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ASU baseball’s new mentality ignites home sweep of California

The Sun Devils scored a combined 33 runs throughout the series sweep

ASU senior pitcher Connor Markl (52) winds up to pitch against Cal at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday, March 30, 2024. ASU won 9-6.

It’s hard to have fun when you lose eight of your last 12 games — not only for ASU baseball, but for the Sun Devil faithful who’ve been along for the ride all season. 

But entering a homestand where the team was set to face UNLV, Cal and Grand Canyon, the Sun Devils knew they had to adopt a fresh mindset as they entered a difficult stretch of the season. That mindset ignited a three-game sweep over Cal this past weekend.

This "fresh" mindset was simple: to just have fun.

"I just think as a whole, our mentality has shifted a lot,” redshirt junior pitcher Jonah Giblin said. “And last weekend was a huge eye-opener for us. Just to get back on track. And like Kien (Vu) said, go have fun, go play loose. And I think that's the huge change that we've made, week to week even.”

ASU has now won four games in a row and is back to .500 (14-14) on the season. Entering the three-game set with the Golden Bears, the Sun Devils were coming off a four-game losing streak where they scored just a combined 20 runs.

During their current four-game win streak, the Sun Devils have scored 43 runs. The team looks the way it did during its opening weekend series against Santa Clara, where it scored 38 runs across three games.

“Everyone looks a lot more confident,” senior pitcher Connor Markl said. “When you have confidence on your side, baseball is fun. You can do anything you put your mind to, and I'm seeing a lot of confidence from the hitters and from the pitchers. We're not letting small things get to us. 

“And when we do the small things right, it makes it a pretty fun ride.”

Three Sun Devils — redshirt sophomore infielder Nick McLain, junior catcher Ryan Campos and senior infielder Mario Demera — drove in six or more runs throughout the series. 

However, pitching remained an issue, as the three starting pitchers — junior Matt Cornelius, sophomore Ben Jacobs and Markl — allowed a combined eight runs across nine innings of work.

There’s plenty of season left, and the Sun Devils are confident they will turn things around quickly. The Sun Devils aim to wrap up their homestand in style, as they face Grand Canyon on Tuesday. Following this matchup, they will venture to Corvallis, Oregon, for a three-game series against the No. 2 Oregon State Beavers.

“Are there things we can clean up? Heck yeah,” head coach Willie Bloomquist said. “Things you'd like to see better executed on the offensive side and the pitching side, absolutely. But I'm never going to complain about a win against a good team. We're not going to have an easy coast to the finish line around here. … We know that we can't let off the gas and (have to) score as many runs as we can and try to finish it out."

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Sadie Buggle and Shane Brennan

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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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