It was far from the cleanest played game of the year for the Sun Devils (19-0, 3-0 Pac-12) who emerged victorious for the 19th time this season, taking down Washington State (6-13, 0-3) 6-5 to sweep the weekend series, making it their fifth series win of the season.
In spite of the win, there were several mistakes and a good portion of sloppy play throughout the game. The Devils committed two errors on the afternoon to go along with an eighth inning defensive miscue from shortstop Alika Williams and left fielder Trevor Hauver that led to a WSU double in the top of the eighth inning. Additionally, the team finished innings while leaving multiple runners on base five different times throughout the afternoon, often playing themselves into trouble.
However, sometimes finding ways to win these type of games when the play of the team is not at its highest can be beneficial to a roster, with this squad pulling out a win that maybe would not have ended in the same result a year ago.
“We had a lot of mistakes and we’re not real happy about that,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “But that said, when you can do those things and still find a way to grind out a win, it tells you you’re learning how to win.”
The game consisted of three lead changes through the first three innings, but the Devils finally busted loose in the mid innings, thanks to a Drew Swift RBI single in the bottom of the fifth and RBI knocks from Hunter Bishop and Alika Williams in the sixth. It would ultimately give them their sixth and game winning run.
“I was just ready to go back in,” Swift said. “I was ready to go.”
It was Swift’s first game back in action since Feb. 26 vs Pepperdine, 11 games and 19 days ago. But the sophomore wasted no time with a three-for-four day to compliment the four-for-four outing of his double-play partner Williams, as the two were responsible for seven of the 12 hits.
“When they’re getting it done with the gloves and then they do that offensively at the latter end of our lineup, I think that’s what makes us a different team,” Smith said.
The other positive outlook from Sunday’s win was the performance of Erik Tolman after a shaky performance Saturday night. After only recoding one out in game two of the series, the southpaw turned around with 2.1 scoreless frames to go along with four punchouts. After not having struggled much before that point, Smith was happy to see a quick bounce-back from his freshman.
“I just think he kind of got back to being Erik Tolman today,” Smith said. “Pitching aggressively, not thinking about things that he can’t control. When he’s locating his fastball and throwing that hard breaking ball he’s pretty tough to hit.”
The game ended in dramatic fashion, with Chaz Montoya being called upon to record the final out with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth. The other lefty on the club battled down and punched out left-handed hitting Kyle Manzardo to put a wrap on things.
“I was going to come in and throw as hard as I could,” Montoya said with a laugh. “Bases loaded, one-run game, two outs, that’s pretty much my job, get that guy out any means necessary.”
Arizona State now stands as the lone undefeated team in Division I baseball, with North Carolina State dropping their contest to Florida State 7-5 on Sunday afternoon. The 19-0 start is tied with the 2008 season for the third strongest in the history of the program.
The Devils will be back at Phoenix Municipal Wednesday night as they welcome in the California Baptist Lancers for a midweek showdown. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.