Baseball Weekend Recap

Though the 2012 season will undoubtedly be clouded by ASU's inability to participate in postseason action, there were no tangible effects of the NCAA sanctions in the opening weekend of play as the Sun Devils dominated visiting Western Michigan with a three-game sweep that totaled a 40-2 cumulative score.

With a multitude of departures from the 2011 roster—some early departures likely motivated by the impending NCAA sanctions ASU figured to face in 2012—there is a handful of new contributors that will be called on as the season progresses, many of which made a quick impact during opening weekend.

Friday, junior ace Brady Rodgers kept great pace on the mound for the Devils, allowing few opportunities to the Broncos as he pitched six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and only four hits as ASU cruised to a 10-0 victory.

Senior Abe Ruiz, who started his Sun Devil career in 2009 before transferring to Santa Barbara City College in 2010 and then back to ASU for sparse duty last season, caught early fire to get the Devils on the board as he bombed his first of two home runs over the fence in right-center. Ruiz later added two more RBI to collect six on the game.

In his Sun Devil debut after transferring from Central Arizona College, Gilbert native Max Rossiter added a pair of hits and two RBI, while redshirt freshman Trever Allen, a Tempe native and product of Corona del Sol High School, chipped in three hits in his collegiate debut.

After Rodgers exited the game, junior Alex Blackford, freshman Brandon Bonilla and sophomore Trevor Williams each added an inning, combining for six strikeouts with only one hit allowed to close out the victory.

ASU returned to Winkles-Packard-Brock Saturday afternoon for game two, a contest that featured several highlight efforts from Sun Devil underclassmen as the Devils made short work of Western Michigan, 13-0.

The scoring exploded in the third inning with five runs and five hits, with sophomore Michael Benjamin and junior Andrew Aplin connecting on back-to-back home runs. On the day, batted 2-for-4 with four RBI while Aplin was a perfect 2-for-2 with two runs driven in.

Redshirt sophomore Beau Maggi, who saw action in only three games last year after redshirting in 2010, had a huge day at the plate in his first career collegiate start, batting 3-for-5 with two RBI. Abe Ruiz followed his monster Friday with a solid Saturday, hitting 2-for-3 on the afternoon.

On the mound, 6-foot-8 freshman Adam McCreery started his ASU career in impressive fashion; fanning five over four innings of work with only two hits and one walk, notching the quick victory.

Freshman Darin Gillies impressed in middle relief with five strikeouts across three scoreless innings pitched, while junior college transfers and first-year Devils Matthew Dunbar and Robert Ravago each pitched an inning to wrap up the contest.

Though Sunday's game saw ASU's streak of scoreless defensive innings snap at 19.1, the Devils unleashed their bats in a major way to run off Western Michigan, 17-2.

The Sun Devils came out more sluggishly than the first two efforts of the season, holding a 1-1 tie into the fourth inning. However, from that point ASU hit the accelerator as the Devils plated five runners in the fourth, another five in the sixth and six more over the next three innings to create an insurmountable gap.

ASU's offensive contributions were scattered among virtually the whole lineup, with Rossiter batting a perfect 4-for-4, with sophomore James McDonald and freshman Gilbert High School product Nathaniel Causey each contributing four RBI. At 6-foot-2, 236-pounds, Causey's presence in the box greatly exceeds his freshman status and showed some substantial power in his first weekend of action at ASU.

Aplin, star junior Deven Marrero, a plausible top-10 MLB Draft selection this year, and freshman Drew Stankiewicz each added a pair of hits and combined for four RBI.

On the hill, Trevor Williams grabbed the win with four innings pitched that included two strikeouts, two hits and one unearned run. Blackford followed with three strong innings that featured three strikeouts and two hits before senior Joseph Lopez tallied two strikeouts but allowed the team's first earned run in the eighth inning. Junior fire baller, projected by many to be a first-round pick in this year's MLB Draft, made his first appearance of 2012 in the ninth inning Sunday, striking out one and allowing one hit but generally making the ninth quick and painless for the home team.

For the weekend, 12 players made their Sun Devil debuts, including nine freshmen and three junior college transfers.

Largely due to a smashing opening night effort, Abe Ruiz was named Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week as he currently leads the league with a 1.400 slugging percentage and is tied atop the conference with 14 total bases, seven runs scored and two home runs.

As a team, ASU leads the Pac-12 in batting (.413) and runs (40), while tying for the league lead in home runs (four) and is the only squad with a perfect stolen base percentage (6-for-6). The Sun Devil also lead the Pac-12 with a 0.33 ERA and .168 opponent batting average, while placing second in the league with 33 strikeouts.

The Sun Devils return to action this weekend against UC-Riverside Friday (6:30 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (12:30 p.m.). Friday's action will be webcast live on Fox Sports Arizona. Tim Healey and former Sun Devil infielder Seth Dhaenens will provide radio coverage for Friday and Sunday's games on thesundevils.com. There will be no audio or video coverage Saturday.


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