Sweeps WSU After Being Swept By OSU…
By CB360 Contributor Kevin Kennedy
Tenth ranked Arizona State bounced back from last weekend’s sweep at Oregon State with a three game sweep of Washington State this past weekend in Tempe. ASU defeated the Cougars 3-1, 8-2, and 10-4 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday respectively.
Last weekend in Corvallis the Sun Devils were swept by a Pac-10 team for the first time since 1999 when they lost all three games to the Beavers. It was also the first time ASU had been swept by any opponent since 2005.
ASU improved to 25-9 and 8-4 in the Pac-10, while Washington St. continued to struggle in conference action falling to 2-10 in the Pac-10 with a 14-17 overall record.
ASU won in a pitchers duel between sophomore Brady Rodgers, and WSU junior Adam Conley on Friday night. Rodgers pitched 6.1 innings allowing an earned run on five hits. Three ASU relievers pitched the final 2.1 innings allowing just one hit while striking out four. Junior Mitchell Lambson, who took the loss in last Saturday’s game against the Beavers, earned the save on Friday by striking out the side in order.
Rodgers continues to solidify his spot as the Sun Devils ace. He improved to 5-2 with a 2.92 ERA. Through seven appearances Rodgers has a 30 to 1 strike out to walk ratio.
On Friday the Sun Devils had trouble figuring out the Cougar’s ace. Conley pitched a complete game limiting the Sun Devils to seven hits while allowing only one earned run while striking out seven. Conley dropped to 4-4 with the tough loss.
ASU scored all three of its runs in the 5th off Conley. The two deciding runs came when WSU junior 2nd basemen Tommy Richards committed an error by allowing a two out ground ball to go though his legs.
The Sun Devils were without sophomore starting SS Deven Marrero for the first two games because of a back injury. The injury forced junior Riccio Torrez to move from 3B to SS, and sophomore Joey DeMichele moved into the starting line-up going to 3B.
DeMichele made two nice plays at third in Friday’s win, and followed up the defensive effort with a 3-4, 3 RBI night on Saturday. Marrero returned to SS on Sunday and went 1-4.
The Devils had more offensive success in the last two games of the series. They chased WSU’s Saturday starter, senior Chad Arnold, after he allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings. ASU led 7-1 after just four innings. Besides DeMichele junior 1B Zach Wilson led ASU by going 3-3.
Junior Kramer Champlin went 6.1 innings for the win improving to 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA in nine starts. Champlin allowed two earned on eight hits while striking out five.
ASU struck early again in Sunday’s 10-4 win. ASU jumped out to a 4-0 lead after five innings, and put the game away with a five run sixth inning, which gave the Devils a 9-2 lead. DeMichele has his second consecutive three hit game going 3-5 as the starting DH. Senior RF Matt Newman, sophomore CF Andrew Aplin, and Torrez were a combined 6-for-13 with five RBIs in Sunday’s victory.
For the second consecutive game WSU’s starter failed to get through five innings going 4.2 innings and falling to 3-4 with the loss. Sophomore Jake Barrett got the victory for the Devils improving to 4-3 by going 5.2 innings.
This weekend ASU continued to be aggressive on the base paths. The Sun Devils stole seven bases in the series. For the season has 58 stolen bases on 86 attempts – a 67% success rate.
Washington State continues to be one of the bigger disappointments in the conference through the first four weeks of conference play. There were high expectations in Pullman coming into this season after the team came within a game of the Super Regional’s in 2010. The Cougars are currently last in the Pac-10 – 7.5 games behind first place Oregon State. WSU has now dropped seven of its last eight Pac-10 games.
The Cougars need to play well the last month plus of the season to reach the tournament again. The Cougars have played one of the tougher conference schedules, with games at #16 Cal, vs. #17 Stanford, and vs. #23 UCLA. The schedule does not get any easier next weekend when they visit #9 Oregon State. WSU will have played the top four teams in the conference standings after the OSU series.
Following OSU, the Cougars do play three of their last four conference series at home.
The Sun Devils are going for a fourth straight conference title, and currently sit 1.5 games behind conference leader Oregon State, three games back in the loss column. The Beavers hold the tiebreaker over ASU with last weekend’s sweep.
Next weekend the Devils travel to northern California to play at Cal beginning on Thursday. The Bears are 9-3 in the Pac-10, just one-half game behind OSU.
The Sun Devils currently could be eligible for the NCAA Tournament, because they are appealing the NCAA’s postseason ban. The ban would not go into effect until the appeals process is over.
ASU has a decent shot to make the tournament because they are not set to have their case heard until May 14, about two weeks before the tournament field is selected. It is unlikely that the appeals committee will make a ruling by the time the 2011 tournament beings.