ASU baseball bats explode in 7-0 rout of rival UA
It's no coincidence that ASU baseball scored seven runs in Tucson Saturday night en route to a 7-0 road series win over rival UA, clinching a Territorial Cup Series point.
Averaging seven runs per win on the season heading into the fourth matchup between these two teams this year, the Sun Devils regained their stride after a brief slump, and the UA pitchers ultimately had no answers for the ASU lineup from top to bottom.
ASU fans were treated to a vintage outing from sophomore left-hander Ryan Kellogg (6-2, 2.80 ERA) who added insult to injury for the Wildcats, (17-25, 6-14 Pac-12) throwing a complete game shutout and registering eight strikeouts.
Sophomore left fielder Chris Beall had the benefit of playing behind Kellogg on a night when he scattered a mere seven hits through nine innings pitched. "He didn't give them any room," Beall said. "Defensively, we turned some big double plays, and we were rolling. It was fun to watch."
The gem from Kellogg saw him reach a mark of 6.07 K/9, following sophomore Brett Lilek's impressive seven-inning start Friday night. Between the third and fifth innings, Kellogg traded scoreless innings with UA redshirt sophomore righty Cody Hamlin, (5-3, 3.49 ERA) retiring a combined 14 hitters in a row. Soon, ASU (23-16, 12-8 Pac-12) would put an abrupt end to a compelling pitcher's duel — and eventually Hamlin's night — after junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz cracked a two-out RBI double into the right center to put the Sun Devils ahead and on the board first.
Later in that inning, which elapsed more than a half hour, sophomore designated hitter RJ Ybarra smashed a double to left center, plating two more runs, as ASU went ahead 4-0.
Redshirt junior second baseman Tucker Esmay started an ASU rally in the sixth, chipping in an RBI single, and junior right fielder Jake Peevyhouse would score his second run of the game (unearned) on an overthrow.
The capper for the Sun Devils was a sacrifice fly from Ybarra, bringing in Esmay for the seventh and final run.
Ybarra's three runs driven in Saturday bumped up his total to a team-leading 35 RBIs on the season.
Beall put on a hitting clinic at Hi Corbett Field, going 4-for-5. Among his four hits, he posted a double and two runs scored.
Beall said that ASU's regression from the offensive fireworks it was producing prior to a midseason road bump was a result of overthinking and swinging for the fences.
"It's all about staying in the moment, (tonight) we weren't trying to do too much," Beall said. "You can have a day where you find a hole, you just have to trust yourself."
With that outing, Beall's average was boosted to .354, an impressive statistic hitting out of the eighth spot in the order, illustrating the hardships of a UA staff that was simply overmatched, no matter who they tried to pitch around.
Beall is one of four Sun Devils hitting .300 or better, with sophomore third baseman Dalton DiNatale just shy of the mark, batting .296 on the season.
The win gave ASU a 9.5-6.5 edge in the Territorial Cup Series.
"Our athletic department told us it was all on us this year," Beall said. "It feels good to win the series. If we win tomorrow, we can keep rolling, and sets up to do some damage in the Pac-12, and that's what we plan on doing."
Game three is set for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch Sunday, and will be televised on ESPNU.
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