Blair Bounces Back, ASU Earns Spilt with CSF

Seth Blair will be the first to admit that his last few starts have been bad, but it is days like Wednesday that shows you the potential that the sophomore has. Blair rebounded and didn't allow an earned run in seven strong innings to give Arizona State a split in the two-game series against Cal St. Fullerton, 3-1 in front of 3,489 at Packard Stadium.

Blair got the run support he needed when freshman Zack MacPhee blasted his first collegiate home run to left field. The laser broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning.

"This stadium is not used to this 3-1 stuff," laughed ASU head coach Pat Murphy, "Blair threw a good game, seven innings and only 82 pitches while not giving up an extra base hit on a night like this in this offensive ballpark. That was a huge win"

Murphy allowed Carlos Ramirez and Blair to call their own game on Wednesday. Blair was in two hours ahead of time watching film to try and shake his slump.

"I kind of lost my confidence and I owed it to my teammates," said Blair, "We needed this win tonight and I wanted to get back out for my team.

"This was the first night coaches let me call my pitches and Carlos did a great job. I was able to work at a quick pace and that is key for me to get in a rhythm. I was bad the last few starts and you can't get in a rhythm when you are bad."

Fullerton struck first, collecting an unearned run off of Blair in the 4th. Christian Colon led off with a single and advanced to second on an error by first basemen Riccio Torrez. That error would prove costly as Josh Fellhauer advanced Colon to third on a sacrifice bunt, before Jared Clark blooped one into right to score the first run of the game.

Arizona State (20-5) had their chances early to score off of Fullerton starter Kevin Rath. The Devils loaded the bases in the first inning with walks to Matt Newman and Carlos Ramirez and an infield single by Andy Workman, but Riccio Torrez struck out to end the inning.

A pair of double plays erased scoring threats in the second and the third. ASU had a pair of runners in scoring position with nobody out in the 4th after Carlos Ramirez singled back up the middle to leadoff and Workman chopped a ball over the third baseman's head that got to the corner for a double.

Riccio Torrez then hit a sharp ground ball to Titans' second baseman Joe Scott who had Ramirez caught between third and home and ASU ran themselves out of a potential run. Zach Wilson followed with a ground ball that was fielded by third baseman Gary Brown and first baseman Jared Clark made a sensational pick to save a run. Zack MacPhee struck out looking to end the threat.

The Devils finally got a run on the board in the fifth. Drew Maggi started things with a single and was sacrificed to second by Raoul Torrez. Matt Newman lifted the monkey off of ASU's back by lofting a double over the head of left fielder Jeff Newman to score Maggi and tie the game at 1-1.

"We were kind of snake bit (in this series)," said Murphy, "We were hitting line drives right at people. Newman put a good swing on the ball. It was a turning point. The game has a funny way of evening itself out."

That set up MacPhee for the heroics in the 6th. Andy Workman walked to lead off the inning and was bunted to second by Riccio Torrez. Zach Wilson popped out to second and it looked as if ASU was going to strand another in scoring position. But MacPhee sent a 1-0 pitch from Rath over the left field fence to give ASU its final margin of victory at 3-1. The ball was a rocket that might have knocked over the fence if it didn't go over.

Blair worked seven innings and allowed just that one unearned run to pick up his third victory of the season in a very important game for the Sun Devils. Josh Spence pitched the final two innings to pick up his first save of the season.

Cal State Fullerton (19-5) did have the tying runs on base in the 9th off of Spence. After striking out Colon to start the inning, Fellhauer singled to bring up slugging Jared Clark. Clark fouled a pitch towards the Fullerton dugout and Riccio Torrez fully left his feet in a head first dive into the dugout, but couldn't come away with the catch despite the tremendous effort.

"That was a statement," said Murphy of Torrez' effort, "That is how we are going to compete, that set the tone for the rest of the inning."

Clark eventually walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate with one out, but Spence got Nick Ramirez to fly out and the game ended on a nice play by Maggi up the middle and flipped to MacPhee for the force at second.

Raoul Torrez went 2-3 for ASU and had a sacrifice bunt. Andy Workman finished 2-2 and walked and scored a run on MacPhee's homer.

ASU will hit the road tomorrow and travel to Seattle to take on Washington for a three game set. The first game is Friday at Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, at 6:30 PM. The final two games of the series will be at Husky Ballpark. Mike Leake will take the ball for the opener on Friday night, with Josh Spence going on Saturday. It is not known whether Seth Blair will pitch on short rest on Sunday.

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