ASU baseball rookies flourish in opening games

Freshman outfielder Johnny Sewald takes a swing during the Sun Devils’ 7-6 loss to Bethune Cookman on Feb. 17. Sewald made his first start of his career Sunday, batting 1-of-4 and recording a single. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

Freshman outfielder Johnny Sewald takes a swing during the Sun Devils’ 7-6 loss to Bethune Cookman on Feb. 17. Sewald made his first start of his career Sunday, batting 1-of-4 and recording a single. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

Opening weekend was a weekend of firsts for the ASU baseball team.

In Friday’s season opener, freshmen pitchers Ryan Burr and Brett Lilek made their first appearances. They relieved junior Trevor Williams, who was making his first career Friday night start.

Burr pitched two hitless innings, walking one and striking out three.

Lilek was stretched out a little further, giving up one hit, one walk, one run and striking out two over three innings. Both pitchers looked very poised in a pressure situation, which had to please head coach Tim Esmay.

Fellow freshman pitcher Ryan Kellogg made his debut Saturday and had arguably the best pitching performance of the weekend. He allowed only three hits and struck out four over four innings. Kellogg picked up the win in the game, also the first of his career.

The weekend of firsts didn’t stop on the mound, though.

Freshmen David Graybill and RJ Ybarra made their first career starts Saturday and didn’t disappoint. Graybill went 3-4 and Ybarra went 2-4 on a day in which the Sun Devils amassed 19 hits.

Three other freshmen — Dalton DiNatale, Cullen O’Dwyer and Tony DiMartino — earned their first career hit in Saturday’s 15-7 victory.

Freshman Johnny Sewald made his first career start, in centerfield, on Sunday. Sewald went 1-for-4, singling up the middle in the eighth inning.

 

Starting pitching woes

Although the Sun Devils won the series vs. Bethune-Cookman, no starting pitcher lasted more than five innings.

Williams pitched fine Friday night, allowing only four hits and three runs. But the Wildcat hitters worked the count nicely and made Williams throw a lot of pitches.

Sophomore Adam McCreery struggled Saturday, lasting only three innings after giving up six runs, four hits and four walks.

Sophomore Darin Gillies didn’t have any command on Sunday, walking six in little over an inning of work before getting pulled.

It will be interesting to see if Esmay switches up the starting rotation this weekend at Tennessee with the strong performances of Burr, Lilek and senior Alex Blackford.

Blackford pitched four innings Sunday, Feb. 17 with three hits, one run, one walk and three walks.

 

Defensive miscues

Defense was another issue for the Sun Devils opening weekend.

ASU made six errors, including four on Saturday, which resulted in three unearned runs.

Junior James McDonald leads the team with three errors, but he’s still making the transition from outfield to second base.

Graybill made an error on Saturday. He said the slow defensive start is due to early season jitters and that the Sun Devils will move past it quickly.

 

Nine is fine

The nine-hole provided a spark for a couple of Sun Devil hitters last weekend.

Sophomore Drew Stankiewicz batted ninth on Friday and homered in his first at-bat on his way to a 3-for-5 night.

Stankiewicz finished the weekend with a .538 batting average and had multi-hit performances in all three games.

Sophomore Jake Peevyhouse was moved down to the nine spot Saturday after going 0-for-5 Friday night and produced as well, going 2-for-3 with a walk.

 

Reach the reporter at dsshapi1@asu.edu