Weber's Late Heroics Halt Devils

Michael Weber entered his at bat in the eighth inning of Sunday's 4-4 game 0-3 on the afternoon and hitting just .214 on the season, but that didn't stop him from being the hero for Washington State on Easter. The junior hit a tie breaking homer in the eighth and helped the Cougars pull away in the ninth with a bases clearing double to help his team avoid being swept, 10-4.

The Sun Devils certainly had their chances to take control of the game and it started right away in the first inning. Raoul Torrez led off the game with a single and then stole second base. One out later, Jason Kipnis drew a walk and a double steal put runners at second and third with one out. Carlos Ramirez drew a walk to load the bases, but the threat was ended when Andy Workman grounded into a double play.

Following that threat both starting pitchers settled in. Washington State's David Stilley shut down ASU (25-8, 10-2 Pac 10) until the 5th in his first career start.

The Cougars (15-15, 5-4 Pac 10) broke the 0-0 tie in the 5th and chase Sun Devil starter Seth Blair. Garry Kuykendall led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second by Cody Bartlett. Kuykendall was then picked off second by Blair, but Kuykendall took off for third and the throw by Zack MacPhee got away from Raoul Torrez to let the runner score and WSU led 1-0.

Shea Vucinich followed with a double to left center, but was erased heading to third on a fielders' choice by Alex Burg. Derek Jones then crushed his 9th home run onto Rural Rd. to increase the Cougars lead to 3-0. A single right after by Greg Lagreid chased Blair for Mitchell Lambson.

A wild pitch by Lambson sent Lagried to second and he came around to score on a two out RBI single by Jared Prince and it was 4-0.

The Devils finally got to Stilley in the fifth. Zach Wilson led off the inning with a single and Riccio Torrez hit one on the ground that knocked over Cougar shortstop Shea Vucinich and everybody was safe. After MacPhee sacrificed the runners up, Drew Maggi drove them in with a chopper that snuck over the head of third baseman Matt Argyropoulos to cut the lead to 4-2.

ASU tied the game in the 6th off of Cougar reliever Jeremy Johnson. Carlos Ramirez got things started with a one out single to right and pinch hitter Kole Calhoun sent him to third with his own single to right. Pat Murphy again turned to his bench and it paid off, as pinch hitter Abe Ruiz ripped a double down the right field line that plated a pair and tie the score at 4-4.

The Devils had a golden chance to take the lead in the 7th, but ASU's top hitters couldn't get a runner home from third. Drew Maggi led off the frame with a single and Raoul Torrez pulled a bunt back and slapped one that almost got over the head of the shortstop but it was caught for the first out. Matt Newman followed with a single that sent Maggi to third, but Jason Kipnis and Ramirez both popped out to squander the scoring chance.

That is when Michael Weber took over the game. With one away in the 8th, Weber took Lambson deep for his 3rd homer of the season to give the Cougars a 5-4 lead that they would not relinquish.

After the Devils left the tying run at second in the bottom of the 8th, an error opened the flood gates for the Cougars to seal the victory.

Seldom used freshman Austin Barnes, who was making his first appearance at second base after being entered in the 9th, threw wide on a routine ground ball that allowed Bartlett to reach. Vucinich then sacrificed the runner to second and Murphy pulled Lambson for Jordan Swagerty.

Swagerty got Burg to bounce out for the second out of the inning, but that final out was the toughest to get. Murphy chose to intentionally walk Jones, but Lagried singled to score Bartlett and made it 6-4. Swagerty then walked Prince and Weber struck again, clearing the bases with a double and Argyropoulos also singled and it was 10-4.

Blair picked up the no decision, allowing four runs, just one earned run in 4 1/3 innings. Lambson allowed two runs; one earned in 3 2/3 innings and picked up his second loss of the season. Jordan Swagerty worked 2/3 innings and was tagged for four earned runs.

Drew Maggi was the only Sun Devil with multiple hits, going 2-3 and driving in a pair of runs. Abe Ruiz also drove in two runs.

ASU will next play an exhibition game on Wednesday against Technology Institute of Hermosillo at Packard Stadium. The international friendly will get under way at 6:30 PM. The Devils next real games will come next weekend when they host Stanford starting on Friday.

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