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ASU baseball splits weekend series against underestimated Ohio State

The Sun Devils are now 5-3 after their season-opening eight-game homestand, leaving lots of questions to be asked of the teams pitching staff


ASU senior infielder Steven Ondina (8) batting against Santa Clara at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday, Feb.16, 2024. ASU won 11-6.

ASU baseball wrapped up their season-opening eight-game homestand on Sunday after splitting a four-game set with Ohio State University. Amid a plethora of pitching struggles, ASU managed to power their way to a 5-3 record by averaging nearly 10 runs scored a game despite underestimating the Buckeyes coming in this weekend.

"I'll start with Ohio State, they are a much better team than I was anticipating coming in," head coach Willie Bloomquist said. "I knew they were gonna be good, but they had better arms than I thought, they had better players than I was expecting and they were scrappy. They really challenged us up and down the lineup."

Game 1:

The Sun Devils opened up the series against Ohio State with an 11-4 loss as the offense faltered against Buckeye's arms.

Getting the series start on Thursday night, UCLA transfer and sophomore left-hand pitcher Ben Jacobs led ASU on the pitcher's mound for the first time in a Sun Devils uniform. His final line after 4.2 innings were eight strikeouts, four hits, one walk, and three earned runs.

ASU scored only four runs in eight innings, led by a three-RBI night for junior catcher Ryan Campos with a base hit and a three-run homer, his third of the year. 

Even with the fantastic performance by veteran Campos, one player can't win the game all by himself. 

"The biggest thing is a lack of focus," junior infielder Jacob Tobias said. "I'd say going in there and not taking the team as seriously as we should have. It doesn’t matter if they’re Big 10. Any school, any conference, whether it’s the smallest school in the nation or the biggest one in the nation. You got to take them as they’re one of the best teams that we’re going to play all year and the biggest show. We went in there and underestimated them and didn’t execute."

As for the Sun Devils' arms, they recorded 13 strikeouts even after allowing eight more runs across the diamond after the four in the first half of the game.

Game 2:

Following the ignominious loss on Thursday, ASU baseball bounced back powerfully, recording 17 hits in a 14-4 blowout of Ohio State.

Freshman pitcher Thomas Burns dazzled in his second collegiate start, striking out eight through 4.1 innings of work.

Burns has allowed just three runs in 9.1 innings to open his collegiate career. Though he's struck out 15 batters compared to walking a pair, all three runs came off solo home runs.

​​"Thomas is going to give up a run or two here and there. It's going to happen. He's not invincible," Bloomquist said. "The great thing about him is when he does give up runs, he doesn't seem to be rattled. He goes right back to work and continues his game plan."

Junior Matt Cornelius relieved Burns, striking out five in 2.1 innings. The pitcher has yet to allow a run in two appearances this season. His development serves as a rubric for others in the bullpen who struggle to get batters out.

"The moment hasn't been too big for him," Bloomquist said. "He just goes and competes. That's what I ask of our pitchers: don't try to come up with something you don't have. Be good at what you do have, and you're going to be fine."

Sophomore outfielder Isaiah Jackson has hit four home runs in the first eight games of the season, accounting for 14 RBIs - the most on the team. Redshirt senior outfielder Harris Williams and redshirt freshman designated hitter Brandon Compton combined for seven hits and five RBIs between the two. 

The Sun Devils took the lead after a four-run second inning and never looked back, proving that the team’s bats remain some of the best in the Pac-12.

Game 3:

Heading into game three tied for the series, the Sun Devils faced longball struggles and dropped the third game 13-4, going down 2-1 to the Buckeyes. 

Senior left-hand pitcher Connor Markl started on the mound in his second start of the season. Markl gave up six hits and two runs while tallying seven strikeouts before getting pulled in the sixth. 

This is the first of what would later be five total pitching changes for ASU as they continue to handle pitching conflicts. 

"This is something we got to figure out," Bloomquist said. "We're going to have to evaluate our arms that can get it done, and one thing we’re finding out is we can't. If our starters can continue to give us five innings or more, we’ll continue to see who can give us those back innings and close out games."

Campos extended his active base-reaching streak to 17 games in a row, counting back to last season with a walk. Ohio State allowed two more walks that loaded the bases, giving Campos a free ride home to score 2-1 for ASU. 

The Sun Devil bats picked up in the fourth inning after a solo shot from the Buckeyes to tie the game at 2-2. The tie quickly broke with a solo shot in return from senior infielder Steven Ondina to give ASU the lead right back 3-2. 

ASU extended the lead to 4-2 in the sixth after a double by Compton, who was brought in off another hit by Karstetter. 

However, the Sun Devils hit a batters block after scoring four runs and gave Ohio State the spotlight for the bottom half of the game, scoring 11 more runs.

While ASU may be one of the top-hitting teams in the country, ranking second in the nation with 104 hits, they still find problems in clutch situations with runners in scoring positions and two outs on the board. 

"We had plenty of opportunities," Bloomquist said. "Lot of things didn’t fall out. We had some opportunities with good hitters, and we didn’t cash. We get spoiled getting used to those things happening, but today it didn’t."

Game 4:

The Sunday matinee concluded after the top of the eighth with ASU on top due to the Buckeye's travel schedule.

Down 8-6 in the bottom of the sixth, Compton blasted a go-ahead grand slam to give ASU a 10-8 lead that it wouldn't relinquish over the final two innings. Compton is 12-for-25 to open the season and has driven in 13 runs.

"It was a dogfight every game against them," head coach Willie Bloomquist said. "They'll win a lot of games. From our standpoint, we battled. We haven't played our best baseball, we haven't pitched it as well as we can yet, and we're going to have to get better there."

Pitching remained a struggle for the Sun Devils, as redshirt sophomore Tyler Meyer and freshman Adam Behrens allowed eight runs on 11 hits in 6.1 innings. 

The Sun Devils now head to Arlington, Texas, for the Globe Life Tournament, where they’ll take on TCU, Texas-Arlington and Texas A&M in a four-game tournament before returning home to play a three-game series against Oregon.

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.

 Reach the reporters at and and follow @laurentahuka and @ASchmidtSports on X.

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Aaron SchmidtSports Reporter

Aaron Schmidt is a sports reporter who covers ASU Baseball and ASU Women’s Golf for The State Press. He previously covered Higley High School football for AZPreps365.

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