Arizona baseball tops ASU to avoid series sweep

TUCSON, Ariz. — Freshman Michael Hoard led a balanced offensive attack while a trio of pitchers combined for a two-hitter as the Arizona baseball team knocked off Arizona State 6-1 to avoid a sweep before a crowd of 3,468 at Hi Corbett Field on Sunday evening.

Seeing his first action in the last six games, Hoard went 2 for 3 as the starting designated hitter, including a two-run double with two outs in the first to put the Wildcats on top 2-0.

It was effectively the game-winning hit, because Arizona’s pitching staff shut down the ASU bats. Starter Tyger Talley allowed just one run on two hits over 4 1/3 innings before relievers Cody Moffett and Bobby Dalbec combined for 4 2/3 hitless innings in relief.

Arizona (18-25, 7-14 Pac-12) opened up a 2-1 contest with two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth for a comfortable 5-1 advantage. The Wildcats also took advantage of some sloppy play in the eighth to push the margin to five runs.

In the opening frame, Scott Kingery started the two-out rally by drawing a walk against ASU starter Darin Gillies. Trent Gilbert followed with a single, which set the table for Hoard to lace a double into the gap in left-center.

Talley picked up three strikeouts over the first two innings before giving up the Sun Devils’ only run of the game in the third. He issued a one-out walk to Tucker Esmay, who later scored on Drew Stankiewicz’s sacrifice fly.

Willie Calhoun and Riley Moore opened the home half of the fourth with singles, and Joseph Maggi bunted both runners into scoring position. Zach Gibbons collected an RBI with a sacrifice fly, and Kevin Newman followed with a two-out single to send a second run home.

In the top of the fifth, Talley issued his fourth walk of the game and Johnny Sewald moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. That prompted the Wildcats to call on Moffett out of the bullpen, and the left-hander quickly retired the next two hitters to avoid any trouble.

Arizona added to its lead in the fifth, but missed out an opportunity to put the game away when reliever Eder Erives ran into trouble.

Gilbert led things off with a single, then Dalbec, the starting first baseman, added a single one out later. Calhoun drew a walk to load the bases, and Moore ripped a bases-loaded single through the right side of the infield to drive in Gilbert.

Erives was lifted in favor of Hever Bueno, who dodged trouble with a couple quick outs to strand three on the bases.

Still, a 5-1 cushion proved to be plenty for the Wildcats. Moffett retired the Sun Devils in order in the sixth and worked around a hit batter to open the seventh.

In the eighth, Moffett walked Stankiewicz, but Arizona State’s shortstop was picked off when he was unable to get back to first after Moore, Arizona’s catcher, blocked a ball in the dirt.

Moffett then walked Nathaniel Causey, and Dalbec moved from his first base position to the mound to retire all five batters he faced to finish the game.

It was not necessary, but Arizona tacked on an extra run in the bottom of the eighth.

Kingery drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a ground out. Reliever Jordan Aboites then walked Kenny Meimerstorf, and a wild pitch on ball four advanced Kingery to third. After Ryan Burr replaced Aboites, another wild pitch sent Kingery home with the game’s final run.

Arizona managed just 12 hits in the first two games of the series as ASU won 2-1 in the opener and rolled to a 7-0 victory on Saturday. But an 11-hit effort in the finale was headlined by multiple-hit performances by Gilbert, Hoard and Moore, who was 3 for 3. Gilbert also had two runs scored.

Moffett (W, 2-2) earned the win with three innings of work. He tallied two strikeouts while putting just three runners on base.

Gillies (L, 1-4) took the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks over four complete innings. Neither Gillies nor any of the four relievers registered a strikeout in the game.