Sophomore Drew Stankiewicz has the name “Lou” etched in chalk on his hat for every game.
The tribute is for his ailing grandfather, who the shortstop calls his inspiration.
Tonight, Stankiewicz was the ASU baseball team’s inspiration, going 3-for-5 in the season opener in his first career start at short and propelling the Sun Devils (1-0) to a 5-4 victory over Bethune-Cookman in 11 innings.
Stankiewicz opened the scoring in the third inning, lacing a ball off the right-field foul pole for his first career home run as a Sun Devil.
“Never in my life had I done that,” he said. “That was awesome.”
The Wildcats (0-1) struck back in the fourth inning, scoring twice off junior righty Trevor Williams, who was making his first career Friday night start.
Williams lasted only five innings, striking out four while allowing four hits after he conceded another run in the fifth. Head coach Tim Esmay said he wasn’t surprised with the 2012 First Team All-Pac 12′s performance.
“I guarantee anyone is hyped for the season opener no matter how many times you’ve done it,” Esmay said. “It’s human nature, you’re excited and have the responsibility on your shoulders.”
The Sun Devils (1-0) struck back with two of their own in the sixth with the help from an RBI double by junior James McDonald and a sacrifice fly from senior Max Rossiter.
The game remained scoreless in the seventh and eighth, mainly due to strong relief performances from freshmen Ryan Burr and Brett Lilek, which caught Esmay’s attention.
“What you saw tonight was how we want to use them early,” Esmay said. “We wanted to get their feet wet and welcome to the big time tonight. I was happy with both of those young men.”
Lilek ran into trouble in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs before throwing a wild pitch that gave the Wildcats the go-ahead run.
After sophomores Jake Peevyhouse and Rouric Bridgewater made the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the onus was on Stankiewicz once again. He came through, blooping a single to center to keep the Sun Devils alive.
Stankiewicz said the Wildcats’ rowdiness in the bottom of the ninth gave him a little extra motivation.
“Seeing the other team get a little rowdy, they are a little South Miami, so they chat a lot,” he said. “Honestly, it fueled our fire a fire a little bit.”
After a Michael Benjamin single advanced Stankiewicz to second, junior Kasey Coffman tied up the game after his line drive to first was mishandled, allowing Stankiewicz to score his second run of the night.
The duo of Coffman and Stankiewicz struck again in the 11th, this time giving the Sun Devils the victory.
Stankiewicz struck out, but a wild pitch allowed him to reach base for the fourth time on the night.
Benjamin walked, then after a balk by Wildcat reliever Byron Ferguson, Coffman stepped up to the plate and delivered.
“I saw that the infield was in, so I was looking for something I could elevate,” he said.
Coffman’s single was his third hit of the night and Stankiewicz’s third run.
Esmay had nothing but praise to give Stankiewicz, who batted ninth, and the entire Sun Devil team.
“Drew was awesome tonight,” he said. “Swinging the bat is always good, but I need our shortstops to make the plays and he did that tonight.”
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