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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sun Devils rock UA pitching

    No. 4 ASU 13, No. 25 Arizona 6

    The No. 25 Arizona baseball team came into its game against No. 4 ASU at Sancet Stadium Thursday night with the best pitching staff in the Pacific 10 Conference. Sixty feet, six inches away, the Sun Devils were the best hitters in the league.

    Something had to give.

    In the end, the Devils’ bats got the best of the Wildcats’ arms, shelling the hosts for 21 hits in a 13-6 win in the opener of a three-game series which ends the regular season. With the win, the Sun Devils (45-9, 16-6 Pac-10) clinched the conference title. Arizona (36-17, 10-12) needs to win Friday and Saturday to go .500 in conference play.

    “”They’re a good hitting team,”” said UA head coach Andy Lopez. “”Their numbers are realistic. They’ve been doing it for two years in a row now. … They can really swing. But it’s not like we weren’t aware of that.””

    The Sun Devils came into the contest with a conference-high .339 team batting average. Arizona boasted a conference-best .381 ERA, though UA pitchers didn’t get the best backup at times.

    Defensive miscues plagued the Wildcats in the third inning, as shortstop Bryce Ortega booted back-to-back grounders near second base that would have been potential double-play balls. The second error loaded the bases for ASU and allowed the Devils to tack on another run.

    And then there was a combination of cold and windy conditions and sore triceps on the throwing arm of right-hander Preston Guilmet, which didn’t bode well for the team’s ace.

    After Guilmet (6-4) sat down the first two batters of the game, third baseman Brett Wallace hit a line-drive double to right-center field. Guilmet walked the next batter, catcher Petey Paramore, putting two on base for first baseman Ike Davis, who pulled the ball down the left-field line to score two.

    ASU continued its early tear in the second inning, as a bunt and a sacrifice bunt put a runner on second and third. An errant pitch from Guilmet scored left fielder Ryan Sontag. The next batter, center fielder Jason Kipnis, hit a two-run home run to dead center field to put ASU up 5-0, igniting an “”A-S-U”” chant in the crowd of 1,820.

    “”I don’t know if it was the wind or the cold air but his velocity was real down,”” Lopez said of Guilmet, who left the field before he could be interviewed. “”But we’ll get him checked. He says he’s fine. He say’s he’s in great shape.

    “”But that’s two weeks in a row now that his velocity’s been down,”” Lopez added. “”We’ll get him checked and let our medical people take a look at him. But he’s competitive. He didn’t want to come out (of the game).””

    But after 3 1/3 innings, Guilmet was taken out. He gave up seven runs on 10 hits after 95 pitches. Righty Mike Colla took over with runners on first and second and sat down the first two batters he faced in the top of the fourth inning.

    The Wildcats didn’t give up hope after being down 7-0. After all, they came back to beat No. 16 Stanford 15-11 last Monday after being down 8-0 after just two innings.

    In the bottom of the fourth, Arizona began it’s comeback that never came to total fruition. Right fielder Jon Gaston, batting in the cleanup spot, led the inning off with a walk and advanced to second on a misplay by Paramore. First baseman C.J. Ziegler stepped in and ripped an RBI double to left field on a 2-2 offering from ASU starting pitcher Josh Satow (8-3). The very next pitch, center fielder T.J. Steele whacked the ball over the left-center wall to cut ASU’s lead to 7-3.

    “”We were just thinking we needed one run at a time, one base runner at a time,”” Ziegler said. “”But we didn’t do that like we did against Stanford.””

    The Devils lengthened their lead to 11-3 after 21 outs thanks to two solo home runs and more timely hitting.

    In the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats had another short offensive surge. Third baseman Brad Glenn hit a double down the right field line that could have easily been a triple – he was a third of the way to third base before ASU right fielder Mike Leake hit his cut-off man – but he decided to play it safe and return to second. It didn’t matter in the long run, however, when Gaston knocked Glenn in with a single to right field.

    Then with two outs and the count full, Ziegler hit a two-run bomb to left-center, moving into fifth place for most UA long balls in a single season, with 19.

    “”Like coach Lopez said, when that hitter gets in that box, one of those has to give to each other, either the pitching or the hitting,”” Ziegler said. “”You need to be able to make that adjustment up there and get some runs. Of course we needed some more runs to win.””

    But Arizona didn’t get anymore runs after that and ASU only got more.

    Up 12-6 in the top of the eighth, ASU shortstop Greg Bordes stepped in the box as the No. 9 hitter. After advancing to third base on a double-steal, second baseman Raoul Torrez stole home, giving ASU its 13th and final run.

    “”That’s their style of play,”” Ziegler said. “”That’s the way (ASU head coach Pat) Murphy does things. You can’t really say anything when you’re down that much.””

    Added Lopez: “”Oh, that’s college baseball. There’s nothing safe in college baseball. That doesn’t bother me. … Our job is not to let them get up by six runs.””

    Hitting against the conference’s best pitching staff, the Devils went through four UA pitchers, getting at least one run in every inning except the ninth. In just his eighth appearance all season, right-hander Grayson Adams took over on the bump in the ninth and didn’t allow a run.

    A local reporter joked to Lopez that Adams should start Friday’s game because he has the best momentum.

    “”Momentum is everything in baseball,”” Lopez said with a laugh. “”Hopefull we’ll have the momentum.””

    The Wildcats are going to need it.

    If they want to have any opportunity to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats will almost certainty have to win against the Sun Devils on Friday and Saturday.

    “”Every game from here on out is important,”” Ziegler said. “”But if we want to put ourselves in a position to host at all, I think we’re going to need the next two.””

    Extra Bases

    UA second baseman Colt Sedbrook extended his hitting streak to 13 games. …

    Ortega batted in the leadoff spot for the first time this season. …

    The loss is just Arizona’s fifth of the season at home.

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