ASU Survives GCU

On Tuesday evening, Division II Grand Canyon University gave No. 2 ASU everything it could handle.

But in the end, the Sun Devils got outstanding pitching and clutch hits when it mattered to rally for a 4-2 win over the Antelopes.

"It was a great test tonight. They gave us all they could," ASU coach Tim Esmay said. "Every pitch mattered, every play mattered and that's the positive of playing good baseball."

Former Sun Devil Jeff Urlab got the start for GCU (14-11), but only worked the first inning. The pitching duel was then on between freshman reliever Cody Repenning and ASU freshman starter Brady Rodgers.

Rodgers was pulled after five innings and threw just 54 pitches. That will allow him to come back and pitch sometime this weekend.

"For his first career start, he handled the start very well," Esmay said. "It sets up for him to be fresh and ready to go this weekend. That was the thought process. There was no way he was going to go a complete game tonight."

The Antelopes finally got some offense going against ASU junior reliever Josh Moody in the sixth inning, however both runs they scored were unearned.

Sophomore Gavin Tucker led off the inning with a single and sophomore Joey Bristyan laid down a sacrifice bunt that ASU third baseman Riccio Torrez fielded and threw away trying to get the out at second, allowing both runners to be safe.

Senior Jay Green then bunted the runners up to second and third. Moody then fanned P.J. Garcia for the second out, but pinch hitter Colin Courtland laced a base hit up the middle to score a pair and make it 2-0.

ASU (12-0) answered right back, plating two runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game. Junior Xorge Carrillo led off with a single, but was forced out on a groundout by junior Jimmy Patterson.

Repenning got Raoul Torrez to fly out, but then walked Drew Maggi and Johnny Ruettiger to load the bases. Repenning then was pulled in favor of junior lefty Justin McKee to face lefty Kole Calhoun.

Calhoun fell behind in the count 1-2, but got a pitch up in the zone and took it the other way to score two and tie it at 2-2.

"That was the biggest AB of the game. Momentum was on their side and Kole is battling, fouling off some pitches," Esmay said. "They made an elevated pitch and he stayed on it and came up with a big knock. That settled our guys in a little bit and relaxed them."

The Sun Devils took the lead for good in the seventh inning off of McKee. Sophomore Zach Wilson lined a double to right center with one out and moved up to third on a groundout by Carrillo.

Patterson then hit a slow roller up the middle that the second baseman Tucker fielded, but Patterson beat it out and allowed Wilson to score. The throw ended up getting away and Patterson moved up to second.

Raoul Torrez followed with a base hit that brought home Patterson to make it 4-2.

In the meantime, ASU was getting suburb relief pitching. Moody settled in and worked a scoreless inning, before Esmay turned the ball to his stoppers, freshman Jake Barrett and sophomore Jordan Swagerty.

Barrett worked a scoreless eighth, striking out the side with all looking strikeouts. Swagerty pitched the ninth for his third save and also struck out the side.

"What can you say about the back end?" Esmay said. "Those guys are performing and doing their jobs."

ASU will next take on Auburn for a three game set that starts on Friday at Packard Stadium. First pitch on Friday is set for 6:30PM. Following the Auburn series the competition continues to increase, ASU will head to Fullerton to take on Cal St. Fullerton and then the following weekend they will welcome Houston.

"This will be a great tune-up for us. These next eight games will be like Pac-10 weekends," Esmay said. "Bringing in somebody like Auburn, then going to Fullerton and having Houston coming in, I couldn't have asked for anything better in terms of scheduling to get our guys ready for the battles and wars of the Pac-10."

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