Baseball ekes out narrow victory over Titans

With No. 13 Cal State Fullerton in town for a pair of midweek games, the No. 14 ASU baseball team was looking to build off the explosive offense it displayed during the Sun Devils’ 9–6 victory against California on Sunday.

Instead, ASU (16-8, 3-3 Pac-12) settled for a 1–0 win over the Titans (15-9) on Tuesday night, with the Sun Devils’ lone run coming courtesy of a sixth-inning RBI single from junior second baseman Joey DeMichele.

“At the end of the day, we did things to win 1–0, as opposed to letting the game get away from us,” coach Tim Esmay said.

Both teams managed a combined dozen hits on the night in what was a pitchers duel from the get-go. Redshirt sophomore Zak Miller threw four and a third solid innings for the Sun Devils, yielding seven hits, no walks and one strikeout.

“Zak Miller did exactly what we asked him to do, and that’s two outings in a row that he’s done that for us,” Esmay said. “(Those are) the type of innings that we need right now from our starters because we are starting to establish ourselves a little bit more on the back end in our bullpen.”

Freshman Koby Gauna also had an impressive start for the Titans, as the right-hander put up zeroes through the first five frames — including working out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

“That inning that we didn’t score with the bases loaded did not affect us,” Esmay said. “We came right back out and played defense, made pitches and we just hung in there and kept playing baseball.”

The Sun Devils finally got to Gauna in the sixth, as junior centerfielder Andrew Aplin led off the inning with a double, stole third and was eventually driven in by DeMichele on a one-out single to right.

ASU’s bullpen also came through big in the win, as junior Robert Ravago (two and two-thirds innings), senior Joseph Lopez (one inning) and junior Jake Barrett did not allow a Titan to reach base. Ravago was eventually credited with the victory.

“This win means more than beating them 10 to nothing,” Miller said. “It was more of a mental game for us, and everybody in the clubhouse is just ecstatic that we were able to come away with the win.”

The domination of the Sun Devils’ pitching staff on the night is a testament to how the ASU arms are maturing as the season progresses.

“Those guys are starting to settle in,” Esmay said. “Four weeks ago when we played Utah Valley, everybody was asking us, ‘What’s wrong with your pitching staff?’ It was just a bunch of guys trying to figure out who they are. Now we’re in a position where those guys are figuring out who they are, and it’s working out pretty good.”

The first pitch for game two of the series is Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Packard Stadium. Junior righty Billy Young will start for ASU and freshman righty J.D. Davis will be on the bump for the Titans.


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