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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Game Wrap - Washington at Arizona State

The first thing I will say about today's game was that it was HOT. We topped out at 87 degrees here in Phoenix, but there was literally not a single cloud in the sky and the sun was very powerful. I made it through six innings in my seat, but then had to bail for the shaded patio on the left field line-side of Packard Stadium.

The second thing I'll say is that this was a slugfest. The game began a ominously for the ASU Sun Devils. Their starting pitcher, Daryl Arreola, missed with his first 7 pitches down, walked the first two hitters he faced, and ended up leaving the ballgame part way through his 4th hitter he faced after apparently feeling some discomfort in his arm. Brady Martinez came on in relief, however, and pitched 2 2/3 innings of excellent baseball, allowing only 1 run on a double by Washington Huskie cleanup batter Curt Rindal--the only hit he allowed. In the meantime, the Sun Devils quickly got on the board, scoring 1 in the 2nd, 3 in the third, and 2 in the fifth to stake a 6-2 lead entering the sixth inning. By this time, Brett Bordes had come on in relief of Martinez, and allowed a run in the fifth.

Bordes' sixth inning started with a single allowed and a hit-by-pitch, but it looked like he was going to make it out of the inning without any damage when he retired the next two Huskie hitters on fly balls to center. Nevertheless, the next Washington hitter, Matt Hague, stepped to the plate and belted an opposite field 3-run homer off of a 2-2 pitch. Washington subsequently tied it up at 6 runs each in the top of the 7th with a solo shot to center field by Curt Randal. At this point, it looked like this game might be slipping away from the Sun Devils.

And then the Sun Devil half of the 7th inning. It was a bizarre inning. Bryce Mooney came on in relief for Washington and promptly gave up a sharply-hit single to ASU cleanup hitter Brett Wallace. Wallace advanced to second on an errant pick-off throw by Mooney (Washington Error No. 1), which may have rattled the pitcher as he walked the next batter, Ike Davis. Eric Sogard followed with a sharply hit ball that should have been the start of a double play, but Washington 3B Matt Stevens' throw to second pulled 2B Bradley Boyer off the bag (Washington Error No. 2). Preston Paramore, the smoking-hot ASU catcher, next smacked a 1-0 pitch for a double, plating Wallace and Davis. Sogard scored on the next pitch, a passed ball to ASU #8 hitter CJ Retherford, who was subsequently struck by a pitch on an 0-2 count. SS Matt Hall drove home Paramore on a single to right, which prompted Nick Haughian to come on in relief of Mooney. Colin Curtis walked, but JJ Sferra grounded into a 5-2-3 double play.

When the 9th hitter to bat in the inning, Willy Fox, hit a high fly ball to left-center, it looked like the inning was finally over...but Washington centerfielder Matt Hague apparently lost the ball in the sun at the last second. It struck him in the chest (Washington Error No. 3), allowing hall and Curtis to score while Fox advanced to second base. Mercifully, after Wallace walked, Ike Davis flew out to right, finally ending the inning. In all, 6 runs scored on only 3 hits with three errors and two left on base.

Washington could never recover from this inning. The managed a small rally in the ninth to score a run, but ultimately they let themselves down in that error-filled 7th inning. I also noted several other mistakes by the Huskies throughout the game, particularly in terms of outfielders missing cutoff men. Centerfielder Matt Hague also lost a ball in the sun early in the game on Ike Davis' leadoff double in the 2nd. Davis later scored. The star of the game had to be Preston Paramore, ASU's freshman catcher, who went 3-5 with two doubles, a run scored, and five RBI's. Good looking offensive catcher who also made several nice blocks behind the plate. Washington didn't test his arm, though, so I didn't get to see that aspect of his game.