The Arizona Diamondbacks may have advanced to the World Series thanks to their pitching, but they couldn’t have done it without the Sun Devils.
Connections to ASU can be seen all around the franchise. In the front office, D-Backs President and CEO Derrick Hall is a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication graduate. Like a true Sun Devil, Hall innovated the Diamondbacks from a 110 loss season to the World Series in just two years.
D-Backs outfielder Corbin Carroll, online student studying business, can also call himself a Sun Devil. Carroll never played for ASU and was drafted out of high school by the D-Backs. However, he is a longshot recruiting target for ASU head coach Willie Bloomquist.
"Carroll is not an alum here from a playing standpoint, but he's part of ASU, so why not claim him," Bloomquist said. "I was checking on his eligibility the other day and seeing if there's some loopholes."
Leading Arizona’s pitching staff is former Sun Devil Merrill Kelly. Before taking the hill in the Fall Classic, he gained championship-level experience pitching for ASU in the 2010 College World Series. To this day, Kelly maintains his Tempe ties by talking to Bloomquist’s pitchers and returning to Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Yet, before Kelly took the mound, Bloomquist was the first Sun Devil to become a Diamondback in 2011. That same year, he hit .318 and stole three bases in the NLDS, a pivotal moment in his 14-year career after difficult regular seasons.
"When you get to pro ball, unfortunately, a lot of times it's a 162-game grind, where you go through peaks and valleys," Bloomquist said. "But when it comes October, and you're in playoff baseball, there is one goal with everybody in that clubhouse. That's what makes it special."
Most of Bloomquist’s players are rooting for their coach’s former team in the Fall Classic. However, ASU’s Texans, like freshman pitcher Bennett Fryman, are sticking with their Lone Star State roots.
"We got a lot of Texas guys, a lot of the freshmen," redshirt freshman pitcher Brandon Compton said. "I know Bennet is a big Texas guy. So we got some guys rooting for them, but the majority are for the D-Backs."
Even native Arizonan and sophomore outfielder Isaiah Jackson, who isn’t a D-Backs fan, is excited for the World Series to return to his home state.
"It is sick that there’s a World Series in the Valley because that hasn’t happened since before I was born," Jackson said.
In the postseason, Bloomquist took players to an NLCS game against the Philadelphia Phillies. With hopes of attending the World Series, Bloomquist wants to take his players because former ASU coach Pat Murphy took him to the 2001 World Series.
"I told them the same thing that he told me, 'You’re gonna be here one day, you're gonna be playing here one day,'" Bloomquist said. "Their eyes got probably as big as mine did, like, 'Yeah, really?' Well, yeah, you're going to be here one day."
Edited by Alfrred Smith III, Walker Smith and Grace Copperthite.