Devils Blow Lead Again, Swept by Arkansas

For the second straight evening, the Arizona State Sun Devils had a lead against the Arkansas Razorbacks and for the second straight evening, ASU couldn't hold on thanks to bad defense and relief pitching. On Wednesday the Devils blew a 6-1 lead and fell 8-7 in front of a record crowd of 11,434 at Baum Stadium.

In a rare battle of #1 teams, the Devils mid-week pitching couldn't quite match the Razorbacks. ASU certainly had their chances even after losing their lead, but couldn't get a big hit late.

Jason Kipnis got ASU on the board first for the second straight night, with a homer to center off of Arkansas' starter Bryan Bingham.

ASU stretched that lead out to 5-0 in the second. Johnny Ruettiger doubled down the left field line to get things started with one away and scored on a single up the middle by Abe Ruiz. Raoul Torrez made it 3-0 with a double that scored Ruettiger, but Ruiz was thrown out at the plate by shortstop Tim Carver.

Drew Smyly replaced Bingham on the mound and walked Zack MacPhee and Kole Calhoun to load the bases with two away. Kipnis made the free rides hurt with a single to right that scored two to make it 5-0.

The Razorbacks (24-6) got a run back in the bottom of the second against ASU starter Matt Newman. Andy Wilkins singled with one out and Brett Eibner followed with a single to left. Andrew Darr made it 5-1 with an RBI single back up the middle, but Newman avoided further trouble by getting out of the inning with a double play.

ASU (23-7) got that run back in the 3rd, starting with a one out walk to Johnny Ruettiger. An error by Smyly on an errant pickoff throw got Ruettiger to second; he advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI groundout by McDonald.

Next came the innings that would doom the Devils and it started with an error that got Arkansas going in the 4th. With one out in the inning, Andy Wilkins reached on an error by Abe Ruiz and Brett Eibner followed with a ground rule double to give Arkansas runners at second and third.

Darr picked up his second and third RBI's of the night by singling to left to cut ASU's lead to 6-3. James McCann the sacrificed Darr to second and Pat Murphy then pulled Newman for Jason Franzblau.

Tim Carver reached on an infield single and Leavitt followed up with an RBI single to make it 6-4. Bo Bigham then reached on an infield single, but an error by MacPhee allowed another run to score and ASU's lead was suddenly just 6-5.

The Devils got one of those runs back in the top of the fifth when new pitcher Kendall Wehrle walked Carlos Ramirez to lead off the inning. ASU's catcher advanced to second on a passed ball and eventually scored on a one out single by Ruettiger to make it 7-5.

The Razorbacks took the lead for good in the 5th against Franzblau. Cox led off with a walk and after Wilkins popped out, Franzblau also walked Eibner. Darr collected his fourth RBI of the game with his third hit to cut the lead to 7-6.

Jordan Swagerty then took over on the mound and got McCann to ground out to short and was one out away from holding the lead when Tim Carver singled in a pair to give the Hogs the lead for good at 8-7.

The Devils had chances in the 8th and 9th to get the tying run across, but couldn't get a clutch hit down the stretch. In the 8th, ASU had a runner at first and second with one out, but a fielder's choice and a strikeout ended the threat.

In the 9th, Kole Calhoun walked to lead off the inning and was sacrificed to second by Kipnis. But Carlos Ramirez and Riccio Torrez both struck out against Razorback closer Stephen Richards who picked up his 6th save of the season.

Matt Newman worked 3 2/3 innings for the Devils and allowed four runs, two of which were earned. Jason Franzblau picked up the loss by allowing four runs, three earned in just 2/3 of an inning. Jordan Swagerty worked 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to keep ASU in the game. Josh Spence got the final out of the 8th.

Jason Kipnis went 2-4 and drove in three, including his 10th home run of the year. Freshman Johnny Ruettiger went 3-3 and Abe Ruiz went 2-3.

ASU returns home for a three game Pac-10 series with the Washington State Cougars (14-13, 4-2 Pac 10) on Friday. Mike Leake will get things started at Packard Stadium at 6:30 on Friday evening.

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