(Photo: Nicole Hernandez/WCSN)
Arizona State (5-3) took down New Mexico State (6-4) 12-5 after overcoming a rocky start by Zach Dixon.
Dixon lasted just 1 and 2/3 innings, walking five Aggies and allowing one run. After Dixon’s second consecutive start in which he couldn’t pitch past the third inning, there will be serious consideration for replacing him as the weekday starter.
“We talk in our program and you get what you deserve,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “He’s struggled throwing strikes. Way too many free passes and it continued today. That stuff has to turn around.”
Fitz Stadler came in for relief in the second inning inheriting a bases loaded jam and he got New Mexico State’s Austin Botello to groundout to shortstop Carter Aldrete. Stadler continued to last 3 and 2/3 innings, only allowing one hit and one walk while giving up two earned runs.
Stadler was a steady presence in a game that appeared like it could get out of control for the Sun Devils early on.
“I’m not glad the circumstances that it happened with Zach struggling as badly as he did, but I’m glad we got Fitz in there and he got to extend himself a little bit because that was a good sign from him,” Smith said.
With Stadler pitching through some solid innings, it gave the ASU batters a chance to get something going at the plate.
Stadler earned the win, his first of the season, and Steven Butts of New Mexico State recorded the loss.
After the win, Stadler has now pitched well in each of his three appearances this season and may have earned himself the next opportunity to be the mid-week starter.
“The confidence has been there for me,” Stadler said. “Establishing the fastball, just let the hitters hit it and let my defense play behind me so I can get outs quickly.”
Smith agreed with that sentiment as he said that he knows how it feels to be a position player growing anxious when you’re out on the field for too long and how much of a momentum boost it can be to have a pitcher get quick outs.
After Stadler came in and was quickly getting out Aggies’ batters, in the fourth inning, after Taylor Lane struck out in a one-out first and third situation, Zach Cerbo had a crucial at-bat for the Sun Devils, a two-run single that gave them the lead.
“I thought [Zach] Cerbo probably had the biggest hit of tonight, which got us going after the strikeout. He got the big two-out hit and got us going,” Smith said.
Cerbo’s approach was to stay simple on the at-bat in the fourth inning.
“I was looking for a fastball first pitch, something I could hit back up the middle,” Cerbo said. “I didn’t get a great piece on it but it found a hole and worked out.”
After the RBI by Cerbo, the floodgates opened up as the Sun Devils put three more runs on the board in the fourth, two in the fifth, three in the sixth to give them a six-run lead and some serious breathing room.
The ASU upperclassmen had a field day behind the plate as Andrew Snow went 4-for-4 with three RBI’s and a double, Ryan Lillard went 2-for-3 with two RBI’s and Cerbo went 3-for-4 with two RBI’s.
ASU totaled 15 hits in 38 at-bats and put up 12 runs on the board on Tuesday night.
The Sun Devils will look to use this win to grab some momentum as Loyola Marymount University comes to Tempe this weekend for a three-game series. Eli Lingos will take the hill for ASU to open up the set on Friday with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 pm MST.