The Sun Devils earned their 28th win on the season in Las Vegas by shutting out UNLV’s offense in seven of nine innings.
ASU, with freshman pitcher Seth Martinez on the mound, set the tone early as the first three UNLV batters grounded out, struck out and flied out in the first inning.
The offense was also on display. Junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz went 3-5 on the day, batted in three runs and had two stolen bases. Junior center fielder Trever Allen and junior left fielder Jake Peevyhouse each had an RBI and junior second baseman Tucker Esmay went 2-3 and scored three runs.
It was a day marked by mistakes by UNLV. ASU scored its first two runs because of a throwing error made by UNLV senior shortstop Matt McCallister in the second inning. UNLV also walked eight batters, allowed four stolen bases and gave up a run with a wild pitch.
Martinez brought his stuff with him to Las Vegas. In the 102 pitches he threw in almost seven full innings, he gave up five earned runs and struck out three batters.
While the numbers aren’t necessarily eye-popping, nobody could argue with the results. Of the 27 batters Martinez faced, 20 could not make it to first base safely. ASU’s defense also had two double plays while Martinez was on the mound.
Shades of ASU’s 8-6 win over Oregon on May 11 were seen as the Sun Devils almost gave up a big late-game run in the seventh inning. Four runs were scored by UNLV, including three given up by Martinez before he was replaced by sophomore Eric Melbostad.
The lead was cut to four after ASU was up 9-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh. However, neither team would score in the last two innings and 9-5 would end up the final score.
This win gives Martinez his fourth win on the season while still maintaining a goose egg in the loss column. Martinez now joins sophomore Brett Lilek in the four-win club while sophomore Ryan Kellogg still leads the Sun Devils with seven.
The Sun Devils have now won three straight after losing four in a row, including getting swept by Oklahoma State in a three-game series. Whatever funk ASU was in seems to have been dispelled, as its offense and defense has been playing a lot better as of late.
ASU has a strong chance to break the 30-win barrier on the season, as its next four games are played at home, including a three game series against Utah and one game against Abilene Christian. The Sun Devils play next at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Packard.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @HKossodo
Correction: Because of a reporting error, Tucker Esmay’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.