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Santa Clara Offense Proved Too Much for ASU

Arizona State’s success over their first two games of the season has been indicative of one key principle: the offense is solid. The contributions of guys like Isaiah Jackson, Jacob Tobias and Brandon Compton have instilled a level of confidence that Willie Bloomquist’s team has the makings of a Pac-12 playoff push. 

An area ASU will look to monitor closely is the pitching staff, which has boasted a 8.50 ERA so far during opening weekend. Thomas Burns, Ben Jacobs, and Cole Carlon have showcased their strengths so far on the mound, but it will take a team effort to limit the damage and maintain early leads. With Santa Clara looking to avoid the sweep, Arizona State would need to continue their dominance on both sides of the baseball Sunday afternoon.

The offense would continue to provide a cushion early on, putting up three runs off the Santa Clara right hander Cole Kitchen in the first. Catcher Ryan Campos, who was off to a slow start at the plate, delivered the first blow with an opposite field two-run shot. Isaiah Jackson would earn his 10th RBI of the season on a sac fly to right, and the ballgame would begin 3-1 ASU after one frame.

Santa Clara wouldn’t take long to fight back, putting up three runs of their own in the top of the second, and another three runs in the top of the third. Santa Clara left fielder Jon Jon Berring notched his sixth and seventh hit of the series, a two-run single that tied the game at three and a long two-run homer to right field that blew Santa Clara’s lead wide open at 7-3.

The back and forth would continue, however, as ASU drove in four in the bottom half of the third. Ethan Mendoza in his first start as a Sun Devil drove in two on a long single Berring lost in the sun. Two batters later, Harris Williams would drive in another two runs thanks to an opposite field single that tied the game once again, this time at seven apiece.

After a scoreless fourth, Santa Clara struck again, this time with a three-run homer by third baseman Efrain Manzo. Between Manzo and Berring, they collectively had driven in 62% of Santa Clara’s runs up to that point. 

Tyler Meyer and Jonah Giblin would each surrender five runs in their turns on the mound, a similar connotation of yesterday’s troubles. Meyer, who missed all of last season to a labrum injury, did show levels of deceptiveness by racking up six strikeouts in just his two and two thirds innings of work.

Ben Jacobs would continue his excellent start to the season out of the bullpen, going two and a thirds innings whilst allowing just one run and striking out four. Jacobs was able to stove off the potent Bronco’s long enough for ASU to answer back.  

In the bottom of the seventh, following an RBI groundout by Harris Williams, Ryan Campos would come up clutch yet again, launching a game-tying three-run shot to center field.  His second home run of the game changed the life of the ballgame, and ultimately gave Arizona State another chance to get ahead.

ASU and Santa Clara would trade blows in the eight, the Broncos with a Jordan Lewis RBI single and the Sun Devils with a long RBI single from Mendoza that ricocheted off the top of the wall in left. 

Arizona State’s offense kept them in the game time and time again, but sadly it wasn’t enough. In the top of the ninth, Jon Jon Berring would deliver the final blow, swatting his second two-run homer that would cap the Broncos runs at 14. ASU rallied in the bottom half of the inning, including a solo homer from Harris Williams, but Santa Clara would get Isaiah Jackson to pop up for the final out of the game and avoid the sweep.

The Sun Devil pitching staff took another beating, and coach Willie Bloomquist has his theories on why. “I don’t believe up and down our pitching staff that we get lit up that way,” Bloomquist said. “We’re tipping pitches, and those guys are very good at picking stuff (up) and those things that we have to clean up.”

ASU didn’t manage the sweep, but they did manage the series victory. Bloomquist will look to prepare his guys further before Tuesday’s game against Kansas State. 

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