After taking a 1-0 series lead Friday night, the 21st-ranked Sun Devils (18-8-1, 5-5 Pac-12) emerged as the victors in the second game of the series against the No. 11 Oregon Ducks (22-7, 8-2), winning Saturday’s game by a score of 14-9.
Freshman sensation Ryan Kellogg took the hill for ASU, and although his line wasn’t spectacular — 7.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K on 102 pitches –- he got eight runs in support scattered throughout six innings from the red-hot offense. Relievers Alex Blackford and Matt Dunbar followed Kellogg in the seventh. Combined, they allowed two runs on three hits and held the lead slightly 10-9. But the bats re-emerged in the bottom half of the inning, and the Sun Devils scored four runs, including two on wild pitches. That proved to be plenty for Dunbar, as he came back to the mound for the ninth and shut down the Ducks to seal the deal.
“We needed to win today. We need to win tomorrow and we needed to win today,” said Dunbar after the game. “We have a little bone to pick since they swept us in three games last year up in Eugene, and we’re trying to return the favor this year.”
Kellogg won his seventh game of the season, keeping his record unblemished as Arizona State eclipses the halfway point of the season. His ERA jumped from 1.37 to 2.19 after his effort Saturday night. Dunbar, who threw two frames in last night’s extra-inning affair, earned his first save of the year, throwing 24 pitches in 1.2 innings of work.
“[Dunbar] is actually better the more he pitches. He’s that type of guy,” said head coach Tim Esmay. “Certain guys can go multiple days and certain guys can’t. Last night’s outing wasn’t very taxing on him, and by going with him tonight, we didn’t have to go to [closer Ryan] Burr.”
This is the second weekend in a row that Arizona State has led a Pac-12 series over a higher-ranked opponent. Last weekend, the Devils led the No. 4 UCLA Bruins after two games, but failed to win the third; they would drop that game as a result of a poor starting pitching performance and errant fielding. This series, they have Oregon on the ropes as they look for their first in-conference sweep this season. Overall, ASU is 5-2 against top 5 teams this year.
Junior righthander Billy Young will look to solve the Sun Devils’ woes at the third starter slot on Sunday. Young’s only other start this season came on April 2nd at Wichita State, in which he threw five innings and surrendered six hits, two runs (both earned) and four walks while striking out two, but did not earn the win.
First pitch at Packard Stadium on Sunday is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT.