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Blair shuts down Oregon as ASU survives 1-0

CAN'T TOUCH THIS: ASU junior Seth Blair pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed just five hits in the Sun Devils' 1-0 win over Oregon Thursday night in Eugene. The victory extended ASU's school-record winning streak to start the season to 24-0. (Photo by Scott Stuk)
CAN'T TOUCH THIS: ASU junior Seth Blair pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed just five hits in the Sun Devils' 1-0 win over Oregon Thursday night in Eugene. The victory extended ASU's school-record winning streak to start the season to 24-0. (Photo by Scott Stuk)

One of the oldest clichés in sports is that during epic duels, it’s a shame somebody has to lose.

Thursday night in Eugene, Ore., that statement was not cliché at all in regards to the pitchers.

Junior Seth Blair pitched seven shutout innings and sophomore shortstop Drew Maggi hit his first career home run to supply the only scoring of the game, as ASU defeated Oregon 1-0.

The No. 1 Sun Devils (24-0, 4-0 Pac-10), in their first-ever trip to Eugene, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Maggi’s deep shot to left-center, but proceeded to have only two men reach base from the fourth inning on.

UO sophomore left-hander Tyler Anderson pitched a masterpiece, throwing all nine innings, allowing four hits, walking none and striking out 10. He made only one mistake all night, leaving a fastball over the plate to Maggi, but that one mistake was all Blair and a pair of relievers needed.

In his seven shutout innings, Blair (6-0) allowed five hits, walked none,and struck out five while allowing only three baserunners past first base.

“How about Seth Blair — wow!” ASU coach Tim Esmay said during his postgame radio interview. “What a pitching performance for him tonight. [That] sets the tone for the weekend because, obviously, from an offensive standpoint, it was a struggle, and for him the way he pitched allowed us to stay in the ballgame.”

Sophomore Mitchell Lambson pitched a scoreless eighth for ASU, and then sophomore Jordan Swagerty held on for his eighth save of the season after allowing the tying run to reach second base to finish off the Ducks (18-9, 1-3 Pac-10) and keep ASU perfect.

Anderson confounded the Sun Devil hitters all night, showcasing impressive control and velocity. He struck out six different ASU hitters, including Maggi and sophomore centerfielder Johnny Ruettiger three times apiece.

“[Anderson] pitched against us and was effective against us last year, and I thought he was much better, obviously, this time around,” Esmay said. “We hit some balls hard and hit some balls at some people.”

But Blair kept ASU’s slim lead safe. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed a Duck to reach base in six of his seven innings and also hit three batters, but he made quality pitches when it counted, inducing 11 ground balls and letting his defense go to work.

“His effectiveness was that he commanded both sides of the plate, so when you do that it makes it tough for offenses,” Esmay said. “You can’t hang out over the middle of the plate. You’ve got to respect the ball in, and I thought he was very effective at changing eye levels and also changing in[side] and out[side].

The game began controversially, as in the first at-bat of the game, Maggi was hit by a pitch on his arm, but umpire Chuck Lyon ruled the ball had been foul-tipped and ordered Maggi back to the batter’s box. The normally stoic Maggi pointed at his arm and Esmay came out to argue, but it was to no avail.

Maggi eventually struck out in that at-bat but used his frustration over the missed call to power his no-doubt blast over the left-center field wall at PK Park in his next at-bat.

“I thought [the missed call] was the moment of the game, because that really ticked off ol’ Mag,” Esmay said. “He’s a competitor and he had a great at-bat.”

Maggi, senior Kole Calhoun and sophomores Riccio Torrez and Zach Wilson were the only players to record hits, each recording one.

UO freshman third baseman J.J. Altobelli was the only player to record multiple hits in the game, going 2-for-3 with two singles.

Reach the reporter at kaglaser@asu.edu


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