TEMPE, Ariz. – Joey DeMichele homered and drove in four runs, while Arizona State starter Mitchell Lambson threw 6.1 strong innings as the 10th-ranked Sun Devils defeated No. 19 Arkansas, 13-4, in the Tempe regional championship game on Sunday night at Packard Stadium.
Arkansas ends its season with a 40-22 record, while Arizona State improves to 42-16. The Sun Devils will play in next week’s Super Regional round against the winner of the Austin, Texas, regional. Texas and Kent State will meet in the if necessary game of the Austin regional on Monday afternoon.
Six different Sun Devils had at least two hits, led by the two-hit, four-RBI performance from DeMichele, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tempe regional. Andrew Aplin and Johnny Ruettiger each had two hits and two RBI, while Deven Merrero, Matt Newman and Zach Wilson also had two hits apiece.
Arkansas was led offensively by junior James McCann. McCann, a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, went 2-for-5 with two RBI. Jarrod McKinney and Matt Reynolds also had two hits in the loss. Collin Kuhn added a RBI and was hit by a pitch for the 53rd time in his career, setting a new Arkansas career record for HBP.
Making his second start of the year, Lambson picked up the win to improve to 7-3 on the season. The left hander gave up four runs on seven hits and struck out nine in his 6.1 innings of work.
Arkansas starter Barrett Astin took the loss to drop to 5-2. Astin gave up three runs on six hits and had a strikeout in three innings. In relief, Cade Lynch and Nolan Sanburn each turned in scoreless outings. Lynch gave up a hit in 1.1 innings, while Sanburn tossed a shutout ninth inning.
Arizona State grabbed an early lead with two runs in the top of the first. Ruettiger led off the game with a triple down the right field line. After the next two batters were retired, DeMichele hit a two-run home run over the right field wall to put the Sun Devils in front 2-0. The homer for DeMichele was his ninth of the year.
The Sun Devils added another run in the top of the second with a two-out rally. Zack MacPhee started the rally with a bad-hop double past Dominic Ficociello at first base. Aplin traded places with MacPhee as he doubled to deep right-center field to give Arizona State a 3-0 lead.
After going quietly in the first two innings, Arkansas had its first scoring chance in the bottom of the third. Jacob Rice reached on a one-out infield single and then moved to third on a base hit to right field by Bo Bigham with two outs. Tim Carver then walked to load the bases. Lambson worked out of the jam by getting McCann to pop out to first to end the inning and leave the bases jammed.
Arizona State broke the game open with seven runs in the top of the sixth. With one out, Wilson and Newman hit back-to-back singles. A walk to Xorge Carrillo put a runner on every base. MacPhee drew a walk to score Wilson. Aplin then hit a liner off of Bigham’s glove and into center field to bring home Newman on what was ruled a RBI single. Ruettiger plated a pair of runs with a single to left field. A double to right field by Marrero scored another run and DeMichele closed the scoring in the inning with a single to right field to bring home two runs.
The Razorbacks got on the board with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Carver drew a leadoff walk and scored all the way from first on a double down the left field line by McCann.
Arizona State got that run back in the top of the seventh. With two outs, MacPhee walked and then stole second base. Aplin reached on a ground ball that was mishandled by Ficociello at first base, which also allowed MacPhee to score from second with the Sun Devils’ 11th run. Back-to-back walks to Ruettiger and Marrero loaded the bases with two outs. Riccio Torrez drove in a pair of runs with a single to left field.
Arkansas was able to push three runs across in the home half of the seventh. McKinney led off the inning with a triple to center field and came across the plate on a one-out wild pitch by Lambson. Reynolds then grounded a single to center field and moved to second after a walk to Bigham. Carver popped out to the second baseman in shallow center field for the second out of the inning. McCann scored Reynolds with a single up the middle. Ficociello and Kuhn were then hit by pitches. The hit by pitch to Kuhn scored Bigham for the third run of the inning. Robinson flied out to right to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.