ASU Salvages Coca-Cola Classic With a Win

Looking to break a streak of six consecutive losses in the Coca-Cola Classic, the ASU Sun Devils dug into a bag of tricks and came up with some offensive fireworks and a late pitching change to find what had been eluding them in Surprise, Ariz. – a win. The Devils lived up to their hype as they used an all-around steady effort to knock off the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 9-2.

In an effort to jumpstart an offense that only managed four hits a day earlier against the Oregon State Bulldogs the Devils came out with the mentality to watch pitches, put runners in motion and swing at pitches that would easily be put in play. Right handed starting pitcher, Clayton Mortensen played in to the hands of the ASU strategy as he struggled with control as well as let the ASU base runners into his head. In the fourth inning alone, Mortensen committed two balks, one of them allowing a run to cross the plate. In the same inning, the Devils scored three runs to essentially put the game out of reach of the struggling Bulldog offense, 5-0.

Taking advantage of a restless pitcher proved to be a key to victory on Sunday, as the Devils constantly put pressure on Mortensen stealing five bases, bunting five times and reaching base twice on errors by the Bulldog shortstop, Aaron McGuinness.

On the defensive side, ASU sparkled. The pitching combination of Brian Flores and Mike Leake once again proved to be lethal to the opposition as they combined for 9 innings of work surrendering only two runs on five hits – including a monstrous homerun for Bulldog third baseman, Ryan Wiegard. Flores started the game after a late scratch of Jeff Urlaub who was originally projected to start the game. Flores went three innings while only allowing one hit before giving way to Leake who finished the gem – and finished the losing streak – for the Devils.

Devil first baseman Brett Wallace and second baseman Eric Sogard each drove in two runs on two hits and catcher Kiel Rolling hit his third homerun of the season into the grass above the left field bullpen in the 4-run 8th inning.

The win moves ASU to 7-3 on the season after finishing the Coca-Cola Classic 1-2. After the semi-road trip, the Devils now make their way back to Bobby Winkles Field at Packard Stadium to take on UAB for a three-game set running the 23rd – 25th of February.

In the early game of the day, the Oregon State Beavers won the Coca-Cola Classic title, defeating the Tigers from University of Missouri 9-2, and giving head coach Pat Casey his 400th managing victory in his 13th season as a college head coach.

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