Andrew Aplin isn’t a prototypical leadoff man. Sure, he’s equipped with plenty of speed, but he’s also got pop in his swing that makes him a threat to drive the ball anywhere on the diamond.
The junior center fielder showcased his versatility over the ASU baseball team’s weekend series at Long Beach State, reaching base five times, stealing a base, scoring four runs and driving in two, one of which was game-winning.
Behind Aplin’s stellar weekend, the No. 11 Sun Devils (10-4) took two out of three games against the Dirtbags (5-10).
The three games were the first ASU time has played outside of its home state this season.
Friday’s game got the series started on a dramatic note.
The Sun Devils put a run up on the board in the first inning when Aplin hit a RBI single to right field. ASU freshman right fielder Trever Allen added to his team’s lead an inning later with a sacrifice fly to put the Sun Devils up 2–0.
Long Beach State answered in its half of the frame with an RBI groundout by sophomore second baseman Jeff McNeil, scoring the first earned run of the season off of ASU junior right-handed pitcher Brady Rodgers.
In the fifth inning, the Dirtbags tied the game at two after senior catcher Kellen Hoime singled home a run.
Rodgers ended up pitching nine innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs and striking out seven, but didn’t factor into the decision.
Still tied in the 12th, Aplin delivered a two out, RBI single to right field to drive in the game winning run. ASU junior right-handed pitcher Jake Barrett (2-1) threw three relief innings and recorded the final three outs to earn the win for the Sun Devils, 3–2.
ASU’s fortunes weren’t as good on Saturday. In the first three innings, Long Beach State scored six runs off of ASU junior right-handed pitcher Alex Blackford and freshman right-handed pitcher Darin Gillies to blow the game open early.
In the fifth inning, the Sun Devils tried to mount a comeback, scoring three times, highlighted by ASU sophomore left fielder Kasey Coffman’s two-RBI single. However, the Dirtbags responded their next at bat with a run of their own to put the game out of reach.
Even though the Sun Devils only recorded one less hit than Long Beach State, they left eight runners on base and fell 7–3.
In the rubber match Sunday, ASU jumped out to a 2–0 lead in its first at bat, thanks to a two-RBI single by Allen with two outs and the bases loaded. The Dirtbags got a run back in the bottom half of the inning with the help of a throwing error by ASU sophomore third baseman Michael Benjamin.
The Sun Devils added single runs in the third and fifth off of sacrifice flies by ASU senior first baseman Abe Ruiz to take a 4–1 advantage.
After extending their lead to 6–1 in the ninth on an Aplin triple and Coffman single, the Sun Devils closed out the game and series with Barrett retiring the Dirtbags in their final at bat.
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