Redshirt sophomore outfielder Trever Allen knew exactly what he had to do when he went up to bat for the No. 24 ASU baseball team in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game versus No. 2 Arkansas.
Allen got the bunt sign from third base coach Mike Benjamin and laid down a bunt that ultimately decided the game.
“Benjy told me after I bunted that he put it in his bank that the third baseman was playing back during my second at bat,” Allen said. “As the pitcher started his windup, I saw the third baseman back up a little and went for it.”
Allen’s bunt rolled down the third base line and Razorback freshman pitcher Trey Killian threw the ball away. Allen ended up on third after another throwing error.
A wild pitch then scored Allen, breaking the 1-1 deadlock that ultimately gave the Sun Devils (7-2) a 3-1 victory over the Razorbacks (7-4).
Freshman pitcher Ryan Kellogg provided the third straight strong start of the weekend for the Sun Devils. He threw six innings and scattered only six hits and one run and struck out three.
Kellogg improved his ERA to 1.20 on the season and said he felt comfortable all night on the mound versus the preseason No. 1 team.
Coach Tim Esmay was impressed with Kellogg’s poise, especially with the offense struggling to produce.
“He did a great job today,” Esmay said. “What he did well for us was he didn’t get caught up in what we weren’t doing on offense. He stayed true to what he could control, and that’s get on the mound and throw the baseball. He did exactly what he asked him to do.”
The Sun Devils struggled offensively all night thanks to an incredible performance from Killian, who set down 16 straight at one point.
Kellogg played in the Under Armour All-American game with Killian and expected that type of performance from him.
“I knew it was going to be a battle between the two of us,” Kellogg said. “So I just wanted to go out there, compete with him and get our team the win.”
The Sun Devils did strike quickly off of Killian in the second. Sophomore designated hitter Nathaniel Causey doubled to bring home Allen.
Arkansas tied it up in the fifth courtesy of a two-out single from sophomore outfielder Joe Serrano.
Allen’s bunt broke the tie in the seventh. Junior infielder Michael Benjamin then scored after a RBI double by sophomore outfielder Jake Peevyhouse to make the score 3-1.
While the Razorbacks made two errors on the Allen play and three total for the game, the Sun Devils played an error-free, defensively sound game.
“It’s one of the things we’ve worked on so much in the past few weekends,” Allen said. “We’ve been showing glimpses of being better defensively and thank the Lord it was tonight that we played solid defense.”
The defensive improvement pleased Esmay as well.
“We’ve committed to being better at it and tonight I think will show the guys what we talk about having to separate between your defense and offense because defense can win you ballgames,” Esmay said.
Senior pitcher Alex Blackford struck out the side in the seventh and picked up the win, his first of the season.
Freshman pitcher Ryan Burr came in for the final two innings and shut down the Razorbacks, earning his second save of the weekend and season.
Overall, Esmay was satisfied with his team’s resolve and execution on the night.
“We didn’t crack tonight,” Esmay said. “We didn’t open up the door. We stayed in a close ballgame, and we made the plays at the end. We did some great things to give our guys a chance.”
Allen was also happy to finish off the sweep of the Razorbacks.
“This is huge,” Allen said. “Arkansas is a great program, and they are a solid club, and for us to beat them twice, that’s huge momentum for us going into Long Beach next weekend and the Pac-12 after that.”
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