Romero dominates as ASU baseball cruises past Oklahoma State

The Sun Devils offense scored three in the first and never looked back

ASU baseball played their most complete game of the season, easily defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys 9-1 on Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

“I think you could sense the energy level,” Smith said. “The guys like playing behind him. He’s an interesting and great guy in the clubhouse and those things are important too when guys believe in you when you tow the rubber and I thought that was pretty evident tonight.”

The Sun Devils (5-5) got back to .500 on the strength of a masterful pitching performance by junior pitcher Sam Romero. Romero allowed one run on five hits in six innings of work. He struck out seven, walked two and threw 56 of his 89 pitches for strikes.

“I felt like, as the game was going on, I was able to move wherever I want," Romero said. "I had more feel for my slider and then my changeup was just there the whole game."

Smith said he was confident he could get 80 or 90 pitches and six innings and Romero delivered.

“He’s one of the guys that’s fun to play behind because he always around the strike zone and, at any point, you know the ball is coming to you and he’s going to make big pitches for your team," freshman designated hitter Gage Workman said.

ASU’s offense jumped all over Oklahoma State sophomore right hander Jonathan Heasley for three runs in the first. 

Junior center fielder Gage Canning started the hit parade with a double. Freshman Drew Swift reached first on an infield single, then sophomore catcher Lyle Lin singled to right-center field to drive in Canning and it was 1-0 ASU. The Sun Devils added two more runs later on and sent eight men to the plate in the inning. 

The Sun Devils broke the game open in the third inning with another three-run frame. Workman broke the game open with a bases-clearing triple down the right field line to score two runs and give ASU a 5-0 lead. Workman scored on a sacrifice fly to center to make it 6-0.

“What I love about that kid is he’s a hard worker and he has made me pencil him in the lineup, and that’s a good thing," Smith said of Workman.

The Cowboys finally got to Romero in the fifth inning. Senior left fielder Jon Littell led off the frame with a triple to the right-center field gap. After the next batter struck out, freshman pinch hitter Jake Taylor doubled sharply to center, making the score 6-1 ASU. 

ASU tacked on a run in its half of the fifth inning and added two more in the sixth, giving it a 9-1 lead and putting the game firmly out of reach.

Breakout Performance

Freshman second baseman Alika Williams came into the night hitting only .158, but he collected three hits in three at-bats to raise his average to .273. He credited the performance to a change in his approach.

“Skip shortened me up and I’m just looking away and [I’m] just trying to pound the right side of the field,” Williams said. “That’s what I’ve changed and it’s working a little bit so I’m going to stick with it.”

Contributions Up and Down the Lineup

Canning, Lin and Torkelson were carrying the load for ASU offensively, but five guys had two hits or more against the Cowboys. 

Smith said it was nice to see a lot of guys contributing.

“I think Gage deserves a night off of getting multiple hits,” Smith said. “He’s been shouldering the offensive load, he and Lyle, for the first nine games."

Approach at the plate

After only scoring five runs over two games against Long Beach State this week, Workman said the team worked on their approach. 

“We’ve been working a lot on our approach and … the whole team is buying into what the coaches are saying and not doing our own thing,” Workman said. “[We’re] trying to have unselfish at-bats."

It translated to much better results tonight.

Up Next

ASU and Oklahoma State will face off in game two of the series at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Lefty Eli Lingos (1-0, 4.63 ERA) is projected to start for ASU. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepresssport on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.