Baseball rebounds with sweep of Oregon State

 

Amidst the program’s first four-game losing streak since May of 2005, this weekend’s home series against Oregon State provided a serious gut check for the ASU baseball team.

The No. 23 Sun Devils (19-12, 6-6 Pac-12) passed with flying colors with a sweep of the No. 17 Beavers (18-11, 6-6 Pac-12), including a come-from-behind victory in the final game of the series.

“We had all our guys behind us,” junior reliever Matthew Dunbar said, who threw a perfect ninth inning Thursday and tossed three and a third scoreless innings Saturday. “The whole bench and everybody was just trying to really get that sweep after being swept by Oregon last week.”

ASU took game one Thursday night as junior pitcher Brady Rodgers (5-1, 1.12 ERA) gave up a pair of unearned runs in eight innings to lead the Sun Devils to an 8–2 victory. Sophomore right fielder Kasey Coffman (three RBI), sophomore left fielder James McDonald (two RBI) and senior first baseman Abe Ruiz (two RBI) catalyzed a Sun Devil offense that was struggling coming into the contest.

“We’ve had base runners every game,” junior catcher Max Rossiter said. “We’ve just been waiting for that timely hit, and we haven’t been getting it. Luckily, this weekend, we came through.”

In Friday’s contest, ASU rode stellar starting pitching to a victory once again as sophomore Trevor Williams (6-2, 1.65 ERA) yielded two runs on four hits through seven innings to guide the Sun Devils to the win.

Juniors shortstop Deven Marrero and second baseman Joey DeMichele’s fifth-inning efforts at the plate proved to be the difference in the game. With two outs, Marrero tripled down the right field line to score two runs before DeMichele singled Marrero home in the following at bat.

ASU held on to win 3–2, with junior pitcher Jake Barrett setting the Beavers down in order in the ninth for his fourth save of the season. Barrett’s shutdown outings as of late indicate the right-hander is settling nicely into the closer role.

“He just wants to be out there,” coach Tim Esmay said. “He’s in control. Things don’t bother him, and he makes pitches. It’s the whole thing that you’re asking a kid to be in that type of position. He’s answered the bell.”

OSU made the Sun Devils work hard to earn the sweep on Saturday, as the Beavers held a 1–0 lead through seven and a half innings before the ASU offense exploded for a five-run eighth inning.

Ruiz and sophomore designated hitter James McDonald each had RBI singles to give ASU a 2–1 advantage before Rossiter busted the game wide open with a three-run dinger to make the score 5–1.

“Early in the game, we just couldn’t find any holes,” Rossiter said. “We had some bad at bats, some good ones. We just stuck with it, and at the end, everything came together. (If we) just keep grinding, our offense is good enough to put up runs late like that.”

After the successful weekend, ASU climbed a few spots in the Pac-12 standings. The Sun Devils now sit in a tie for fourth place, three games behind conference-leading UA.

“Our guys are starting to figure out that (the Pac-12) isn’t an easy deal,” Esmay said.  “It takes more than just going out and hoping you’re better than the other team. There’s a mental grind to this thing.”

ASU returns to action Monday against New Mexico for the first of a two-game set at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M. Both games start at 6 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on KDUS “The Fan” AM 1060.

 

Reach the reporter at kjnewma2@asu.edu

Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Click here to subscribe to the daily State Press email newsletter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.