Two-Out Hitting Leads Fullerton Past Devils

For a second straight game the Arizona State Sun Devils' starting pitcher couldn't go more than two innings and for the second straight game the Devils fell. Cal St. Fullerton used clutch two out hitting to come away with a 7-5 victory in a marathon that lasted nearly four hours to open the DeMarini West Coast Challenge at Packard Stadium.

After Seth Blair couldn't go more than two innings on Sunday, Matt Newman was knocked out of the game in the second inning on Tuesday.

"Two non-quality starts in a row," said ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy, "We have to do better. Newman gave us a horrible start that is unusual for him.

"We had some line drives that they caught. We had some hard hit balls, but they had timely hits. We had untimely line drives caught. They took advantage of little things and their second line pitching was a little better than ours."

The second-ranked Titans got to Newman right away in the first inning, scoring a run with two outs, something they did often. Josh Fellhauer singled to right with two outs and came all the way around to score on a double off the left centerfield fence by Jared Clark.

Fullerton (19-4) got two more off of Newman in the second. Deer Valley High School grad Khris Davis started the inning with a single and then stole second base. Dustin Garneau sacrificed Davis to third and Joe Scott drove him with a base hit. After a groundout by Jeff Newman, Gary Brown chased Matt Newman with a double into the left field corner to make it 3-0 Fullerton.

ASU (19-5) tied the game in the home half of the second thanks to some shaky Titan defense. Drew Maggi started the inning with a line drive single to left and it appeared Fullerton starter Kyle Witten would erase the leadoff single with a routine double play ball hit by Matt Newman, but second baseman Joe Scott booted the ball allowing everyone to be safe.

Raoul Torrez then dropped down a perfect bunt that he beat for a hit, but the throw from third baseman Gary Brown was wild, allowing Maggi to score and Neman to advance to third. Zack MacPhee made it 3-2 with a line drive sacrifice fly to center to score Newman.

Jason Kipnis tied the game with a single to right that scored Torrez and Kole Calhoun followed with a base hit that sent Kipnis to third with just one out. ASU couldn't get that run home as Witten struck out Carlos Ramirez and Jordan Swagerty to end the frame. That would be the last time the Devils scored the rest of the way.

Jason Franzblau (1-1) came in to relieve Newman and might have had his best outing as a Sun Devil. The senior ran into trouble in the 5th when Jeff Newman led off with a single and Gary Brown followed with a double to give Fullerton second and third with nobody out. But Franzblau worked out of it with no runs allowed. Christian Colon hit a comebacker to Franzblau for the first out, Fellhauer struck out and Nick Ramirez grounded out to second to end the inning.

Franzblau couldn't escape similar danger in the 6th, thanks to an error and a clutch bloop single. Franzblau walked Garneau with one out and he then stole second and moved up to third when Carlos Ramirez' throw went into center field.

The Devils looked like they may escape danger again when Scott grounded out to Raoul Torrez, keeping the runner at third, but Jeff Newman floated one just over the head of Maggi for a two-out blooper that scored the winning run.

Jared Clark added an insurance run by connecting on a two-out solo homer to right center field in the 7th off of Kole Calhoun, to make it 5-3.

Fullerton added another two out run in the 8th and again in the 9th. In the 8th Gary Brown's two out RBI single off of Jordan Swagerty plated Garneau who reached after getting hit by a pitch.

In the 9th, it was Scott again connecting for the clutch hit off of Mitchell Lambson, scoring Davis who reached on a fielders' choice.

The Devils offense was shut down by Titan's reliever Nick Ramirez (1-1) who worked four shutout innings and didn't allow a hit. The freshman entered with a 9.00 ERA on the season, allowing seven runs in seven innings. That ERA drastically dropped to 5.76 with his four innings on Tuesday. Ryan Ackland worked one inning for the Titans before giving way to closer Michael Morrison.

ASU tried to make it a ballgame in the 9th. Zack MacPhee walked with one away and Jason Kipnis belted a line drive homer to right to cut the lead to 7-5. But pinch hitter Zach Wilson flew out to left and Carlos Ramirez was called out on strikes to end the game.

"Our offense isn't hitting on all cylinders," said Murphy, "Ramirez is struggling mercifully, he was so hot for us and now he's struggling. That is a big guy in the middle of that lineup."

ASU didn't have a hit after Matt Newman's two out double in the third inning until Kipnis' homer in the 9th. Jason Kipnis went 2-5 with a homer and three driven in for ASU. Zack MacPhee reached three times on walks and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.

Gary Brown went 3-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs for the Titans and Jared Clark added two RBIs and went 2-4, including his 5th home run of the season. Joe Scott and Jeff Newman each had two hits; Scott drove in a pair of runs.

The Devils and Titans will wrap up their short two game mid-week series tomorrow at 6PM at Packard Stadium. Seth Blair (2-1, 3.86 ERA) will get the ball for the Devils. Blair is coming off of two rough starts and pitched just two innings on Sunday against USC. The Titans will counter with sophomore lefty Kevin Rath (1-0, 6.48 ERA).


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