Facing the possibility of yet another exit in regionals of the NCAA Tournament, Arizona State delayed the chance, at least for the time being, with a 4-1 win over Oral Roberts that featured a complete game from Jordan Aboites. The Golden Eagles are now the first team in the Fort Worth regional to be eliminated from the tournament.
After a letdown Friday from ace Seth Martinez, the starting pitching got back on track. Jordan Aboites turned in what was likely his best performance ever as a Sun Devil. The senior, who has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen all season long, got the call to start after Eli Lingos made himself unavailable by throwing six and 1/3 innings against Gonzaga yesterday.
The offense set the tone early, scoring in the first inning without getting a hit. Gage Canning led off with a walk and ended up making his way to third on a stolen base and wild pitch before Brian Serven drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
ASU added to their lead in the fourth inning when Andrew Snow delivered the first two-out hit of the regional for ASU, an RBI single. Serven followed with the big blow the next inning, a two-run home run, his fourth of the season.
ORU scored their first run in the sixth and threatened in the eighth inning by loading the bases and putting the tying run on first base, but Aboites got a strikeout and groundout to keep the score as is. The Eagles also brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but a strikeout ended the game.
The Sun Devils pitching picture looks a bit brighter after Aboites complete game. It meant that they didn’t have to pitch Eder Erives, who will likely see time in the next game.
Player of the Game: Jordan Aboites
It wasn’t much of a contest for who the star of the game was. ASU needed Aboites to be magnificent and that is exactly what he was. He got in some jams and gave up 11 hits but got outs when he needed them. The right-hander finished with seven strikeouts and delivered the gritty outing and that was just what the doctor ordered. It was his first time completing the eighth inning and set a new career high in pitches thrown at 117.
Unsung Hero: Brian Serven
The catcher, who has had an up-and-down season, drove in three of the four Sun Devil runs. His home run and sacrifice fly gave Aboites early run support that he was able to carry with him throughout the game.
Stat of the Game: 6-for-14
The top four hitters in the ASU order collected six hits in 14 at-bats, setting the tone for the rest of the lineup. Serven and David Greer each had two hits, while Canning and Andrew Shaps both had one. In addition, three of the six hits were for extra bases. The top four hitters also scored all four runs in the game.
Biggest Concern: Pitching Staff
While Aboites’ outing helped out the pitching for now, lots of questions still remain, including who will come out of the bullpen if ASU is in a close battle in their next game. Outside of Erives, nobody has been constantly reliable out of the ‘pen, making it a difficult decision if Erives has to exit his start. However, we have seen Tracy Smith get very creative with his pitching staff, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him do that again. Ryan Hingst, who has only thrown six innings since his no-hitter on March 25th, is on the trip and could be available this weekend.
What’s Next?: It’s another elimination game for ASU, as they face the loser of the TCU-Gonzaga game at noon Arizona time. The Sun Devils will have to win that game and then take two straight against the winner to advance to the super regionals.