Ten days ago, freshman pitcher Ryan Kellogg had yet to make his collegiate debut for the No. 22 ASU baseball team.
Fast forward to Sunday, and the southpaw made his first career start and earned his second career win as the Sun Devils (4-2) knocked off Tennessee 5-1 in the rubber match of their three-game series.
Kellogg struggled in the opening frame, giving up a two-out RBI single to Volunteer freshman Christin Stewart and throwing away a pickoff attempt of Stewart, allowing him advance to third.
Kellogg admitted that nerves got to him during the inning.
“I was nervous during the first inning, but after that and I got the first couple of outs out of the way,” Kellogg said. “It was nice to take a breath, step back and throw the baseball.”
After the shaky first inning, Kellogg was untouchable.
The freshman retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced, allowing only hit during that time.
A pair of two-run long balls in the fourth and fifth innings had accented Kellogg’s strong performance.
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Trever Allen took his at-bat against Tennessee freshman starting pitcher Andy Cox ten pitches before stroking a 3-2 pitch deep over the left field fence, his second homerun of the season and on the weekend.
Junior utility player James McDonald extended the Sun Devil lead to 4-1 with his own long at-bat.
McDonald made Cox pitch nine times before hitting his first homerun of the season, which seemed almost identical to Allen’s.
Kellogg said the offensive firepower gave him a little more confidence in his own abilities.
“Once they started putting together hits and scoring runs, I just went back to basics,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg was pulled after five innings, surrendering only three hits and a run while striking out six.
He was replaced by fellow freshman pitcher Ryan Burr, who was equally impressive at Kellogg.
Burr pitched three run-free innings, allowing only two hits and striking out two.
Kellogg was impressed with Burr’s lockdown performance.
“Burr was really solid today,” Kellogg said. “He held his own, threw strikes and just let the hitters make contact. He didn’t try and do too much.”
The Sun Devils tacked on their fifth run in the sixth courtesy of a Volunteer wild pitch.
Senior reliever Matt Dunbar came in to secure the four-run lead in the ninth and made things interesting by walking the bases loaded, bringing the tying run to the plate.
Dunbar struck out Volunteer freshman pinch hitter Eric Moberg to end the threat, one of two in the inning for the senior.
“I was pretty sure the game was in hand,” Kellogg said. “It definitely made the game a little more interesting, but I knew Dunbar was going to get the job done. That’s why he’s in the back end of the bullpen.”
The Sun Devils won their second consecutive series to begin the season and bounced back nicely following Saturday’s 11-2 blowout loss, which equaled a successful weekend in Kellogg’s eyes.
“Yeah, we are happy coming out of here,” Kellogg said. “Yesterday was a little rough, but we bounced back today and battled.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org