(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
On a celebratory night that began with a ceremony to honor former Sun Devi Cory Hahn, Arizona State took care of business against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, winning 12-4.
Hahn, who was paralyzed during a game in 2011, was honored beforehand and the Diamondbacks announced a scholarship in his name. His legacy is now forever etched in Sun Devil lore on the right field fence, opposite of Pat Tillman.
“None of us can really relate to what he has gone through and how he has carried himself since,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “Not only has he continued on but thrived in life. For us to be a part of his legacy here forever was special.”
The celebration carried on into the game, as ASU won a game that they were supposed to win against a 4-6 Eagles team. Many Sun Devils, including Brian Serven, David Greer, Seth Martinez, and the big surprise of the night, Jeremy McCuin, had huge nights in the blowout.
The offense peaked right when they needed to, scoring two runs in the fifth inning and four in the sixth to open up a commanding lead. David Greer had four hits, including two doubles and three RBIs, while Brian Serven had his best game of the season. The junior collected five RBIs, three hits, including a three-run home run that was the nail in the coffin for the EMU. Serven also threw out two base runners that were trying to steal against him. He leads the Pac-12 with ten runners thrown out stealing and has continued to establish himself further as an offensive and defensive weapon.
A bit of a shocker occurred before the game when news broke that infielder/pitcher Jordan Aboites and pitcher Grant Schneider were both suspended due to a violation of team standards. Smith mentioned that both are out indefinitely.
McCuin was called upon to start for Aboites and filled in sufficiently. The freshman, who was making his first career start, began the game strong by making a diving stop on the opening play and performed well at the plate as well, hitting an RBI double and a sacrifice fly.
“I’m not going to lie, I got nervous right when we went into the tunnel,” McCuin said. “I think my adrenaline kicked in once I got out there and shook my teammates hands. I have been waiting for this moment all of my life.”
Colby Woodmansee and Andrew Shaps also delivered at the plate. Woodmansee doubled and drove in two runs, while Shaps drove two doubles to the wall. The strong offensive performance across the board is a welcomed sight for an ASU team that struggled offensively against Long Beach State.
They also provided a cushion for Seth Martinez, who had one of the more interesting outings of his career. He surrendered eight hits but just one run in the first three innings, and then settled down allowing only one more hit but no base runners for his last three innings. He also struck out seven hitters and did not walk anyone.
“The first couple innings I was up in the zone,” Martinez said. “My slider was flat and I think it was just a mechanical issue, so once I figured that out I was down in the zone again and my slider had some bite to it, so that’s how I started turning it around.”
His head coach was pleased with his outing, but left disappointed that he had to use five relief pitchers in the final three innings to close it out. EMU even got to a point where they brought the tying run to the plate.
“The one thing we clearly have to get straightened out is that we shouldn’t need five guys after the sixth inning to close out a game,” Smith said. “Some of it is the some guys with the lack of a second pitch, and we were never in a position to say let him go, because the matchups forced our hand to bring new guys in. It was good that Seth gave us six, but bad that we had to use five guys to close out a game with a relatively big lead.”
The relief corps eventually collected themselves when Eder Erives got out of a jam and Chris Isbell finished off the Eagles in the ninth inning.
All things considered, the win was probably the most impressive all-around game of the Sun Devils young season. Strong starting pitching and good performances from the heart of their order created a winning formula that ASU will need to replicate in the future.
Smith revealed yesterday at practice that Reagan Todd would be moving up to the Saturday starter spot, at least for the weekend, so he will try to give ASU their second series win of the year. First pitch will be at 6:30.
You can contact the author on Twitter @JanowerJacob.