(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
In the opening game of the Territorial Cup weekend series against the Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State right hander Seth Martinez pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and two runs while striking out six, leading ASU to a 5-2 victory.
In what was billed as a great pitching matchup coming in between Martinez and Wildcat senior Nathan Bannister, the Sun Devils jumped out to a commanding 5-0 lead before Martinez even took the mound for his first inning of work.
RBI singles from Colby Woodmansee and Andrew Shaps staked ASU to a 2-0 lead, but a two-out throwing error by Bobby Dalbec off the bat of Andrew Snow allowed Woodmansee to score. Left fielder Ryan Lillard followed with a two-run single against Bannister that brought home Snow and Shaps.
After the top of the first, the game turned into the pitcher’s duel most expected, as Martinez didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, and Bannister allowed only one hit after the first inning. He settled down and lasted 8 1/3 innings for the Wildcats.
The score remained 5-0 Sun Devils until the seventh, when Bobby Dalbec’s triple and a passed ball on ASU catcher Brian Serven got the Wildcats on the board. The lead was cut to three the next inning when Cody Ramer tripled down the right field line and scored when the relay throw from second baseman Jordan Aboites skipped into the Sun Devils’ dugout.
That would be as close as the Wildcats would get though, as Eder Erives worked his way through the final five outs to earn his seventh save of the season.
Player of the Game: Seth Martinez. Realistically, Martinez can be the player of the game every time he takes the mound for ASU. He ran into some trouble in the seventh inning with his control, walking two batters after Dalbec scored, but he settled down and was able to limit the damage, and gave Erives a comfortable cushion for the final five outs.
Unsung Hero: Andrew Shaps. The sophomore went 2-for-4 on the night with an RBI, raising his average to .310. Shaps has not been able to play to his full potential this season, as a forearm injury has prevented him from being a weapon out of the bullpen. Nevertheless, he has played a superb center field both offensively and defensively. Along with David Greer and Woodmansee, Shaps is the third Sun Devil batting above .300 at this point in the season, and his production has been crucial as ASU continues its comeback charge in the Pac-12.
You Knew It Was Over When: ASU did all of its scoring in the first inning. Obviously a game is never over after just one inning, but with Martinez on the mound a five-run deficit is very tricky to overcome. Martinez and Erives gave Smith everything he could’ve asked for to open up the series.
Biggest Concern for ASU: The middle of their lineup. Sebastian Zawada and Serven went 0-for-8 combined in Friday’s game. While the Sun Devils have very capable hitters throughout the entire batting order, those two in particular will need to live up to their offensive potential if ASU wants to complete the seemingly impossible task of running down Utah or Washington for a potential Pac-12 crown.
What’s Up Next? The middle game of the Territorial Cup series from Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bobby Kraus is a baseball beat writer for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network, you can follow him on Twitter @bobbykraus22