Ducks complete upset bid with sweep of Sun Devils

On a cold, rainy weekend in Eugene, Ore., No. 14 ASU managed just four runs in three games en route to being swept by No. 23 Oregon.

Juniors second baseman Joey DeMichele and centerfielder Andrew Aplin were the only players for the Sun Devils (16-12, 3-6 Pac-12) to record an RBI in a series in which ASU’s lack of hitting proved to be its downfall.

“It was a difficult weekend,” coach Tim Esmay said in a radio interview with KDUS The Fan 1060 after game three. “It was frustrating. We just can’t string any good at bats (together). We get a good at bat, a good at bat, then we get an inexperienced at bat.”

With Friday’s contest rained out, the teams played a doubleheader on Saturday. The Ducks (18-8, 6-3 Pac-12) took the first game 1–0 thanks to a sixth-inning home run by sophomore right fielder Aaron Jones.

Jones’ dinger, as well as the dominance of Ducks’ senior right-hander Alex Keudell (complete game, four hits, two walks), spoiled yet another outstanding performance from ASU junior Brady Rodgers (4-1, 1.29 ERA). The junior allowed just four hits in eight innings, but was tagged with his first loss of the year.

Oregon then defeated the Sun Devils’ No. 2 starter, sophomore Trevor Williams, in the latter half of the doubleheader. Williams (5-2, 1.51 ERA) allowed three runs on six hits through seven innings as ASU eventually fell 3–1, with DeMichele hitting a ninth-inning solo home run to avoid the shutout.

“(Rodgers and Williams) are about as good as they get in the (Pac-12), and we’ve got to score some runs,” Esmay said. “We just didn’t have good, fluid at bats day in and day out. In my opinion, out of 27 innings, we swung the bat decent in a whole inning for maybe one or two (innings) out of that whole series. You’re not going to win a whole lot of ballgames when you do it that way.”

The Sun Devils’ sticks didn’t fare any better on Sunday, either, as Oregon handed a 4–3 defeat to ASU. This time, freshman Darin Gillies (0-3, 4.44 ERA) was bested by the Ducks’ sophomore Brando Tessar (6.1 IP, no hits, no runs). The only scoring by the Sun Devils came via Aplin’s RBI single in the seventh and DeMichele’s two-RBI single in the ninth.

Besides the anemic hitting, stranding runners was also a problem for ASU this weekend. The Sun Devils stranded 11 on Sunday and left a total of 18 men on board in the series, including a bases-loaded opportunity in the ninth inning of game three.

“It just seems like, during the course of an inning, we get one or two guys that don’t stay committed to the plan, and we’d get a bad at bat,” Esmay said.

ASU returns to action with a three-game series at home against Oregon State this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first pitch for game one is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Packard Stadium.

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