TUCSON - For the second straight game against Arizona State, an Arizona outfielder departed with an injury suffered when running into the fence in vain pursuit of a batted ball.
These days, ASU is bruising Arizona’s bodies as well as its pride, with the latest punishment a 15-6 rout at Sancet Stadium on Friday. The Sun Devils had 17 hits, including four home runs — two by outfielder Colin Curtis.
In the last two contests between the teams, the Wildcats have been tagged for 37 runs.
“They’re a good team, but the last couple of games against them, we’ve swung the bats really well,” said Curtis, who was 5-for-6 with seven RBIs. “Our offense has gotten into a rhythm.”
While Friday’s game helped pad ASU’s statistics, it did little to help in the Pac-10 pennant race, with five league contests remaining.
The Sun Devils (33-17 overall) improved to 11-8 in conference play, but so did UCLA, which won at Stanford. Both teams remained two games back of first-place Oregon State, which defeated Washington State.
“This is a very offensive-oriented park, so you are going to see some high scores here,” ASU coach Pat Murphy said. “Our pitchers (starter Tony Barnette and reliever Brady Martinez) got big outs, and we walked only two guys. You need that kind of performance in a game like this.”
The loss clinched a losing record for the Wildcats (22-28, 7-12), who are two years removed from the College World Series. The most entertainment for many of the Sancet Stadium spectators came when a scuffle between a belligerent fan and security spilled into the plaza, and many leaned over the top of the third base-side stands to watch.
That happened with ASU leading 12-0 in the seventh inning, and the Sun Devils became similarly distracted. They committed three errors that led to a five-run Wildcat frame.
However, that was the only turbulence for ASU, which took a 3-0 lead on Curtis’ first home run, in the third inning. It was 5-0 when Curtis led off the sixth with a towering round-tripper, in which Wildcats center fielder Derek Decater hit the wall trying to reach for it and left the game.
“I’ve been working on trying to be loose and more relaxed at the plate,” Curtis said. “It’s been working.”
The Sun Devils were not done in the sixth, as outfielder Eric Sogard laced a single, and first baseman Ike Davis hit a two-run homer. The next batter, designated hitter Brett Wallace, homered against reliever Cory Burns
Davis’ home run set an ASU freshman record for RBIs in a season — he now has 60, topping Casey Myers’ 58 in 1998.
The beneficiary of the Sun Devils’ bat work was Barnette. The senior right-hander allowed six hits and two earned runs with two walks and eight strikeouts in six-plus innings.