MacPhee's Diving Play Keeps ASU Perfect

The ASU baseball team staved off a furious ninth inning rally from Houston on Sunday to hold on for a 6-5 victory and improved to 20-0 on the season, the second best start in school history. The best start in team history came back in 1961 when ASU started 21-0. The 2010 Sun Devils will have a chance to tie that mark next weekend when Pac-10 play opens against California.

Sunday's win didn't come easy, however. ASU took a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning, but UH plated three runs off of freshman reliever Jake Barrett and had the bases loaded with two outs.

For the first time this season, Barrett just didn't have it.

"I think he was almost too fresh today and he was overthrowing his fastball a little bit," Esmay said. "Today was the first day he didn't have control of his fastball and it kind of breathed some new life in that other dugout."

After UH cut the lead to 6-5, Esmay gave the ball to Swagerty, who was catching on Sunday. Swagerty got Cougars' first baseman Mike Murphy to hit one back up the middle.

Sophomore second baseman Zack MacPhee fully laid out and made a diving stab and flipped to sophomore shortstop Drew Maggi just in the nick of time to get the final out.

If that ball gets through, the Cougars take the lead, instead ASU hung on for a 6-5 win.

"That was a tremendous play," Esmay said. "One of the better plays to end the game that I have seen in awhile, that obviously was a tremendous help for us."

The call was very close at second base and five UH players and one assistant coach were ejected for their actions after the game. Cougars' coach Rayner Noble was also ejected in the fifth inning, for arguing balls and strikes.

While MacPhee made the diving stab, it was a big spot for Swagerty to come into after catching eight innings.

"If you ever caught before, you would have a lot of respect for what Jordan did today," Esmay said. "Catching a day game and coming out and throwing in the ninth."

MacPhee also made an impact at the plate on Sunday. His three run double gave ASU a 3-1 lead in the 3rd, but it was just a single that ended up being the winning run.

With two outs in the seventh inning, MacPhee singled and stole second base, putting him in position to score on a base hit by Calhoun.

"A run is a run and that point you were thinking it is 6-2, but that was a heck of an at bat," Esmay said. "Two out knock, steals a bag and then Kole gets a big knock and in the end that was the winning run."

ASU got strong outings from all three of their starting pitchers this weekend, with all three of them getting wins.

"The starting pitching was really solid. The starters went deeper than they have in the past and that was the plan," Esmay said. "Now I think they are in very good pitching shape and they should be ready for the long haul of the season."

The most impressing part of ASU's start may be the depth that the team is showing. Many different players have contributed to the team's success, either on the mound or at the plate. "These first 20 games we got a lot of guys AB's and a lot of guys innings on the mound," Esmay said. "I feel like we have been battle tested and guys have played enough to know their roles and what we are doing."

Now it is on to a whole new season, Pac-10 play. Winning a fourth straight conference championship won't be easy as, only one team in the conference is under .500.

But right now ASU just needs some rest after a busy last few weeks. They will get four days off before hosting Cal.

"This team just played eight games in ten days, they need to get their freshness and excitability back," Esmay said. "It is kind of nice that we aren't playing midweek this week so the guys can get their legs underneath them and get ready for the Pac."

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