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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hard-hitting Arizona State tops Auburn 9-5

AUBURN, Ala. — The hits keep coming and coming for Arizona State, with no end in sight.

After a 16-hit effort in Friday’s opener, No. 7 Arizona State pounded out 17 hits Saturday in a 9-5 win against No. 23 Auburn at Plainsman Park.

Matt Newman hit two home runs and had four RBIs and Joey DeMichele was 5-for-5 with three doubles and four runs for the Sun Devils (11-2), who have won five straight against the Tigers (10-5) dating back to last year.

“It always seemed like we were pitching with somebody on base,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. “So it puts a lot of pressure on your team, puts pressure on the defense, and they’re a quality team and they’re going to find ways to score runs. And they did today.”

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Arizona State took command of a back-and-forth game in the late innings. Deven Marrero hit a sacrifice fly off reliever Andrew Morris (1-1) to break a 5-5 tie in the seventh. Newman followed with an RBI double to make it 7-5.

The Sun Devils tacked on two more in the ninth. Newman, who had one extra-base hit all year, hit his third of the day when he launched a Dillon Ortman offering into the right field bullpen. Xorge Carrillo added an RBI single to push the lead to four.

ASU’s six through nine hitters went 12-for-19 on the afternoon with two homers, six doubles and eight RBIs.

Auburn had a glut of wasted chances. After scoring four runs in the first three innings, it scored only one more time the rest of the game.

Zach Alvord ran through a stop sign at third in the second inning, getting thrown out by a considerable distance at the plate. An inning later, Cullen Wacker whiffed on a squeeze bunt, leaving Wes Gilmer hung out to dry between third and home.

The Tigers twice loaded the bases with one out or less but only managed to score one run in those two innings. They left nine runners on base overall.

“We’ve got to keep talking to them about approach and try to find a way offensively to try to get guys on base and manufacture some runs,” Pawlowski said.

With the conference opener looming next weekend, Pawlowski said he’ll have to re-evaluate the pitching rotation.

Starter Slade Smith lasted only 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. The right-hander has gotten through the fifth inning only once in four starts this year and has an 8.00 ERA.

“We said that we’ve got to get our guys ready to go,” Pawlowski said. “We may have to make some adjustments.”

The teams conclude the series Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Derek Varnadore (3-0, 1.17 ERA) takes the mound for Auburn against Arizona State’s Kramer Champlin (2-0, 2.50).

“Our mindset is it’s a one-game championship tomorrow,” Pawlowski said. “We’ve got to come ready to play. And to our program, to our kids in there, even though it’s non-conference, they are competitive and they want to win.”

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