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Offensive explosion for Sun Devils buries Wildcats

(Photo: Courtney Pedroza/WCSN)

Wednesday afternoon’s meeting between Arizona State and their in-state rival University of Arizona provided a bit of deja vu for both clubs.

Entering the day, the last time the Sun Devils scored 10 runs in an inning was on April 29, 2009 against none other than the Wildcats. They accomplished the feat again in the sixth-inning on Wednesday en route to a 14-6 victory over Arizona, handing the Cats their seventh straight loss.

Arizona State began sixth inning trailing 6-4, but tied the game before the Wildcats could register an out, then proceeded to tack on eight more runs without being retired.

Colby Woodmansee, Johnny Sewald, Drew Stankiewicz, Jake Peevyhouse, Christopher Beall and Dalton DiNatale each recorded an RBI in the inning, while Brian Serven knocked in two. The Sun Devils needed just six hits in the frame and did not record an extra-base hit.

“It’s nice to be a part of it,” Peevyhouse said of the inning. “[We had] a lot of quality at-bats, people just trying to commit to first base, not trying to do too much with their at-bat. We just had confidence the next guy is gonna keeping doing the same thing you are.”

Mistakes were the Achilles heel for the Wildcats in the sixth, as two runs were scored via passed balls, and another was tacked on when Peevyhouse was hit by a pitch. They also committed two crucial errors in the inning and failed to even force a play at the plate despite five chances due to lackluster throws from the outfield.

The Sun Devils trailed 6-1 after the Wildcats registered three runs in the top of the fifth, but immediately responded with a rally of their own. Nate Causey’s single in bottom half of the inning scored Stankiewicz for ASU’s third run of the inning, matching the Wildcats and bringing the Sun Devils within two, 6-4.

“The fifth inning was about as big of a game-changer as you can make,” ASU head coach Tim Esmay said following the win. “All of a sudden, we had great at-bats and responded in that inning to get ourselves back in striking distance. It was huge.”

Causey led the way for ASU on the day with four hits, while Serven recorded a team-high three RBIs.

Peevyhouse scored three runs in the game, the most on the team, though it was his all-around play that was most impactful. After being benched early in the season, the junior outfielder seems to have returned to form.

“Of course it’s always tough not being in the lineup, but you just gotta stay disciplined to what you’re doing and know when you get your shot you just gotta be ready for it,” Peevyhouse said. “You just gotta keep going with your routine and everything, just stay confident and when you get your shot, just be confident knowing that you’re getting your shot for a reason.”

Seth Martinez made his second start of the season for ASU and lasted 4 1/3 innings while surrendering five runs, four earned, and five hits.

Jordan Aboites earned the victory for the maroon-and-gold, his third of the season. He threw 2 2/3 innings of relief, struck out two and did not allow a baserunner.

This marks the third win in a row for the Sun Devils, following a skid in which they lost four out of five. They have improved their record to 13-10 and now sit at 4-3 in Pac-12 Conference play.

After struggling early in the season to string together quality at-bats, the young and inexperienced Sun Devils seem to have figured some of their troubles out.

“Hopefully these guys start to learn that this game is not easy to play,” Esmay said. “It’s tough to play a perfect game. You’re going to have mistakes, you’re going to have errors, you’re going to have wild pitches, you’re going to have all that happen in a game.”

“The whole situation is ‘let’s not let that define us, let’s move on to the next one, let’s get the next one and let’s make a big pitch, let’s get a double-play, let’s do some things to allow us to stay in the fight.’ Hopefully our guys are starting to feel that today. I could feel that today.”

Arizona State now heads on the road to battle the defending national champions, the UCLA Bruins (15-8, 5-1), for a three-game series.

The set kicks off Friday night at 6 p.m. in Los Angeles. The game’s starters have not yet been announced.

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