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Spence returns, leads baseball to win over Kansas State

March 11, 2009

After recording a season-low six hits in Tuesday night's 6-2 loss, the #4 Arizona State Sun Devils bounced back in a big way on Wednesday, pounding out a season-high 18 hits in a 12-1 victory over Kansas State at Surprise Stadium. The Devils were also bolstered by the return of LHP Josh Spence, who picked up the win in his first action since taking a line drive off his face against Missouri on March 1. ASU improves to 12-2 with the win.

Spence went four innings of shutout ball in relief of starter Matt Newman to improve to 3-0 on the year. Newman went three innings, allowing only four hits and one unearned run. Jordan Swagerty, who entered the game in the eighth with the tying run on deck, earned his third save of the year after retiring all four batters he faced.

Carlos Ramirez got things started for the Devils in the first, blasting his seventh homer of the year to left, a three-run shot that put ASU up 3-0. K-State would answer in the top of the second, scoring an unearned run to make it 3-1. The Wildcats would threaten again in the fourth, putting the first two runners on base against Newman. Head coach Pat Murphy summoned Josh Spence from the bullpen, and the Aussie promptly got the next three Wildcats out to end the threat.

The Sun Devils would add two insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, when Riccio Torrez smashed a triple into the gap in right center that scored Matt Newman and Mike Leake to put ASU up 5-1.

Kole Calhoun came on in relief of Spence to start the eighth, and it looked like he would cruise. He retired the first two hitters and induced a pop up by the third, but he lost the ball in the lights and it dropped for a two-base error. Calhoun would walk the next hitter, giving K-State two on and two out down by four. Swagerty would come on and end the threat after Jared McDonald made a great stop at first and threw out the runner to end the inning.

Arizona State would leave no doubt in the eighth, as they exploded for seven runs to put the game away. Calhoun made up for his error in the top of the inning by leading off the bottom half with a solo blast to right center field. It was initially ruled a double after it hit the railing on top of the fence, but was then changed to a round-tripper, his second of the season. Carlos Ramirez and Jordan Swagerty would each plate rungs to add to the lead, then Riccio Torrez brought home two more on a double to the gap, his third hit of the night. Raoul Torrez and Jason Kipnis would each add RBI singles in the inning.

Riccio Torrez led the way with his three hits and four RBI, while Mike Leake collected three hits of his own. Calhoun, Kipnis, Ramirez and Raoul Torrez all added two hits for the Sun Devils. The Sun Devil bullpen was once again stellar, as three pitchers did not allow a run in six innings of work.

Arizona State will continue its trip to Surprise on Friday, when they take on the Kansas Jayhawks at Surprise Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 45 minutes following the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals Spring Training game.