ASU Baseball Week in Review

After a perfect opening weekend, the Sun Devils returned to the diamond and capped off a strong series that enabled ASU to climb in the national rankings. Following an impressive three-game sweep of Western Michigan to start the 2012 campaign, the Sun Devil baseball team returned to action to face UC-Riverside in a three-game weekend set.

To begin action Friday, junior ace Brady Rodgers stole the show from the hill, spearheading ASU's 11-3 victory. Rodgers earned his second win in as many starts after striking out nine in seven innings with five hits and zero runs allowed. Thus far for the season, the native Texan is off to a sensational start with 17 strikeouts in 13.0 innings pitched with nine hits and no runs allowed.

Abe Ruiz, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, continued his outstanding start, batted 3-of-4 with four RBI, three coming off a seventh inning homerun, his third of the year.

Trever Allen, Andrew Aplin, Michael Benjamin, Joey DeMichele and Deven Marrero each contributed a multi-hit game as the Devils racked up 14 total hits on the night.

Freshman Brandon Bonilla entered the game in the eighth and faced some adversity after three walks and two runs allowed, but was able to minimize the damage and show some admirable poise for a rookie to push through a rough outing. Josh Dahl made his Sun Devil debut to close out the ninth and had a rocky start, hitting two batters and allowing a run before closing the door on the evening.

Saturday, ASU suffered its first loss of the season as the hitting firepower was non-existent in the Sun Devils' 3-1 loss, the first and only game thus far in 2012 that the Devils have not scored in double figures.

With freshman Adam McCreery out due to injury, fellow newcomer Darin Gillies, who had a solid outing in his debut opening weekend, started and registered the loss in 2.1 innings pitched after allowing two runs with three walks and a hit batter in addition to three strikeouts. Alex Blackford and Matthew Dunbar would go on to only allow one run over the final 6.2 innings with four combined strikeouts and five hits allowed, but the Sun Devil offense was unable to overcome UC-Riverside's pitching, started by Eddie Orozco, who struck out three with one earned run allowed over six innings.

The Sun Devils managed eight hits on the day, with Deven Marrero hitting 2-for-4 and Joey DeMichele batting 1-for-3 with a solo home run to supply ASU's only run of the day.

ASU set out Sunday to prove Saturday's effort was an aberration and did so in impressive fashion with an 11-2 victory, giving third-year head coach Tim Esmay his 100th victory at ASU.

After mustering only one run the previous game, the Sun Devils took a 5-1 advantage after a three-run third, and home runs by Rouric Bridgewater and Joey DeMichele later in the game enabled ASU to establish an insurmountable lead.

DeMichele totaled a monster day at the plate, hitting 3-of-4 with four RBI, while Bridgewater and Ruiz both added a pair of RBI. Kasey Coffman chipped in a perfect 3-for-3 hitting day while Nathaniel Causey tallied two hits on three at bats.

Sophomore Trevor Williams gained his second win of the year after allowing two runs over six innings with one strikeout, while Adrian Gomez, Robert Ravago and Jake Barrett each pitched an inning to wrap up the series, with only one hit allowed between them.

On the year, Abe Ruiz is first in the Pac-12 in slugging percentage (1.045) and total bases (23) and tied for first in batting average (.500) and home runs (three) while ranking second in RBI (12).

Joey DeMichele stands first in the league in runs scored (13), second in slugging percentage (1.000), fourth in batting (.474) and tied for fourth in home runs (two).

Now standing at a 5-1 record, ASU is ranked 11th in the nation by Baseball America, up two slots from last week's No. 13 ranking.

Next up, ASU will play in the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz., Thursday through Sunday against (in order) Saint Louis, Northern Illinois, Winthrop and Saint Mary's. All games are scheduled to be played at 4:00 p.m.

Thursday and Friday's games will be broadcast online at www.thesundevils.com with Tim Healey and former Sun Devil infielder Seth Dhaenens making the calls. There will be no audio or video coverage for Saturday and Sunday's games.


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