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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils ride big first inning to clinch first Pac-12 series win in high-scoring affair

(Photo: Blaine McCormick/WCSN)

The Arizona State Sun Devils did something they haven’t done all season: they batted around their entire batting lineup in the first inning.

ASU also scored a season-best six runs in the first inning.

The Sun Devils put up 10 runs against the Washington State Cougars on Friday night and they needed each of those runs as they escaped game two of the weekend series with a 10-7 win.

The game opened well, as the Sun Devils had a nearly perfect start in game two of the Pac-12 weekend series.

In the first inning, ASU knocked in six hits and six runs off WSU starting pitcher Ryan Walker.

After scoring two runs, Walker got two outs in the first inning, but Carter Aldrete delivered the big hit for the Sun Devils. Aldrete crushed a three-run opposite field home run that made the score 5-0.

After the game, ASU head coach Tracy Smith said with Aldrete’s recent struggles at the plate he had told his shortstop to simply his swing and make it more compact.

“I can’t wait to see the video of that first at-bat because from my vantage point, it looked like a short, compact swing,” Smith said.

The offense did what Smith has said his team needs to do in order to be successful.

“It helps just from an offensive standpoint that guys can settle in and not press from trying to scratch from behind,” he said. “I think even from a pitching standpoint, every pitch isn’t as critical, you can get a little free-flow out there and fill up the strike zone. I think just psychologically where we’ve been the last couple of weeks for us to not always be chasing is a big thing for us right now.”

Eder Erives, the starting pitcher for the Sun Devils went 3 and 2/3 innings holding WSU scoreless while just surrendering three hits while striking out two Cougars.

All that Smith was hoping of Erives tonight was for his senior pitcher to “get it out.”

“He wasn’t real efficient, but I was very proud of him for just going out and giving what he had,” Smith said. “He did his job, he threw zeros up on the board, you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Erives clearly wasn’t at the top of his game, after being on short-rest as he pitched against UNLV on Tuesday evening but the senior right-hander battled and gave the team some scoreless frames.

The ASU bullpen struggled to say the least on Friday night. James Ryan and Grant Schneider gave up seven combined runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings, with Schneider not even recording an out.

With the Sun Devils leading 10-1 going into the top of the seventh inning, the Cougars struck back. Five hits and three walks allowed WSU to score six runs in the seventh inning, pulling WSU within three.

With the bullpen struggling and ASU’s lead narrowing, the Sun Devils didn’t capitalize on a chance to widen the lead with bases-loaded nobody out spot in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Jeremy McCuin grounded into a double play and then Gage Canning flew out to left field to end the threat.

However, Ryan Hingst came back out after a 1-2-3 eighth inning and shut down the Cougars, giving the team its first Pac-12 series win of the season.

After recording the win, Hingst gave credit to his battery mate, Zach Cerbo who caught nine innings for the second consecutive night.

“He’s got that veteran leadership, we look up to him. He knows what it takes to win at this level and we trust that. I think having him behind the plate really gives us a boost,” Hingst said after recording his first win of 2017.

ASU’s offense came out scorching hot today, putting up six runs in the first inning. The Sun Devils built themselves a big lead and then added to it in the third, fourth and fifth innings putting ten total runs on the board.

The Sun Devils, won a close won on Friday evening, clinching their first Pac-12 series win of the year and they will look to use that confidence to sweep the Cougars on Saturday afternoon.

“You got a lot of guys who have a pride in what they’re doing so I don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm,” Smith said. “I guess it would be easy for me to come in and be very critical because there were plenty lot of mistakes. It’s important for us right now to feel good about ourselves and have fun coming to the ‘yard, because that’s honestly more important for this group. I hope we are heading confident heading into tomorrow’s game.”

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Rob Werner
Rob Werner is an ASU Baseball beat writer for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network.

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