Sun Devils Chase Down Tigers For 9-5 Win

Auburn once again built a lead and let it slip away in a loss to Arizona State on Saturday.

Auburn. Ala.--Arizona State outfielder Matt Newman had two home runs and a double and designated hitter Joey DeMichele added a career high five hits as the Sun Devils defeated Auburn 9-5 Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park to earn the series win. Justin Hargett, Wes Gilmer, and Zach Alvord each had two hits for the Tigers (10-5) but coach John Pawlowski's club again missed too many opportunities in falling to the #7 Sun Devils who are now 11-2 on the season.

"We made some mistakes today and you can't get away with a lot of mistakes," Pawlowski said. "Whether it was base running mistakes or just handling the baseball. I think the biggest thing was that seven of the nine innings they had the leadoff guy on base. It always seemed like we were pitching with guys on base. That puts a lot of pressure on your team and on the defense. They are a quality team and they're going to find a way to score runs. They did today."

Auburn's Saturday struggles again continued on the mound as starter Slade Smith lasted just three and one/third innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. Reliever Andrew Morris wasn't much better as he gave up four earned runs on six hits in just three innings of work. Freshman Dillon Ortman pitched the final two and two/thirds, giving up two runs on four hits.

In two games Arizona State has pounded Auburn pitching for 16 and 17 hits respectively. Saturday was a continuation of problems for the Tigers, something Pawlowski said they'll have to take a long look at.

"The big thing is the transition innings," Pawlowski said. "We've got to be able to transition. We've got to get those starters deeper into the game so we can get to Sean Ray and Ethan Wallen, those guys have been very solid for us. We just have to find somebody to bridge that gap right there.

"Before this weekend we said we've got to get our guys ready to go and we may have to make some adjustments," he added about the rotation. "On Monday we're going to sit down and have our meeting and we have Alabama on Tuesday. It's definitely something we're going to look at."

On the flip side Auburn's offense scored four runs in the first three innings and just one more the rest of the way, something that has been the case all season long. In 15 games the Tigers have scored 51 runs in the first three innings and have allowed just eight. In the final six innings Auburn has scored just 44 runs while allowing 63. It's something that Pawlowski said is a concern.

"Early in the game today we had a real good approach," Pawlowski said. "We had some situations where twice we had the bases loaded with one out and only scored one run out of it. Hopefully we can come up with a hit there. We've got to keep talking to them about approach and trying to find a way offensively to get guys on base and manufacture some runs."

Justin Hargett races home for the Tigers. He had two hits and scored a run on the day.

For the second straight day Auburn jumped on the visitors early as the Tigers put two on the board in the second inning. Leading off, Gilmer walked and moved to third on a Dan Gamache single. A fielder's choice off the bat of Brooks Beisner scored Gilmer from third scored the first run with an Alvord single scored Beisner with two outs for a 2-0 Auburn lead. The Tigers had a chance for more but Alvord was thrown out at the plate following a Fradejas single to keep it at two runs.

The Sun Devils got a run back in the third as DeMichele's big day got off to a hot start with a double to left field. He scored moments later on a double by Xorge Carrillo who was thrown out trying to make it to third on the hit. That proved to be big as ASU added a pair of singles before Smith got out of the jam leading by a run.

Auburn again got the offense going in the third as Hargett's bunt single and a walk to Creede Simpson put the Tigers in business. Following a sacrifice bunt by Casey McElroy, Gilmer's single to right field scored Hargett for the 3-1 Auburn lead. Gamache followed with a ground ball that was thrown away at first base. The error scored Simpson and just like that the Tigers were up by three.

Once again it could have been more. With Gilmer on third and just one out the Tigers pinch hit Cullen Wacker for Beisner. Calling for the squeeze, Auburn was left hung out to dry as the outside pitch allowed ASU to easily run down Gilmer for the out. A groundout ended the threat with Auburn up three runs but knowing missed opportunities were left out there.

After struggling through the first three innings Smith couldn't get out of the fourth. Hitting the first batter on the first pitch of the inning, the sophomore got a fly ball for the first out to bring right fielder Matt Newman to the plate. Fouling off a number of pitches to stay alive with two strikes, Newman pushed the count to full and got a pitch to handle. He deposited it over the right field wall for a two-run homer to make it 4-3.

Morris came on in relief of Smith and got greeted rudely as DeMichele singled and Alex Carrillo followed with a double to score the runner and tie the game at four. Auburn had an opportunity to break open the tie game in the bottom of the inning as the Tigers loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles from Alvord and Hargett and a walk to Fradejas but Simpson hit into an inning-ending double play to kill the rally.

Both teams added a single run in the sixth as DeMichele doubled and came around to score for the Sun Devils. Auburn again loaded the bases with one out as Hargett's fly ball to left field scored pinch runner Jay Gonzalez to again tie the game, this time at five. That would be all though as Simpson's tough weekend continued with a strikeout to leave two runners stranded.

For the sixth time in seven innings Arizona State got the leadoff batter on as Morris walked Riccio Torrez and he quickly stole second to move into scoring position. An infield single by Zach Wilson put runners on first and second for Deven Marrero but a wild pitch moved Torrez to third, just what Marrero was looking for.

He hit a shallow fly ball to center field that Simpson caught for the Tigers and came up gunning to the plate. The throw hopped just in front of Auburn catcher Caleb Bowen and he couldn't handle it. That allowed the runner to score and Wilson to advance to second where he would score on a Newman double for the 7-5 Arizona State lead. They would added two more runs in the ninth to seal with victory and series against the Tigers.

Box Score

Auburn will try to salvage a game in the series on Sunday as the Tigers send junior Derek Varnadore (3-0, 1.17 ERA) to the mound against Kramer Champlin (2-0, 2.50) for Arizona State. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Plainsman Park.

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