After taking some licks during a rigorous early-season schedule, the Arizona State baseball team is starting to rise to the level of its competition.
The Sun Devils (8-9) used a season-high 16 hits to pound No. 8 Baylor 12-4 Saturday and register their second straight victory over the visiting Bears. It was ASU's 10th game this year against a ranked opponent.
The Sun Devils' offensive eruption was fueled by four base hits from junior right fielder Travis Buck, and a four-RBI effort from designated hitter Willy Fox, who launched a two-run homer to right in the fourth inning that put ASU up 5-1.
Left fielder Colin Curtis went 3-for-3 while knocking in three runs, and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch drove in a pair of runs while reaching base safely in all five of his plate appearances. Gosewisch suffered a mild concussion Friday night after being beaned with an 88-mph fastball but certainly showed no ill effects from the injury on Saturday.
“I went to bed with a headache after having staples put in my head,” said Gosewisch, who also had several stitches used to help close the cut caused by the beaning. “But me and Kenny (head trainer Kenny McCarty) did some tests this morning and I took batting practice, and I felt good enough to go.”
Coach Pat Murphy was impressed by both Gosewisch's resiliency, and his team's ability to bounce back after a recent six-game losing streak in which the Sun Devils averaged only three runs per game.
“Tuffy has a big heart and his coming back shows his mental and physical toughness,” Murphy said. “We've played the toughest schedule in the country, but our kids didn't show any signs of quitting when we were down. We've played seven games in row against top ten teams, and nobody else in the country is doing that.”
The Sun Devils used a pitching-by-committee effort to limit the Bears to eight base hits, while yielding three earned runs. Starter Pat Bresnehan allowed one earned run and two hits before being pulled in the fifth inning. Bresnehan, a former reliever making just his third career start, struck out two and threw 83 pitches before giving way to Brett Bordes (1-2), who picked up the win in two innings of work. Tony Barnette pitched 1 2/3 innings of hitless relief for the Sun Devils, and Qunetin Andes came on in the ninth to close out the victory.
Murphy said he'd like to increase Bresnehan's endurance so he can continue to use him as a starter.
“We need guys who can go out there and throw 90-plus pitches. We are trying to build up his pitch count,” Murphy said.
Baylor starting pitcher Cory Vanallen, who entered the game with a 2-0 record and 0.68 ERA, was largely ineffective, giving up six earned runs and eight hits in four innings. The Bears were led offensively by first baseman Kyle Reynolds, who went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.
The two teams wrap up their series today at 1 p.m. at Packard Stadium.
EXTRA BASES: A fifth-inning single by Fox represented the 100,000th at-bat in ASU history.. . . The Sun Devils had three base runners caught stealing after being caught in pick-off plays, including two in the first inning.. . . Saturday was the first time in 10 games that ASU has scored more than seven runs in a game.