If Tennessee Tech had any thoughts of pulling off a shocking series win on Sunday, those notions were quickly put to bed against an Arizona State team that brought everything it had up to the plate in the series finale. The Sun Devils exploded for 16 runs on 18 hits, scorching the Golden Eagles for a 16-4 win.
"The guys obviously didn't have a good taste in their mouths after last night," head coach Tracy Smith said. "I haven't been in a fight in a long time, but I know that sometimes getting punched in the jaw will wake you up and make you concentrate a little bit."
They woke up early, jumping on an overwhelmed and outmatched pitching staff. They plated two runs in the first inning off RBIs from Brian Serven and David Greer, and Serven added two more to their lead in the bottom of the third.
The sophomore catcher continued what would end up being a career day with a two RBI single to left field, scoring both Jake Peevyhouse and Colby Woodmansee. It was Peevhouse that gave the maroon and gold a five run advantage in the next inning, driving in a run with a base hit through the left side of the infield.
While a five run cushion may have felt like enough with the way starting pitcher Brett Lilek had been dealing, ASU's offense was far from done. The home team brought 15 men to the plate in the bottom half of the fifth, an inning that went from bad, to worse, to miserable for Tennessee Tech.
The Sun Devils plated nine runs in the frame before the defense even recorded an out, and another two would come in to score after that thanks to a sacrifice fly and a misplayed ball out in center field. By the time the inning was over, the maroon and gold held a 16-0 lead.
"I almost forgot what it looked like," Smith said when asked about extending an early lead. "This was the first time in a long time that we have done that."
At that point there was no need for Lilek (3-2) to continue throwing. The junior finished the afternoon with five strikeouts, earning the win after not allowing a run on four hits.
"He was good and sharp, and truth be told we would have sent him back out there if the lead hadn't been extended in the fifth," Smith said. "We need him to go out there and give us another good (performance) next weekend."
With such a big lead, Smith was able to call upon a few arms that do not typically see much action. Andrew Shaps and Hever Bueno worked the next two innings, each giving up a couple of runs as they worked to shake off some of the midseason rust.
"We're just still trying to find roles," said Smith. "Nothing is etched in stone yet."
The large advantage also meant a much more conservative approach on the basepaths as Arizona State tried to not run up the score. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Smith chose to hold Coltin Gerhart at third base on a wild pitch instead of letting him score the easy run.
"I think there's a right way and a wrong way to play the game," said Smith. "When you're up 12, I think that's enough. We are not going to try and embarrass anybody."
The game came to a close with freshman righty Grant Schneider on the mound for the Sun Devils. Working in just his second appearance of the season, Schneider only faced the minimum despite issuing a one out walk. He rolled up a 4-6-3 double play ball to finish the game, earning himself the rare 12-run save.
Serven finished the day with six RBIs, a career high for the sophomore. He scored two runs himself and ended up with three hits in four at-bats.
While last night's head-scratching, 7-4 loss certainly wasn't supposed to be a part of the equation this weekend, the team should be content with their ninth series victory of the season.
Up next is a trip to Tucson on Tuesday night against rival Arizona, where right-hander Ryan Hingst will get the start on the mound. First pitch is set for 6:00 PM.