ASU Rebounds to Take Series from Washington

After letting Saturday's game slip through their fingers, the No. 1 ASU baseball team knew that they couldn't afford to lose the series on Sunday. From the opening pitch of the series finale at Packard Stadium, the Sun Devils were ready to play. ASU (33-5, 11-4 Pac-10) turned a school-record five double plays and connected for two more home runs in a 10-4 victory over Washington.

"We always have talked about after a loss is coming back out and forgetting about it, having a short memory," senior outfielder Kole Calhoun said. "One thing (ASU head coach Tim Esmay) has said and a lot of coaches I have had have said is, adversity. A loss doesn't build character it revels it."

The win also meant that ASU has still not lost back-to-back games this season.

"The next day we come out and show these guys what we got," Calhoun said. "I think it says a lot about us that we don't go back to back losses."

The tone was set during the very first at bat of the game when UW left fielder Julian Pollard hit a rocket in the hole that second baseman Zack MacPhee laid out and made a spectacular diving stop to get the speedy Pollard at first.

"We came out ready to play defense. That was our theme right out of the gates, somebody makes a play," MacPhee said. "We were on our toes the whole day, Esmay made sure we came out ready to play."

The diving stab was huge for ASU starter Jake Borup, who then allowed a base hit, but worked a rare scoreless first inning by getting Jacob Lamb to ground into the first of many double plays.

"How about that play that MacPhee made to start the game? That is being ready, first pitch," Esmay said. "Sometimes the game changer can be in the first inning, then to make that play and get the double play to get out of that inning that means a lot."

The offense certainly came ready to play, too. Drew Maggi opened up the bottom of the first with his second home run of the season and his first career blast at Packard Stadium.

A fan driving in his car actually recovered the home run ball from the road and brought it to the stadium so Maggi could have the ball from his first home run at home.

Following the home run, ASU loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by MacPhee and Calhoun and Riccio Torrez was hit by a pitch.

Zach Wilson followed by rolling into a double play, but MacPhee crossed the plate to make it 2-0 ASU.

The MacPhee and Calhoun duo helped ASU strike again off of UW starter Geoff Brown in the third inning. MacPhee roped a double into the left field corner and for the second straight night came into score on a Calhoun homer that went over Rural Road.

It was Calhoun's sixth blast of the season, tying him with MacPhee and Riccio Torrez for the team lead.

UW (20-18, 5-7) kept getting hits off of Borup, but finally broke onto the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Borup hit Caleb Brown to start the inning and allowed a one out single to Miles Kizer.

It appeared that Borup got a little help to work out of the inning, because on the single, Kizer turned too far off of first base and left fielder Matt Newman's throw into the infield eventually retired Kizer, with Brown moving up to third.

David Bentrott picked up his teammate with a two-out, RBI single that plated Brown and cut ASU's advantage to 4-1.

The Sun Devils struggled with getting the clutch hit lately, but finally got a few in the bottom of the fifth that helped them pull away.

With two outs and runners at second and third, senior Raoul Torrez sent a bloop single to right that scored two. Matt Newman followed with a double that scored Torrez and ASU built a 7-1 lead.

All the base hits finally got to Borup in the sixth inning and forced him out of the game.

The Huskies loaded the bases with nobody out, and after a fielders' choice that scored a run, Troy Scott singled to right to cut it to 7-3.

That was all for Borup, who gave way to freshman Brady Rodgers out of the bullpen. Rodgers worked out of the sixth and tossed two scoreless innings after that.

ASU added insurance in the seventh on Zach Wilson's fourth home run of the season and another run was added in the eighth on an RBI single by Riccio Torrez.

Freshman Jake Barrett worked the ninth and allowed a solo home run to Scott.

Borup picked up his eighth win of the season, allowing three runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Rodgers allowed just one hit in his 2 2/3 innings of relief.

"He was willing to get a double play ball, as opposed to trying to get the big strikeout or trying to be perfect," Esmay said of Borup. "His pitches are so late breaking and he took what the game gave him. He was a lot more efficient."

Because of that ASU was able to turn five double plays. They had a chance at breaking the school record with a sixth in the ninth, but MacPhee bobbled the ball, allowing them to just get one out on the play.

"Mike Benjamin works a tremendous amount of hours with those guys and what goes into play is not only making plays, but positioning and understanding pitches-the game within the game," said of his defense. "Our guys are starting to understand that stuff."

Just like last season, Calhoun is starting to heat up down the stretch. He went a perfect 3-3 at the plate on Sunday, with a pair of walks.

"I am not really trying to do too much," Calhoun said. "This is a tough game and when you try to force things, at least myself that is when I get in slumps. I've been trying to stay over the ball and use the whole field."

With the worst pitching staff in the Pac-10 in terms of giving up home runs in town this past weekend, ASU took advantage and hit eight home runs on the weekend, including two each from 3-4-5 hitters Calhoun, Riccio Torrez and Wilson.

"The biggest question mark has been our lack of home runs," Esmay said. "You look at that and that is these guys making a little bit of an adjustment. You have to be aggressive and you can't try to hit home runs. They were aggressive to pitches but they were calm about it."

ASU will now host San Francisco for games on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Los Angeles for a big Pac-10 show down at Jackie Robinson Stadium against No. 5 UCLA next weekend. The Sun Devils currently hold a one game lead over second-place Stanford and a 2.5 game lead over third-place UCLA with 12 conference games to play.

It is a big week upcoming, but for the time being, Saturday's loss seems to have refocused the Sun Devils.

"It wakes you up and it lets you know that if you don't play hard and play the way that we play, you can get beat," MacPhee said. "Sometimes it is good to get us going and lock us back in."

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