Video by Evan Webeck | Sports Editor
Runs were plentiful Wednesday night as neither the starting pitcher for ASU baseball nor Wichita State made it out of the fourth inning.
ASU redshirt senior right-hander Zak Miller gave up six runs in just 2 1/3 innings, while Wichita State sophomore righty Garrett Brummett didn’t fare much better, allowing four runs in three innings.
The offense didn’t stop coming after the starters left the game, though, as the Shockers (12-8) continued the offensive onslaught, beating the Sun Devils (10-9, 1-2 Pac-12) 12-9 in front of a crowd of 2,937.
ASU coach Tim Esmay expected more out of Miller tonight, but he didn’t get it.
“We needed Zak Miller to go five (innings),” Esmay said. “We really had to try to piece (the bullpen) together from the fifth on. … It didn’t play out.”
Both teams went back and forth for four innings before the Shockers broke it open with a five-run fifth inning, taking the lead for good. ASU would mount a small comeback, but ultimately couldn’t make up the five-run deficit.
Freshman left-hander Nick Diamond relieved Miller, quickly ending the Wichita State rally with a double play. He’d use the double play again to get out of jam the next inning, but lightning wouldn’t strike three times.
The Shockers loaded the bases in the fifth, then Diamond lost all control. The freshman lefty walked in two straight runs before being replaced by redshirt junior right-hander Mark Lambson, who started his outing by walking in another run.
“(Diamond’s command) was obviously a mechanical thing,” Esmay said. “That’s something that’s a bullpen fix. That’s a fix we’ll see on tape … We’ll get him out there and get him down the mound a little bit better.”
It was a different story than ASU’s weekend series against Washington, in which Esmay was displeased with the offensive performance.
“From an offensive standpoint, these guys needed to make adjustments,” Esmay said. “I thought our offense let us down this past weekend against Washington, so our guys made some adjustments the last couple days and we treated it that way.”
The Sun Devils got back to their game tonight, Esmay said, playing small ball to score runs.
“We did a better job of stealing, we did a better job of putting bunts down, of scratching and clawing for one, instead of thinking we’re going to get the big double or home run,” Esmay said. “Because that’s not who we are.”
This was Miller’s second start of the season and unlike the hitters Esmay mentioned, he didn’t make any noticeable improvements. His first came against New Mexico on March 12, and he lasted just 2 2/3 innings and allowing five runs.
With the performance of freshman right-hander Seth Martinez on Tuesday, Miller’s No. 4 spot in the rotation isn’t locked in. Esmay said he hasn’t lost it yet, but Martinez makes the decision more difficult.
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