ASU baseball evens series behind 2-run home runs

Colby Woodmansee and David Greer each hit a late home run to give the Sun Devils their fourth Pac-12 victory.

ASU baseball was down 3-2 against Washington heading to the bottom of the seventh inning and looked to be on the verge of losing yet another Pac-12 series. Then, it got the timely big hit it has often struggled to get this season.

Junior shortstop Colby Woodmansee launched a two-run home run over the left field fence to give the Sun Devils their first lead of the game. 

An inning after Woodmansee's (3-for-5, 3 RBI) fourth homer of the year, junior first baseman David Greer hit a two-run shot of his own to extend the lead to 6-3. This would stand as the final as ASU (17-11, 4-7 Pac-12) evened the series with Saturday's win over Washington (15-11, 6-5).

Woodmansee said he hopes the two home runs will kickstart the Sun Devils in the big hits category, which he called the team's "achilles heel" to this point. 

"I thought it was a fastball until after the game when someone told me it was a changeup," Woodmansee said of his home run pitch. "I was just trying to get my foot down early, I was out in front a little bit, and put it in the air..."

Eder Erives made his second start of the season for the Sun Devils and once again stepped up, giving up just two earned runs on five hits and striking out nine in seven innings and 107 total pitches. 

His impressive performance was similar to his first start in which he gave up two earned runs and struck out 11 batters in seven innings at Washington State. 

Head coach Tracy Smith said Erives did a great job of changing speeds against the Washington lineup all afternoon, which also led to the strikeouts.

"He held us in there, and gave us a chance to win," Smith said. "I thought he was stellar again in that starting role, and we needed it because we're not real deep on the mound and we need our starters to go deep into the game."

Two of Erives' four walks came around to score early. Both were driven in by Washington's John Naff. 

On Friday, ASU didn't have the run support to back up another solid performance from junior Seth Martinez. However, a .421 batting average with runners on base on Saturday flipped the script as the Sun Devils set up a rubber match. 

In addition to Woodmansee's strong performance at the plate, Greer went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and junior catcher Brian Serven went 2-for-4 with and drove in a run. 

Smith said the team's at-bats were much more focused and the plate discipline was improved from the previous night's loss. 

"Guys were more relaxed," he said. "We talked a lot between last night's game and today's game that it's your team, and good players get the big hits when we need the big hits. Not going to do it all the time, but we haven't had a lot of them lately ... Multiple guys, I thought, stepped up today." 

ASU erased the early deficit with an RBI single from Serven in the fourth inning, and one from Woodmansee in the fifth. After Woodmansee's hit and an error, Serven had the bases loaded with two outs in that fifth inning, but struck out. 

Washington's John Naff added to a stellar afternoon with a leadoff double in the seventh, setting the table for him to eventually score on a fielder's choice to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead. 

After Erives' exit, sophomore right-hander Ryan Hingst pitched two scoreless innings to preserve the lead and earned his first-career save. 

Smith mentioned the chance of rainfall during Sunday afternoon, but said it wouldn't affect the pitching staff because he was planning on needing to use multiple pitchers regardless. At this point, ASU does not have the luxury of being able to worry about the next game, Smith said. It is not in position to do that while it tries to climb out of the early conference hole. 

However, the team's demeanor on Saturday perhaps provides a bit of optimism moving forward. Smith said Jason Robbins, ASU's strength and conditioning coach, came up to him and told him the pregame stretch was the most focused one he had seen in a long time. 

"I think it's just guys realizing it's important, there's a proud tradition here, we haven't been living up to that, it's time to change it," Smith said. "What was happening up to this point was not indicative of what this program stands for."

Reach the reporter at or on Twitter @justintoscano3.

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