After losing in comeback fashion earlier in the day to Cal State Bakersfield, nerves were high when Purdue came into Phoenix Municipal Stadium and jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Arizona State.
"I can't play anymore," head coach Tracy Smith said when asked about what he told the team after falling behind. "I wish I could, but at some point it has to come from within. We can talk and we can coach, but eventually it comes down to guys performing consistently in big situations."
Performed they did, as the Sun Devils quickly found themselves and scored three runs to answer the early outburst by the Boilermakers. The scoring began on a balk that brought R.J. Ybarra in from third, and it was a pair of young players stuck at the bottom of the batting order that then tied the game as both Zach Cerbo and Andrew Snow laced singles to center field to drive in two runs.
The visitors battled back in the next frame for a couple runs of their own as Arizona State starter Brett Lilek opened the inning with a walk, single, and two wild pitches. That was enough to give the Boilermakers the lead, and they added an extra run on an RBI groundout from Kyle Johnson.
Just as they did in the second, the Sun Devils responded nicely. Ybarra and Colby Woodmansee reached with a couple of singles to open the frame, and they were moved into scoring position on a sacrifice groundout from Dalton DiNatale. Both would end up coming home on a deep sacrifice fly and a single that just stayed fair down the first base line, and just like that the maroon and gold had once again pulled even.
After a quick fourth inning, the maroon and gold saw their best offensive output of the season in the fifth. 13 men came to the plate as Arizona State battered the Purdue defense for nine runs. The Sun Devils simply did what good teams are supposed to do against an overmatched pitcher. Swinging at anything they could get their bats on, the team had six singles and a double in the frame. The Boilermaker third baseman also booted a pair of grounders that came his way, which only compounded the situation. By the time they finally got all three outs, Purdue found themselves in a 14-5 hole.
Coach Smith used the rest of the game to tinker with the lineup and throw some young arms out of the bullpen. Eli Lingos, Andrew Shaps, and Grant Schneider each thew for one inning, and none of them allowed a hit against a crestfallen Purdue lineup along the way. Shaps, a freshman southpaw out of Paradise Valley, struck out the side in the eighth.
"I thought they were being aggressive," Smith said. "It's different pitching ten runs up than in a tight ballgame, but hopefully it helped those guys grow into their roles."
Long reliever Eder Erives (1-0) ended up getting the win for the maroon and gold. He tossed a solid 3.1 scoreless innings out of the pen while fanning four Boilermakers. Haan (0-2) was charged with the loss.
Arizona State will play their Phoenix Muni Classic finale tomorrow afternoon against Gonzaga. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 PM and left-hander Ryan Kellogg will get the start on the mound.