stanford was no different.

The No. 7 Sun Devils (31-10, 13-5 Pac-10) took two of three from the No. 25 Cardinal (21-16, 6-9 Pac-10) behind two stellar starting pitching outings and a three home run performance from an unsung hero.

“There’s a lot of trust I have in these guys because they’ve already proven what they can do,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said. “They sense when they have to put on the throttle. This year has given us new battles and great teams play through them.”

Friday’s game had all the makings of a classic Pac-10 pitcher’s duel with ASU sophomore Brady Rodgers meeting Stanford sophomore Mark Appel.

And for most of the way, it looked like that’s what fans would get.

Stanford struck first in the third inning with three runs, only two of which were earned.

ASU sophomore shortstop Deven Marrero committed the costly error.

The Sun Devils answered in their half of the inning with RBI singles from junior second baseman Zack MacPhee and sophomore designated hitter Joey DeMichele.

The two teams exchanged single runs in the fourth inning before both starters got in their groove.

Trailing 4-3 in the seventh, it seemed like ASU was going to have to manufacture a couple runs in order to pull out the victory.

The team ended up doing much more than that.

The Sun Devils scored nine times in the seventh and eighth to take a commanding lead heading into the ninth.

ASU junior third baseman Riccio Torrez knocked in four of the runs with a triple and a single.

“We needed some insurance runs but we ended up getting a lot of insurance,” he said. “It goes to show you when you have the chance to score you have to take the opportunities and get as many as possible.”

The Cardinal scored five times in the ninth off of ASU junior closer Mitchell Lambson but came up just short, falling 12-10.

Rodgers (6-2) earned the win after completing seven innings and surrendering two earned runs.

“I just tried to keep the team in the game because we were down for a lot of it,” he said. “I felt like I hit my stride after a while. I had a bit of an adrenaline rush seeing the great defense behind me.”

The Sun Devils continued their hot hitting early in Saturday’s game.

ASU scored twice in the first inning but went cold thereafter.

Stanford tied the score in the third and then took the lead in the fourth after Torrez committed a throwing error with two outs allowing two Cardinal runners to cross home safely.

The Sun Devils scored once in the sixth but Stanford pushed two runs across in the eighth to take a three score lead.

ASU got one back in the eighth but was shut down in the ninth and took the 6-4 loss.

“They beat us in all facets,” Esmay said. “We made a couple costly errors and we didn’t execute.”

The loss snapped the Sun Devils eight-game winning streak.

“They played good baseball and got hits at the right time,” Marrero said. “We just couldn’t answer back. They outplayed us.”

ASU junior Kramer Champlin (6-2) received the loss after throwing seven innings and allowing three earned runs.

The team bounced back on Sunday with a complete effort.

The offense was potent and the pitching was deadly.

Performances from DeMichele and sophomore starter Jake Barrertt were particularly stunning.

DeMichele hit home runs in the first, fifth and seventh innings, all to right field, to knock in five runs.

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard each time,” he said. “It was pretty exciting in the dugout afterwards."

DeMichele had just two home runs all season prior to hitting three long balls Sunday.

The last time a Sun Devil accomplished the feat was in 2005 when Jeff Larish did it at the College World Series against Nebraska.

“He had a tough day [Saturday] and [Sunday] he made the adjustments,” Esmay said. “He was ready as soon as he got in the box. Anytime they got a ball up on him, he was swinging and made them pay.”

On the other side of the ball, Barrett (6-3) threw eight innings of one run, eight hit baseball while striking out 10.

“I was trying to be aggressive with my fastball and get on their right-handed batters,” he said. “When you have a guy like Joey hitting all those homers, it gives you a ton of energy on the mound.”

Lambson pitched a scoreless ninth inning to seal the 7-1 win.

Next up the Sun Devils will host Brigham Young on Monday and Tuesday at Packard Stadium.

Marrero hurt

In the second inning Sunday, star shortstop Deven Marrero singled to center field but was injured at first base.

The sophomore stayed in the game for another inning, but was pinch-hit for the next time his spot came up in the lineup.

“We will reevaluate tomorrow,” Esmay said. “Right now it looks like a mild ankle sprain that tightened up on him. His lateral movement wasn’t too good so we had to make a change.”

Marrero is bating just shy of .340 this season.

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