It was a wild and emotional night at Packard Stadium Saturday night as the Arizona State Sun Devils defeated the Washington Huskies 7-5 in what will most likely be the home finale of ace Brady Rodgers.
The junior right-hander is projected to be a high draft pick in June's MLB Draft, and will most likely forgo his senior season at ASU for greener pastures.
The windy conditions did not aid Rodgers (10-2) in writing the storybook ending to his career at Packard Stadium, as he gave up five earned runs on eight hits over seven innings of work.
"Pitching at Packard (Stadium) it's always windy, the wind is always blowing out it was just a little bit harder today," said Rodgers. "It was not my greatest performance but luckily our offense was awake, it was definitely a team win,"
ASU jumped on the board early with a two-run home run from Abe Ruiz in the first inning. Washington countered in the top of the second with an RBI groundout from Brandon Berry,scoring Caleb Brown who led off the inning with a single. In the second inning Andrew Aplin and Deven Marrero both delivered RBI extra base hits to extend the ASU lead to 4-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, Washington catcher B.K. Santy hit an inside the park home run when ASU center fielder Andrew Aplin could not come up with the catch on a diving attempt. Aplin came up slow and had to be examined by the ASU medical staff. However, head coach Tim Esmay never doubted that Aplin would stay in the game.
"With him (Aplin) you just have to make sure that his arm hasn't left his shoulder and we basically said 'ah your good so you're staying in their,'" said Esmay.
Washington fought back and tied the game at five in the fifth inning with an RBI groundout from Jacob Lamb. Michael Benjamin led off the bottom of the sixth by getting hit by a pitch from Washington starter Tyler Davis, the next batter, Nathaniel Causey, doubled off of Davis (2-4), and Trevor Allen broke the tie with an RBI ground out that scored Benjamin, and gave ASU a 6-5 lead.
The Sun Devils got some insurance when Max Rossiter led off the eighth with a double down the left field line, and was brought home by an RBI ground out from Trevor Allen.
Rodgers was lifted in the eight inning and walked to the dugout to a thunderous standing ovation from the 2,740 fans in attendance.
"When I walked off and the fans gave me a standing ovation, my eyes started watering a little bit," said Rodgers. "But I have always been told there is no crying in baseball so I held them back as long as I could."
Joseph Lopez pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Rodgers, and Robert Ravago pitched a perfect ninth to collect his first save of the season.
"It was a weird game," said Esmay. "Washington just would not go away, they just kept battling, and they would scrap and claw, we gave a couple freebees early, and that allowed them to keep fighting against us," said Esmay.
Arizona State improves to 15-10 in conference play and picked up half a game on conference leading Oregon, who plays an out of conference series this weekend. ASU resumes its series with Washington tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Packard Stadium.