March 4, 2006
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Auburn could not hold down a hard-charging Arizona State baseball team as the Tigers fell to the #17 Sun Devils, 12-3, on Saturday afternoon at Packard Stadium. The two teams will play the final game of the series at 12:45 p.m. CT on Sunday.
"We came out aggressive early and ready to go," AU Head Coach Tom Slater said. "We couldn't do the little things today. We preach to our guys about doing the little things because little things become big things."
The Tigers (8-7) opened the scoring as Tyler Johnstone (1-for-4, R) led off the game with a single into right and moved to second on Josh Donaldson's (1-for-4, R) single up the middle. Andy Bennett (1-for-3) then hit an infield single to load the bases. The Tigers then capitalized with two runs as ASU starter Drew Bowman threw a wild pitch with Jeff Boutwell (1-for-4) at the plate, scoring Johnstone from third. A hustling Donaldson also scored from second on the play as ASU catcher Preston Paramore threw the ball away trying to get Johnstone at the plate on the play.
Johnstone's first-inning single extended his streak of reaching base safely to 25 games.
Brett Butts (1-3) had cruised through the first three innings, allowing just a walk and a hit in the second inning before running into a little bit of trouble in the fourth. After allowing a leadoff single to Willy Fox (1-for-3, R) and a walk to Ike Davis (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R), Brett Wallace (1-for-5, R, RBI) singled into right, scoring Fox from second and moving Davis to third. Paramore (2-for-2, R, 2 RBI) then tied the game at 2-2 with a sacrifice fly to deep right-center.
"Brett did a good job early on, but we need to find a way to get him conditioned and up to 95 pitches to give us five-, six-solid innings," Slater said.
The Tigers defense let them down in the bottom of the fourth as AU, allowing four runs, three of them unearned, on four ASU (13-5) hits and three Auburn errors. JJ Sferra (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI) led off with a single and moved to third as Ryan Sontag (1-for-4, 2 R) laid down a sacrifice bunt that AU catcher Jonathan Rasberry mishandled and threw past Bennett at first base, allowing Sferra to go to third and Sontag to second. Colin Curtis (1-for-4, 2B, R, 3 RBI) followed with a sac fly to right that sent Russell Dixon to the wall, allowing Sferra to score from third. However, Philip Strigner's relay throw in from right sailed past Donaldson at third, allowing Sontag also to score. Davis laced a two-out double two batters later and scored when Brett Wallace's liner got past Bennett for a three-base error and he came home a batter later on Paramore's single to center.
The Sun Devils sloppy play gave AU a run back in the top of the seventh as ASU committed three errors and had two balks called on their pitching staff, making the score 6-3 after six-and-a-half innings.
ASU salted the game away with six runs on eight hits and an Auburn error in the bottom of the eighth, sending 10 hitters to the plate.
The two teams will play the final game of the series with a 12:45 pm CT start time on Sunday, a 15-minute move-up on time to accommodate Auburn's travel plans. No inning will start after 4 p.m. CT. Auburn will send Fr. LHP Evan Crawford (1-1, 4.85 ERA) to the hill while ASU is expected to counter with Fr. LHP Ike Davis (2-2, 6.49 ERA).