Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Baseball opens season against Western Michigan

Brady Rodgers pitches in a game against Oral Roberts on Mar. 20, 2011. Rodgers will once again start in the Friday night slot and lead the Sun Devils’ pitching staff. (Photo by Scott Stuk)
Brady Rodgers pitches in a game against Oral Roberts on Mar. 20, 2011. Rodgers will once again start in the Friday night slot and lead the Sun Devils’ pitching staff. (Photo by Scott Stuk)

Conventional logic dictates the start of a season without the possibility of a national championship would lack excitement.

But at the onset of the ASU baseball team’s 2012 campaign, there’s no palpable difference in the excitement level at Packard Stadium.

The sunflower seeds are stocked, the field is pristine and the players are anxious. All that’s missing are fans in the seats and dirt on the uniforms.

All of that will come together Friday night when the No. 17 Sun Devils host Western Michigan to kick off the season with a three-game weekend set.

“It’s going to be fun to get out and see some bullets fly the other way,” junior pitcher Alex Blackford said. “It’s opening weekend. It’s exciting.  We’re tired of playing against each other, now it’s time to compete.”

On the mound for the Sun Devils’ opener will be junior pitcher Brady Rodgers. Last season, he took over the Friday night job and posted a 9-4 record with a 2.75 ERA. Now solidified as the ace of the staff, Rodgers’ comfort level affords him confidence on the mound with the pressure that comes with the territory.

“I’m not changing what I’m doing,” Rodgers said. “My goal when I’m out there is to throw strikes and trust my defense. When I do that, we have a good chance to win.”

Saturday will see a fresh face on the mound in freshman left-handed pitcher Adam McCreery. Coach Tim Esmay liked the idea of throwing a southpaw after Rodgers and getting some new players opportunities early.

“We want to develop roles and have them fit with a leftie starter in the lineup,” Esmay said. “We want to figure them out early in the season so we have that done by the time we get to the Pac-12.”

Taking over pitching duties Sunday will be another Sun Devil starting his first collegiate game. This time, it’s a player with plenty of experience last season coming out of the bullpen. Sophomore pitcher Trevor Williams recorded a 2.50 ERA in 39.2 innings as a reliever in 2011.

“We’ve prepared him and upped his pitch count,” Esmay said. “He knows not one guy is going to have to throw a complete game, he just has to get outs. Everybody who comes here wants to be a starter, but he’s never said a word. That’s what makes him special.”

With only three full-time position players returning from last season, the Sun Devils’ lineup will look relatively similar at the top, but completely different at the bottom. Juniors Andrew Aplin, Deven Marrero and Joey DeMichele will hold down the top third all weekend while the bottom two-thirds of the batting order will rotate players in and out over the three games.

“I’m committed to playing some guys this weekend,” Esmay said. “We have to give guys opportunities because we don’t have that huge veteran lineup. From a coaching standpoint, I’m going to see kids that are hungry and are driven because they know at any point they can play.”

Western Michigan will bring a team that finished last season 26-31 but returns the majority of its key players, including Friday night starter and staff ace senior Casey Webber, who turned in a 2.86 ERA in 2011.

“They will be a good test,” Esmay said. “I know the guys in the other dugout aren’t playing their first collegiate baseball game. They aren’t afraid. They are mature. You know they’ll come out and know what they’re doing and compete.”


Reach the reporter at


Click here to subscribe to the daily State Press newsletter.

Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.

Subscribe to Pressing Matters



This website uses cookies to make your experience better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.