SURPRISE — A day after finding every gap at Surprise Stadium in a 14-run blowout, the ASU baseball team couldn’t buy a hit with a runner on base Sunday.
The No. 11 Sun Devils (8-4) left 16 runners on base and lost to Saint Mary’s 4–3 in 11 innings in the finale of the Coca-Cola Classic.
“We had our opportunities,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said. “We just couldn’t get a big hit and we struck out too much with guys in scoring position. We pitched well enough (and) played good defense, but didn’t finish at bats.”
For the tournament, the team finished with a 3-1 record with wins over Saint Louis, Northern Illinois and Winthrop.
“It was a good test for us as we go forward,” Esmay said. “I’m happy with the weekend. The loss was a tough one because I felt we let it get away from us, but as a whole, we played pretty good baseball.”
After cruising past Saint Louis on Thursday, ASU faced a difficult challenge Friday from winless Northern Illinois.
The Sun Devils got on the board first in the second inning when sophomore catcher Beau Maggi hit an RBI single to score sophomore designated hitter James McDonald.
The Huskies (0-11) countered an inning later to take the lead on a two-RBI single from senior infielder Troy White. In the bottom of the frame, the Sun Devils tied the score with an RBI base hit from junior shortstop Deven Marrero.
After Marrero gave ASU the lead in the fifth with a solo homer, Northern Illinois tied the game in the sixth off of junior right-handed pitcher Alex Blackford, who threw seven innings and struck out 10.
The score remained tied at three until the bottom of the ninth, when ASU senior first baseman Abe Ruiz hit a single down the right field line with two outs to score junior second baseman Joey DeMichele from first to win the game 4–3.
ASU junior left-handed pitcher Matt Dunbar (1-0) pitched the final two innings to earn the victory.
On Saturday, the Sun Devils didn’t have to wait around until their last at bat to seal the game. Instead, they jumped out to an early 6–0 lead in the first inning against Winthrop and never looked back.
ASU scored one run in the third, three in the fourth, six in the fifth and one in the seventh to put up a 16 spot against the Eagles (1-11).
DeMichele led the team with five RBI and three runs scored, while sophomore third baseman Michael Benjamin went a career-best 5-for-5 at the plate.
ASU sophomore right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams (3-0) hurled six innings, allowing just four hits and two unearned runs off four errors to help the Sun Devils win 16–2.
Marrero, one of ASU’s most important players, was unable to play Sunday against Saint Mary’s after injuring his ankle Saturday.
Trailing 1–0 in the third inning, Ruiz tied the game on a double to left field, then freshman designated hitter Rouric Bridgewater gave the Sun Devils a lead with a single to score Ruiz.
Two frames later, Bridgewater came through, this time with a base hit to right field to score DeMichele and give ASU a 3–1 advantage.
The Gaels (8-4) tied the game up in the sixth off of senior left-handed pitcher Adrian Gomez, but left a runner in scoring position.
Still tied 3–3 in the bottom of the ninth, DeMichele tripled with one out to put the winning run within 90 feet of home plate. Saint Mary’s walked the next two batters to put Bridgewater up with the bases loaded, but he hit a grounder to the pitcher for an inning-ending double play.
After a scoreless tenth inning, Saint Mary’s used a triple and a sacrifice fly off of ASU junior right-handed pitcher Jake Barrett (0-1) to take a 4–3 lead over the Sun Devils.
In the bottom of the inning, ASU worked two runners on base, but Benjamin flied out to end the game.
“All of our opponents saved their best arms for us this week,” Esmay said. “That’s good for us. We have a target on our backs when we come here.”
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