(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
A series win for Arizona State was the goal on the road against Stanford. A sweep, while not out of the question, would have been a stretch based on the Sun Devils play in Pac-12 games. However, that is exactly what ASU accomplished on the road trip to Palo Alto. It was the first sweep of Stanford on the road since 1997 for ASU.
The trio of victories put them at an even 9-9 in the Pac-12 and 23-14 overall. Over their last six conference games, the Sun Devils have posted a 5-1 record, with the only loss coming in extra innings against Cal.
As was the case in the Cal series, Tracy Smith mixed and matched his pitchers well enough to get the victory, even though the second-year head coach has lacked depth all season at the position. Freshmen Gage Canning and Tyler Wiliams also continued their offensive tear, which has really helped Smith solidify the bottom of the lineup.
Game 1: Arizona State 3, Stanford 2
With the constant lack of pitching depth, the Sun Devils were once again relying on Seth Martinez to pitch another fantastic game, which is what he was able to do.
In fact, Martinez threw his second complete game of the season, allowing just two earned runs against a Stanford offense that ranks second-to-last in the Pac-12 in team batting average. He also improved his ERA to 1.89, which ranks fifth in the conference among eligible pitchers.
He has sometimes struggled to get run support this season, which was the case again up until the seventh inning, when Williams tied the game with an RBI single and Andrew Shaps broke the 2-2 score with a sacrifice fly. Williams also had a RBI single in the second inning for ASU’s first run of the game.
Martinez’s outing proved especially important because it saved Eder Erives, who has pitched more innings this season than Smith and his coaching staff would have liked. It also gave the bullpen an extra day of rest, which kept them fresh for Saturday’s marathon.
Game 2: Arizona State 9, Stanford 6
A five-run seventh inning keyed the Sun Devils series clinching victory in a seesaw affair.
The inning was highlighted by home runs by Andrew Shaps and Gage Canning, two players who aren’t known for their power. It was the first home run in each of their collegiate careers. Ryan Lillard also added an RBI single that tied the game, while a two-run double by Brian Serven broke it open. Serven had three of the ten hits ASU collected in the game.
Andrew Snow gave the Sun Devils their initial lead in the fifth inning with a two-run double, before the Cardinal scored three runs to re-take the lead, which came prior to the explosive seventh inning from ASU.
Starting pitcher Eli Lingos ate up enough innings, but was far from sharp. In 5 and 1/3, he allowed five earned runs and six hits. He made way from Grant Schneider and Tucker Baca, who each got an out, before Erives tossed three innings to earn his fifth save of the season. Baca ended up getting his first win of the season of the season, despite recording just one out.
Saturday marked the team leading 15th time Erives has pitched this season, and he is behind only Martinez in innings pitched, despite starting just two games the entire season.
Game 3: Arizona State 8, Stanford 7 (10 innings)
The second consecutive back-and-forth battle was headlined by two home runs from Colby Woodmansee and a go-ahead home run by Brian Serven in the 10th inning.
Williams and Canning also continued their resurgence, each with a timely hit in the game. As a team, the Sun Devils hit six doubles, with Andrew Shaps responsible for two of them.
ASU used six pitchers in the game. Zach Dixon got his second start, and didn’t have the same success he did the first time, when he threw a complete game shutout against Cal. Dixon allowed six runs (three earned) over four innings, surrendering six hits without any strikeouts.
He was picked up by the Sun Devils’ bullpen, which allowed no earned runs in six innings of work. Jordan Aboites, who has typically been a starter this season, entered in relief and mirrored Erives’ work from the night before, allowing only one unearned run in three innings, getting his third win of the season.
The Sun Devils had trailed 6-4 entering the seventh inning, but an RBI double by David Greer and Woodmansee’s second home run of the game gave them a late lead.
Aboites surrendered the tying run in the ninth after an error with two outs by Andrew Snow, but shut the Cardinal offense down after the Serven home run.
ASU is now just 1.5 games out of first place in the Pac-12 with a record at the .500 mark. Next, ASU hosts Arizona on Tuesday night when the program honors the 40th anniversary of Rick Monday’s “Greatest play on a baseball field.”