In the first Saturday game of the year, the offense looked to be in fine form, but it was the freshmen that stole the show.
The second game of the season served not only as an offensive showcase for the Sun Devils, but also as a coming out party for the nine freshmen who made their first appearances in the diamond.
R.J. Ybarra, David Graybill, Dalton DiNatale, Jordan Aboites, Tony DiMartino, Johnny Sewald, Cullen O’Dwyer, Christopher Beall and Ryan Kellogg were the nine true freshmen that saw playing time. Everyone but Sewald and Aboites got their first collegiate hit.
The Sun Devils’ bats were active from the very beginning. In the first game, ASU was hitting right to the defenders, but in the second, it was an entirely different story. Before the fourth inning was over, eight of the nine Sun Devil hitters had at least one RBI and all of them had at least one hit. By the end of the game, 12 different ASU players recorded hits and nine had RBIs.
Freshman southpaw Ryan Kellogg pitched four innings in relief to clinch his first career win. He allowed three hits and no runs while walking one and striking out four.
“I was hoping to pitch well…the nerves were definitely going. I was shaking a little bit, but once you get that first out, out of the way, you settle down a little bit,” Kellogg said.
The freshmen had very active bats throughout the day, combining for eight hits and four RBIs. Graybill went three-for-four at the plate, notching his first career hit and RBI in his first at bat.
“The first couple innings, it was really nerve-racking…but once you get settled in, get your first hit, first at bat, first play, it’s just kind of cake after that,” Graybill said.
Ybarra, notching his first start at DH, got two hits and one RBI. DiNatale and DiMartino also came away from their first game with one hit apiece.
With a 12-6 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, five of the seven Sun Devil batters were freshmen. They did not disappoint; Cullen O’Dwyer knocked in two RBIs in his first career at bat with a double.
To start the 7th inning, ASU had seven freshmen on the field along with senior catcher Max Rossiter and redshirt sophomore second baseman Tucker Esmay. This young unit only allowed one hit and committed no errors, supporting another strong inning from Kellogg.
With freshmen accounting for 14 of the 34 roster slots, today’s outing showed a lot of promise for what the rest of the season could hold for a very highly touted recruiting class. They have shown power at the plate, confidence in the field and dominance on the mound. The three freshmen who have pitched, Brett Lilek and Ryan Burr in game one and Kellogg in game two, have combined for nine innings with nine strikeouts while only allowing one run.
Thanks to great hitting and freshmen rising to the occasion, ASU clinched the series versus Bethune-Cookman, the first on a long road to Omaha.