No. 1 Sun Devils sweep Minutemen in three-game series

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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For one thing, the Massachusetts baseball team was consistent this weekend.

In all three road matchups with No. 1 Arizona State, the Minutemen hung tough for much of the game.

But you couldn’t tell that by looking at the final scores.

UMass lost, 13-4, on both Friday and Saturday, after holding a lead in each game in the middle innings. Saturday’s game was tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning, before the Sun Devils exploded for nine runs. On Sunday, UMass trailed 2-1 in the fifth, but ASU scored six runs in the bottom of the inning en route to a 17-9 victory and the series sweep.

Before the three-game set began, UMass coach Mike Stone said it was good for his team to start the season against such a strong opponent.

“We like to have people that like to play the best, and we use it as a recruiting incentive,” he said. “They are one of the best teams in the country right now, so it will be a great challenge and it will be interesting so see how our guys respond to that.”

The Minutemen (0-3) opened their season later than any other team in the Atlantic 10, while the Sun Devils (12-0) started the year on Feb. 22 and have already outscored their opponents this season, 138-35.

On Sunday, UMass starter Nick Serino gave up two runs (one earned) in four innings to keep the game close. Jared Freni, the No. 1 starter on the Minutemen, came in to relieve Serino in the fifth. In one-third of an inning, eight of the nine batters Freni faced reached base, as the Sun Devils scored six runs in the inning to take an 8-1 lead.

ASU added nine runs in the final three innings to push the lead to 17-4. Seth Blair ran into trouble in the ninth, allowing UMass to score five unearned runs for a final tally of 17-9. Adam Tempesta paced the Minutemen at the plate, with two hits and three runs batted in.

The highly-touted Blair was roughed-up in Saturday’s game as well and didn’t make it out of the first inning in his start. UMass got the early lead, 3-0, but Stephen Sauer came in for Blair and shut the Minutemen down. His seven innings of stellar pitching (one run allowed, 11 strikeouts) helped the Sun Devils take the lead at 4-3 after six innings.

UMass tied the game at 4-4 in the eighth on a run-scoring single by Mike Donato, but the Sun Devils quickly answered back with nine runs in the bottom of the inning to secure the victory. Closer Aaron Smith received much of the damage, allowing five runs without registering an out.

Friday’s game was almost identical. UMass held a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning after a Ryan Franczek solo home run and an Andy Tuetken two-run single. ASU tied the game in the fifth inning and took the lead for good with three runs an inning later. The Sun Devils tacked on seven runs in the eighth inning.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]