(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Of all the different position combinations Coach Tim Esmay has employed with this Arizona State Sun Devils baseball team, the one Wednesday night was the most unique.
Jordan Aboites, the every day shortstop for ASU while Drew Stankiewicz is sidelined with an ailing wrist, threw 2.1 innings in relief, as Arizona State (8-6) earned an 8-5 win over New Mexico (9-7-1).
Aboites entered the game, entrusted with a 5-5 tie in the fourth inning, and proceeded to fan two of the first three batters he faced thanks to a commanding fastball and wicked slider.
A three-run fourth inning for the Sun Devils, highlighted by Nate Causey’s two-RBI double and RJ Ybarra’s run scoring single, gave Aboites his first win as a collegiate pitcher.
The outing of Aboites should come as no surprise to Sun Devil fans. In high school, Aboites posted a 20-4 record with 170.2 innings pitched, 161 strikeouts and a .96 ERA, adding another arm to the crop of talent that the Sun Devils have at their disposal.
Three weeks ago, the Sun Devils suffered a 7-1 loss to New Mexico. The team was lackadaisical at the plate and was not prepared for their fourth game in five days. Such a performance did not resonate well with Coach Tim Esmay nor the ASU offense. The Sun Devils bats on Wednesday silenced any doubts surrounding their preparedness, as the offense got off to a quick start.
With two outs in the first, RJ Ybarra hit a ground-rule double putting himself and Brian Serven in scoring position. Dalton Dinatale then added to his team-leading 13 RBIs with a two-RBI double. David Graybill, who started in place of Trever Allen in right field, then singled home Dinatale to give the Sun Devils a 3-1 lead.
Arizona State manufactured two more runs in the second inning. Colby Woodmansee led the inning off with a double and scored on a groundout from Serven. Causey pushed the Sun Devils lead to 5-1, as his single plated second baseman David Greer.
After only making two relief appearances this season, Zak Miller got the nod on the mound for the Sun Devils. Miller started seven games last year as the midweek pitcher, and was eventually moved to the Sunday starter due to his success.
However, the Lobos hitters roughed him up in the third inning. RBI singles from Chase Harris and Rya Padilla and an RBI double from Alex Real tied the game at five runs apiece, and ended Miller’s outing at 2.2 innings.
Yet the Sun Devils offense would not be silenced, as they belted three hits for three runs off Lobos relief pitcher Kevin Baumgartner in the decisive fourth inning.
Eric Melbostad, Eder Erives and Hever Bueno each threw one scoreless inning, and Ryan Burr struck out the side in the ninth for his second save in as many opportunities.
The Sun Devils will begin Pac-12 play on Friday, as they host a three game set with the streaking Washington Huskies (10-4-1) who have won seven straight games.
You can reach Jacob Garcia on Twitter @jake3garcia or via email at Jacob.M.Garcia@asu.edu