Auburn, Ala.--The Arizona State Sun Devils left little doubt they deserve their Top 10 ranking as they defeated the Auburn Tigers 8-2 Friday night at Plainsman Park in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. Behind a dominant performance by starter Josh Satow, ASU improved to 12-3 on the year with the win while Auburn falls to 11-2.
For Auburn starter Bryan Woodall, Friday night wasn't a night to remember as he suffered his first loss of the season. In five innings of work, Woodall allowed 13 hits and six earned runs as Arizona State set the tone for this game early as they executed in every phase of the game in the victory. Coach Tommy Slater says the win can be attributed to a very good Arizona State team playing well.
"That's a very good Arizona State club," Slater says. "I thought that was a tremendous two-strike hitting approach. They were they way a year ago. I thought Bryan did a good job of getting to two strikes but obviously in the second, when they put up the four-spot, he had a hard time putting them away. Credit their hitters. They did an outstanding job of putting the ball in play and finding some holes."
Much of Arizona State's damage was done in a costly second inning as, following a scoreless first inning, the Sun Devils took advantage of three Auburn mistakes to jump on the Tigers early. Auburn starter Bryan Woodall retired Tim Smith for the second out of the second inning and the fifth-consecutive out to start the game to bring All-American candidate Petey Paramore to the plate. Committing the cardinal sin of a pitcher, Woodall walked Paramore to get the Arizona State offense in gear and set the bad news in motion for the Tigers.
Kiel Roling followed with a single to center field that put runners on first and second for Matt Hall. Before Hall could put the ball in play both runners moved into scoring position as a Woodall pitch got by catcher Ryan Jenkins for a passed ball. That would be big as Hall singled to center field on a 0-2 pitch from Woodall to score both runs and give ASU first blood. It was just the start of things as the Jarred Bogany doubled to again give the Sun Devils two runners in scoring position. This time is was leadoff man Andrew Romine that did the Tigers in with a single to right field. The hit scored both runs and gave the Sun Devils a commanding 4-0 advantage with the dangerous Satow on the mound.
Already 3-1 on the season with a complete game victory over Houston to his credit, Satow was masterful as he blended a change-up and breaking ball with a few fast balls to keep the Tigers off balance. Last season Satow faced the Tigers in relief and gave a taste of what to expect as he allowed four hits in three scoreless innings. This time around Satow was even better as he stymied the Tigers, giving up just five hits in seven innings of work to get the victory. Slater says the lefty was just too good on Friday night.
"Satow was outstanding," Slater says. "We got up on top of the plate, we tried to take the plate away from him. Credit him for sticking to his game plan. We saw lots of change-ups in advantage counts. The few hits we did have off him we had success going the other way. He was really good tonight."
Robert Brooks had two hits and also reached on a walk in Friday's game.
Up 4-0, Arizona State came back for more in the top of the fourth as Romine got things started with a bunt single and moved to third on a laser single to right field by Brett Wallace. A fundamentally-solid baseball team, Arizona State got a fly ball from Eric Sogard to center field to push across Romine and make it 5-0. The Sun Devils would add a single run in the sixth to take a six-run lead before Woodall would leave in favor of Josh Blake. The former Arizona State player got Auburn out of the sixth and pitched a scoreless seventh to keep the Tigers in the game heading to the seventh.
Despite a one-out single by Joseph Sanders in the bottom of the inning, Auburn couldn't get anything going against Satow as he retired the final two hitters. Heading to the eighth inning Auburn trailed 6-0 as freshman Austin Hubbard started the inning on the mound. Although the Homewood native gave up a walk and single the start the inning, he escaped without giving up a run as pinch-hitter Matt Spencer hit into a double play to end the eighth.
The Sun Devils added two runs in the top of the ninth off Hubbard to widen the lead to 8-0. A walk to Paramore got ASU off and running as, following a strikeout, he advanced to second on a wild pitch. A single to right by Hall gave Arizona State runners on the corners with just one out. Errors by Josh Donaldson at third and Brooks led directly to two runs being scored as the Tigers went to the bottom of the ninth hoping to at least make a game of it.
They accomplished their goal as Brooks got things started with a one-out walk to put the Tigers in business. Pinch hitters Ryan Stanley and Andy Bennett followed with back-to-back singles to score Brooks and break up the shutout. Another pinch hitter, Dustin Spruill, followed with a single of his own to score Stanley and cut the ASU lead to six. With two outs Edwards would walk to load the bases but Ben Jones struck out looking to end the game.
Auburn will send sophomore Paul Burnside to the mound on Saturday at 2 p.m. as the Tigers face Brian Flores in game two of the series. Slater says he's looking for a better performance out of his team but he knows winning won't be easy against the talented Sun Devil squad.
"Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher," Slater says. "They've got a good one going in Flores and we've got a good one going in Burnside. I like my guys. I have said that a thousand times already and I'm going to keep saying it all season long…it's two good clubs. We just need to come out and play hard and get after it."