Road woes continue as baseball swept by Stanford

ASU baseball headed to Palo Alto, Calif., this weekend just one game out of first place in the Pac-12, riding a six-game conference winning streak. But, as coach Tim Esmay pointed out, the Sun Devils could ill afford to not play well on the road.

“It doesn’t matter where we play, we can’t let home cooking make us feel good and then be on the road and feel like it’s a different ballgame, like the ball’s square now all of a sudden,” Esmay said after the team’s win over USC in Tempe on April 15. “We’ve got to make sure we stay committed to (playing the same on the road).”

ASU did just the opposite of that this weekend.

The No. 20 Sun Devils (24-16, 9-9 Pac-12) had their momentum zapped by the No. 10 Cardinal, as Stanford (25-10, 8-7 Pac-12) earned its first sweep of ASU since 1999 with three commanding victories at Sunken Diamond.

On Friday, Stanford hit ASU ace Brady Rodgers (6-2, 1.75 ERA) harder than any team has all season. En route to the eventual 17–5 loss — the most runs the Sun Devils have given up all year — the junior pitcher surrendered eight runs (six earned) on 12 hits through five and a third innings pitched.

The Sun Devils held a 3–2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, but the Cardinal’s sticks came alive in their final four at bats. Stanford put up three runs in the fifth and four runs in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings against an ASU bullpen that had been consistent leading up to Palo Alto.

Saturday’s contest was more competitive than the series opener, yet ASU once again came out on the wrong side of things via an 8–7 defeat. The Cardinal scored seven runs on 11 hits in six innings off the Sun Devils’ No. 2 starter, sophomore Trevor Williams (7-2, 2.20 ERA).

The Sun Devils showed more resolve in game two than they did Friday, as they battled back after being down 6–3 after six. ASU rallied with three runs in the seventh, with runs scored by junior shortstop Deven Marrero, junior second baseman Joey DeMichele and sophomore designated hitter James McDonald.

Down 7–6 heading into the ninth, ASU tied the ballgame in the top of the frame courtesy of sophomore third baseman Michael Benjamin’s two-out RBI hit down the left field line.

However, in the bottom of the frame, Stanford managed three hits and a run to hand junior closer Jake Barrett and the Sun Devils the loss. The two-out, game-winning knock came from Cardinal freshman third baseman Alex Blandino.

On Sunday, Stanford won 9–5 in a back-and-forth affair to bring out the brooms. The Sun Devils held a 4–2 lead after four and a half innings of play, but the difference maker was two three-run innings by Stanford in the fifth and the eighth.

The Sun Devils return to action this weekend at Packard Stadium when they host Washington State for a three-game set.

 

Reach the reporter at kjnewma2@asu.edu

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