PHOENIX — By a score of 9-6, Arizona State (20-24, 6-14 Pac-12) took down No. 13 Stanford (30-13, 13-8 Pac-12) as the Sun Devils put an end to the Cardinal’s nation leading 11-game win streak.
The win was characterized by an early offensive explosion from the Sun Devils against one of the nation’s best pitching units. Arizona State scored nine runs on 12 hits against Stanford’s 3.20 ERA that ranked 17th in the country coming into the series.
The win followed the departure of five Sun Devils from the team on Saturday. Andrew Shaps was dismissed from the program, while Zach Dixon, Chris Isbell, Ryan Lillard and Jackson Willeford left on their own.
“Yesterday, guys were not there mentally,” Smith said. “I like what I saw out of the guys today. I like how they played. I like how they were into each other and had a little bit of fun out there.”
Leading the pack offensively was Zach Cerbo who went 3-for-4 stacking together a career-high four RBI performance. Rather than being overly wound up by those who left or stayed with the program, Cerbo addressed the Sun Devils simply need to play the game.
“We have, what is it 11 games left? Eleven games left in the season give or take playoffs, but it’s one of those things where we’re just trying to focus on these last 11 games and leave it all on the line and push all the distractions aside because we can’t control it,” Cerbo said. “It’s out of our hands. We’re going to just go out and play baseball.”
Andrew Snow (2-for-4), Carter Aldrete (2-for-3) and Lyle Lin (2-for-4) aided to the fire powered offense each putting together multi hit performances.
Twice the Sun Devils made use of bases loaded situations supplying to their offensive production.
In the first inning, Tyler Williams hit a 2-RBI single with the bases jammed that led to an Aldrete RBI double and a Cerbo 2-RBI single. The Sun Devils led 5-1.
In the third, Cerbo bounced a 2-RBI bases loaded single, and Jeremy McCuin followed him with an RBI sac fly that gave Arizona State an 8-5 lead. Andrew Snow scored in the fourth off a wild pitch.
While Arizona State’s offense was what put the Sun Devils ahead of the Cardinal, it was reliever Connor Higgins’s tremendous pitching that ultimately kept ASU ahead in the game. Earning the win, he threw 7.2 innings on six hits and one earned run. It was his longest performance for the Maroon and Gold.
In what was also notably one of his best acts on the mound, Smith noted to Higgins not traveling with the team to face then-No. 1 TCU, sitting on the bench for some time and then blossoming late in the season.
“He worked his tail off,” Smith said. “The greatest motivator in the world is the bench... To his credit, he embraced that, he understood it and therefore turned it around.”
“[It] was nothing real mechanical. He just needed to be a little bit more aggressive.”
Higgins replaced starter Spencer Van Scoyoc who lasted just 1.1 innings after giving up one run as he allowed four walks and hit a batter.
Following Smith’s comments on Higgins, Higgins had complements of his own for his pitching coach and manager.
“I know Skip has gotten a lot of bad rep being the pitching coach, but I really like Skip as a pitching coach.” Higgins said. “He’s really helped me get the ball down in the zone. That’s what helped me be successful today with ground balls [and] sometimes just getting a little lazy pop out.”
Arizona State’s win puts the Sun Devils a half game behind Washington State for 11th in the Pac-12. ASU travels to Tuscon, Ariz. to face sixth-placed Arizona on Tuesday at 6 p.m.