(Photo: Blake Benard/Blaze Radio ASU)
Getting a win in your first start of the year: Impressive. Snapping your team’s five-game losing streak: Important. Throwing a no-hitter: Spectacular.
Arizona State baseball got a much needed boost on Friday night when sophomore Ryan Hingst hurled nine dominant innings en route to the 10th no-hitter (one of which was a perfect game) in school history. Striking out nine, walking three, and retiring the last 11 batters he faced, Hingst was all the Sun Devils needed to get their first win in almost two weeks and their first in conference play this season.
This was the first no-hitter for the school since Ryan Kellogg no-hit the Oregon State Beavers on March 23, 2013 in Corvallis.
After the game, Hingst said that the emotions of what he just accomplished had yet to sink in.
“I’m on cloud nine right now. I don’t even know how to put it into words. It’ll probably hit me later on tonight when I’m about to go to bed,” Hingst said.
Despite this being his first start of the season and just the fifth of his ASU career, Hingst said he wanted to keep the same mental approach going into this crucial game.
“I had done a couple starts last year so I had some experience doing it, and you really try to not change too much with your mindset,” Hingst said. “It’s the same as coming out of the pen, you just want to get hitters out.”
With his team in a stretch of averaging just a smidge over two runs per game during their five-game losing streak, starting with the Pac-12 opener last Friday against Oregon State, ASU seemed to start to break out of their slump tonight amassing five runs on 13 hits.
With only a two-run margin after six innings of work, Hingst’s offense gave him some much-needed and deserved breathing room when they tacked on three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a Ryan Lillard RBI single, a David Greer bases-loaded walk, and a Colby Woodmansee fielder’s choice, the Utes were all but done on this night. Hingst retired the final nine hitters he faced after that offensive outburst.
The right-hander out of El Paso, Texas, said that the mini offensive outburst helped him relax a lot more for the final innings.
“That takes a whole load off. It kind of lets you be more aggressive with your pitches, you don’t have to be so perfect knowing that you have that little cushion,” Hingst said. “If they get a hit here, it doesn’t really matter. It just really gives you that confidence to just pound the zone.”
In keeping with baseball superstitions, Hingst said he started noticing he had something special going when he started feeling lonely in the dugout.
“It was kind of in the back of my mind and then in the sixth inning I noticed (everyone) was just ignoring me,” Hingst said. “(Brandon Higelin) our pitching coach is usually right next to me between innings and I noticed he wasn’t even next to me those last three innings. That kind of made me look at the scoreboard and that’s when it really kind of hit me.”
In his first start of the season, having only thrown 16.1 innings through the first six weeks of the season and entering the ninth inning with 110 pitches, head coach Tracy Smith said that Hingst’s pitch count wasn’t all that concerning to him.
“He still was throwing 92 in the last inning so I think he still had plenty left in the tank,” Smith said. “Very effective. And the good part was he was locating his fastball. He pretty much did that tonight with one pitch.”
With the rubber game of the series set for Saturday at 12:30 PM, Hingst knows that the team’s focus needs to be resharpened for a new day and a new game quickly.
“Hopefully we can just carry that momentum through, come out tomorrow with the same intensity and just get that first series win under our belt, and just keep going from there,” Hingst said.
Saturday’s series finale will feature Hever Bueno making his first start since suffering a forearm injury on Opening Night, opposed by Utah sophomore Josh Lapiana.
You can reach the author on Twitter @bobbykraus22