ASU's bats break out to sweep USC

The first inning and Jake Borup aren't very good friends. For the sixth time in seven starts, the sophomore right hander allowed first inning runs, spotting USC four in the opening frame. However, unlike last weekend up in Pullman, ASU's bats rose to the occasion and Borup settled in to lead the Sun Devils to 14-6 win and a sweep of USC at Packard Stadium.

It is becoming almost expected that Borup will struggle in the opening frame and Sunday was certainly no different.

The Trojans (15-20, 2-10 Pac-10) first three batters of the game reached to load the bases and Alex Sherrod made it 1-0 with a base hit to right, but Kole Calhoun gunned out Ricky Oropesa at the plate on a beautiful toss and Austin Barnes blocked Oropesa from reaching the plate.

Borup then couldn't handle a slow hit ground ball off the bat of Keith Castillo allowing another run to score.

The big blow of the inning came when Kevin Roundtree lined a two-out double into the right field corner that scored a pair of runs and put USC up 4-0.

"I don't know (what it is). I wish I had some kind of answer," Borup said of his first inning struggles. "First innings seem to be my nemesis. I guess it is a good thing I am not the closer."

Borup said he felt like he didn't make many bad pitches in the first inning and ran into a bit of some bad luck.

"That is why we didn't go get him. He only made two bad pitches," ASU head coach Tim Esmay said. "It was good pitches and some hard luck. I don't know if he even settled in, he just kept making good pitches and got some outs."

The Sun Devils (31-3, 9-3) got one back in the bottom of the first inning. Drew Maggi and Zack MacPhee both drew walks to start the inning and advanced up to second and third on a double steal.

Riccio Torrez then cut the Trojans lead to 4-1 with a groundout that drove home Maggi.

ASU then took the lead for good with a big second inning, scoring four runs on five base hits. Johnny Ruettiger, Deven Marrero and Andrew Aplin started the frame with three straight singles, with Aplin's making it 4-2.

One out later, Maggi singled home Marrero, then USC starter Chad Smith handed ASU a pair of runs to take the lead. First, he threw a pickoff throw away that allowed a run to score and then balked in a run to make it 5-4 ASU.

ASU added on to its lead by scoring two runs in each of the next three innings.

In the third, the Sun Devils got RBI singles from Marrero and Barnes and in the fourth it was a two RBI double by Ruettiger that put ASU up 9-4.

Kole Calhoun laced a double to right in the fifth that scored two runs and added another run scoring double in the seventh that put ASU up 12-4.

The Trojans defense melted down in the eighth inning, allowing ASU to score two more runs in the eighth inning.

USC pitcher Alex Sherrod threw behind Drew Maggi and was ejected, starting a war of words between coaching staffs. Esmay and ASU assistant coach Travis Jewett both got into a heated exchange with USC head coach Chad Krueter and assistant coach Tom House.

"There was frustration from the other side, things weren't going well," Esmay said. "That is not a fun feeling. Sometimes your frustrations get to a point where it gets a little out of hand."

Jewett and House were both ejected, along with Sherrod. After the nonsense, Esmay huddled his team together and calmed them down.

"He said ‘be smart'," Ruettiger said. "We have a lot to lose and just be smart and do the right thing."

Esmay didn't want his team to risk doing something that would get them suspended.

"The message is the message that it is every day," he said. "We aren't going to do anything to jeopardize an opportunity for these guys to play. You don't gain anything from it."

Borup settled in nicely after the rough start and allowed only two hits the rest of the way. He ended up working seven innings and allowed five runs, but only two of them were earned.

"It is just being aggressive. As the game goes on you get more lose," Borup said. "The difference between a zero inning and a four run inning could be a few inches on a slider. We are going try and get things going."

Borup said that seeing his offense get him the lead back right away helped him settle down.

"To see them battle and put up runs, it motivates me to not let my teammates down and continue to throw strikes and not give up big hits," he said.

Jimmy Patterson pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Jordan Swagerty worked the ninth, allowing a solo home run to Alex Glenn. Ruettiger finished 3-5 at the plate with a pair of RBI's and Calhoun drove in three.

"I am pretty locked in at the plate," Ruettiger said. "I have a lot more confidence in myself right now than at the beginning of the year."

After struggling to burst out on the scoreboard recently, it was ASU's best offensive performance in weeks.

"It is a long year and you go through peaks and valleys, we were in a little of a middle of the road funk," Esmay said. "Hitting is contagious and when someone finally gets a big knock it is like the weight is off your shoulders. It was a relentless offensive attack and a relaxed attack."

ASU will host Arizona in a non-conference matchup at Packard Stadium on Tuesday evening at 6:30 PM. Freshman Brady Rodgers will likely get the start for the Sun Devils.

Even though it is a non-conference game, it is still a big game.

"It's U of A," Esmay said. "It is not going to take much to get our guys ready to play. Being around this program as long as I have, I really respect Andy Lopez and his program. It will be good baseball."

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