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Rodgers, DeMichele lead Sun Devils to win in Coca-Cola Classic

Joey DeMichele rounds first base in a game against UC Riverside on Feb. 26. DeMichele tied a career-high five RBI in Thursday’s victory over Saint Louis. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)
Joey DeMichele rounds first base in a game against UC Riverside on Feb. 26. DeMichele tied a career-high five RBI in Thursday’s victory over Saint Louis. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

SURPRISE — Brady Rodgers doesn’t like to waste time. Not in his quick windup, not in between pitches and certainly not in dealing with long at bats.

All the junior right-handed pitcher does is rock, fire and repeat. It’s a recipe for success the ASU baseball team is riding so far in the young season, especially Thursday.

In just two hours and five minutes, Rodgers threw a four-hit complete game to help the Sun Devils (6-1) cruise by Saint Louis 9–1 in the opening game of the Coca-Cola Classic at Surprise Stadium.

On the season, Rodgers (3-0, 0.00 ERA) has thrown 22 innings without allowing an earned run.

“They were being aggressive and swinging at everything, so that helped me out,” Rodgers said. “Every game I go out there I am relaxed, because with our offense, I could give up five runs and we’d be alright.”

Rodgers threw 115 pitches, walked two batters and hit two batters, but always settled down when in trouble.

“I didn’t have 100 percent control of my stuff,” he said. “It was just one of those days where I was putting pressure on myself, but I got out of the jams with my defense.”

The Sun Devils gave their ace run support early in the first inning when junior Joey DeMichele delivered an RBI single to the right side to score junior shortstop Deven Marrero, who hit a single in the at bat before.

Two frames later, ASU tacked on two more runs with an inside-the-park home run off the bat of freshman outfielder Trever Allen. The ball ricocheted off the left field wall and rolled nearly back to the infield before a Saint Louis player could track it down.

“He crushed that pitch,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said. “We faced that type of lefty pitcher they had before, and we didn’t do a good job. So his at bat let our guys relax and commit to our plan of attack.”

The Billikens (5-4) got on the board in the fifth after a throwing error by ASU sophomore left fielder Kasey Coffman allowed a run to score.

In the Sun Devils’ half of the inning, DeMichele came through again, this time with two outs on a two-RBI single to make the score 5-1.

ASU tacked on four additional runs in the sixth. Coffman and sophomore infielder Michael Benjamin each drove in a batter, while DeMichele singled again for another two-RBI hit. He finished the day tying his career-high with five RBI.

“He wasn’t trying to do too much, just taking really good swings all game,” Esmay said. “Those are the best at bats. He fouled some pitches off, then got aggressive.”

Because the Sun Devils never went to their bullpen, they’ll have all fresh arms the rest of the weekend when they meet Northern Illinois (0-7) on Friday, Winthrop (0-8) on Saturday and St. Mary’s (5-3) on Sunday.

“It sets us up nicely,” Esmay said. “We’re getting the best pitcher every day out here from our opponent, so it helps us with our depth.”


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