PHOENIX — The Arizona State Sun Devils (15-18, 4-10 Pac-12) rode an incredible offensive performance in the early frames and survived a late rally to beat Washington State (15-16, 2-9), 10-7, Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The Sun Devils’ offense exploded in the bottom half of the first, combining for six runs on six hits.
Sophomore Gage Canning led off for the Devils with a single to left field and scored on an ensuing Andrew Shaps single and an error in right field. Shaps came around to score on a sacrifice fly from catcher Zac Cerbo and extended the Arizona State lead to two. Junior Andrew Snow continued the frame with a two-out double scoring Lyle Lin, who reached on his first of two walks against WSU starter Ryan Walker.
Still in the first inning, the Sun Devils weren’t done as freshman infielder Carter Aldrete smacked his third home run of the season, a deep fly ball to right-center, scoring himself and Snow. Before Walker recorded his final out of the inning, Hunter Bishop tripled down the left field line and scored on an infield bunt single from Jeremy McCuin, and the ASU lead increased to 6-0.
ASU head coach Tracy Smith noted how important getting off to a good start was for the team.
“It helps from an offensive standpoint that guys can settle in and not press while behind,” Smith said. “But also from a pitcher’s standpoint, every pitch isn’t as critical now and you can go out there and free-flow and fill up the strike zone.”
The Cougars’ starter was finally chased in the third inning after Aldrete tallied his third RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly scoring Cerbo from third. The junior right-hander finished with just 2 2⁄3 innings pitched, allowing seven hits, seven earned runs and tallying just two strikeouts.
Arizona State starter Eder Erives delivered an impressive outing on limited rest shutting the Cougars out over 3 2⁄3 innings while adding two punch-outs and three walks.
“He wasn’t real efficient,” Smith said on Erives. “But I was really proud of him for going out and giving what he had. He put up zeros on the board, and you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Cerbo added his second sacrifice fly of the night in the bottom of the fourth as Shaps came around to score and extend the lead 8-0 in favor of the Sun Devils. An inning later, McCuin hit his first home run of the season on a line drive just over the wall putting ASU up 10-0.
It was the shortstop’s first home run batting right-handed, and McCuin admitted it was a special moment.
“I came into the dugout and they were just standing on the railing like it was the same old thing,” McCuin said. “Then they came and mobbed me. It was fun.”
However, Washington State rallied in the seventh inning.
After an RBI single from sophomore Cory Meyer that cut the ASU lead to nine in the sixth, the Cougars would go on to score six runs in the next frame.
Two hits and a sacrifice fly from WSU to start the inning chased ASU reliever James Ryan, who finished with 2 2⁄3 innings pitched, allowing three earned runs on five hits.
Junior Grant Schneider came in to relieve Ryan and struggled with his command allowing two walks, three hits and four runs to come across without recording an out.
While Smith praised his team’s performance offensively, he made sure that his bullpen’s poor performance didn’t go unnoticed.
“When you’re up 10 with three innings to go, the game should be over,” Smith said. “I wasn’t real happy with a big lead and walking people in three-ball counts and in the number of mistakes we made on the bump.”
Smith then sent in junior Ryan Hingst who recorded the final three outs of the inning, but not before allowing two unearned runs on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch.
Hingst was dominant in his outing for the Sun Devils on Friday night and noted his chemistry with Cerbo as well as the defense behind him as a big reason why.
“Once me and Cerbo get in a groove and you know you have that defense behind you it kind of makes it fun,” Hingst said. “You can just go out there and throw strikes and it speeds up the game.”
Hingst remained in the game until the final out shutting out the Cougars in the final two frames to solidify ASU’s fourth Pac-12 victory of the season.
The Sun Devils will look to sweep Washington State and extend their three-game win streak to four tomorrow in the final game of the series at 12:30 p.m.