(Photo: Nicole Hernandez/WCSN)
No matter how early in the season it happens, a ninth-inning comeback can do wonders for a baseball team.
A ninth-inning comeback in a game for a team that made five errors in one game can convince a team to never give up, no matter the circumstances.
The second game of Arizona State baseball’s season-opening doubleheader against Northwestern was anything but ordinary, but in the end they came out on top of a 4-3, drama-filled, error-packed win.
After giving up three unearned runs through the first three innings thanks to two errors each from Andrew Snow and Jeremy McCuin, ASU put itself in a hole early. Despite having a completely re-worked infield with Snow manning third base, McCuin playing shortstop after primarily playing third last season, combined with newcomers Carter Aldrete and Taylor Lane and second and first respectively, head coach Tracy Smith doesn’t see any reason to worry about his defense.
“I just think once we settle in and just trust in the preparation and just let our abilities take over, I think we’ll be fine,” Smith said. “We don’t need the great play, we just need to make the routine [plays]. But I think once those guys get settled in, we’ll be fine.”
It was an uphill climb for Smith and Co. from the fourth inning on, with all hands on deck needed to pull out an Opening Day sweep.
Sophomore Fitz Stadler relieved Hingst to start the fifth and combined with junior transfer Jake Godfrey, who picked up the win, to hurl five scoreless innings with three total hits allowed. Smith was pleased to see the performance that Godfrey delivered, even more so after admitting that the former LSU Tiger had been dealing with control issues in the weeks leading up to the season.
“I thought he did a pretty good job tonight… if he’s in the strike zone he’s going to be pretty tough to beat, as you saw tonight.” Smith said. “He gets a ton of ground balls because of the movement, he did a really good job for us.”
With the bullpen able to hold Northwestern at bay and give the offense a chance to mount the comeback, the veterans of the lineup shone the brightest.
Snow put the first run on the board with a sacrifice fly scoring Gage Canning in the fifth, and Ryan Lillard singled home Snow in the seventh to make the score 3-2.
The comeback was completed in the bottom of the ninth, with Snow making up for his three-error night by singling home Canning to tie the game, and designated hitter Sebastian Zawada singling home pinch runner Garvin Alston, Jr. four batters later to give ASU a 4-3 win.
Zawada feels that a tough back-and-forth battle such as this game can work wonders for the team moving forward.
“I think this is great, as a team. As a young team, I’m a senior, but there’s a lot of young guys out there getting their first starts… and then on top of that, the media that covered us and all the rankings and everything, people just throwing us to the side, I think this is great,” Zawada said. “I think this really proved to everybody on our team tonight, if anybody had a doubt, we’re here and we’re going to win.”