Back to back bullpen games for ASU baseball resulted in back to back shutout victories.
The Sun Devils threw redshirt freshman Seth Tomczak to start for the second-straight game and utilized six arms in a 10-0 shutout over Cal State Fullerton on Friday night. That is seven straight wins for the Sun Devils, who have not allowed a run in their last 20 innings pitched.
With a lack of starters available due to multiple injuries, head coach Tracy Smith had a reason to go with a bullpen game to open the series as opposed to starting redshirt sophomore Tyler Thornton, who started last Friday.
"The whole plan, we want to keep the bullpen intact," Smith said. "If you have to extend the bullpen on Friday, it gives (pitchers) the bounce-back day, and you can bring them all back on Sunday."
Not only are redshirt freshman Cooper Benson and redshirt junior Boyd Vander Kooi out for the year, but redshirt sophomore Erik Tolman is down for the time being — Smith said he would have an update early next week. That leaves just Thornton healthy from the opening series starting rotation.
But, Smith believes that he has enough useful pitchers in his arsenal, even if they are not "starters."
"We have enough pieces to throw together some really quality innings," Smith said. "It may now be from an extended standpoint with the guy who has the experience of some of the guys we lost. But, the pieces are still there."
Tomczak and redshirt sophomore Will Levine combined for five shutout innings to start the game, just as they had on Sunday against Utah.
CSF managed to get just three runners in scoring position all night, one after the third inning. ASU's staff also only walked two batters, something that was an issue last Friday.
Smith also had to manage the pen without pitching coach Jason Kelly at his side, who was sick. Smith said that he and Kelly talked on the phone before the game and "mapped out" Friday's plan.
Offensively, the Sun Devils scraped together three runs in the early innings as strong base running and at-bats opened up better chances. They scored on a fielder's choice, a wild pitch and an RBI single from redshirt junior left fielder Allbry Major.
In the sixth, redshirt freshman outfielder Joe Lampe manufactured a run with his speed.
After he drove in a run, Lampe stole second. Redshirt junior Drew Swift then nailed a fly ball to the corner in right field, which was caught. But Lampe broke for third and rounded the base. The throw home was late as he dove in safely. A sacrifice fly from second base.
"I'm preparing to not stop, especially when I see that right fielder drifting to the right-field corner," Lampe said. "Nine, 10 out of 10 times, I'm going to take that chance."
Major capped off the night with a moon shot home run to right in the seventh inning, which put the Sun Devils at double digit runs for the second time this season.
Game two of the series against the Titans begins March 13 at 2:05 p.m. MST at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
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