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Sun Devils pound Valpo 15-3

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Following last night’s rout of Valparaiso (14-23), No. 9 Arizona State (24-11-1) refused to let up offensively, as they defeated the Crusaders by a score of 15-3.

The Sun Devils scored early and often as they plated one run in the first, four in the second, and eight in a colossal third inning.  Michael Benjamin and James McDonald both tripled in the second to spark the scoring, and freshman RJ Ybarra hit a grand slam on a Chris DeBoo slider in the third to put the game further out of reach.  It was the first grand slam by a Sun Devil in three years.

“I had seen five or six sliders prior to that, so I just had to sit on it and drive it,” said Ybarra.  “I got the pitch I wanted and just crushed it.”

Ybarra went 2 for 4 with five RBIs, while fellow freshman Dalton DiNatale went 4 for 4 with two runs and three RBIs.  DiNatale started the game at first base, but moved to third after Benjamin left the game due to a hand injury suffered during his first at-bat.

Standout pitcher Ryan Kellogg started on the mound for the Sun Devils and continued his run of dominance this season.  After three prefect frames, he surrendered a single run in each of the subsequent three innings.  The Crusaders scored on a fielder’s choice double play in the fourth and on RBI singles by John Loeffler and Bryce Hara in the fifth and sixth innings.

Kellogg finished the night having allowed six hits, three runs (two earned), one walk and four strikeouts in six innings of work.  The bullpen blanked Valparaiso from there, getting solid relief performances from Billy Young, Josh McAlister and Ryan Burr.  Kellogg improved to 9-0 with a 2.34 ERA.

“It’s pretty easy as an offense to hit when you know the guy on the mound is going to throw well, and that’s always a confidence booster to know we’ve got Kellogg on the mound,” added Ybarra.  “He’s going to go out there and do what he’s been doing all year, and so we just have to put some runs on the board and we know we’re going to win this game.”

Senior Alex Blackford (4-0, 2.36 ERA) starts the final game of the series tomorrow against Valparaiso lefty Dalton Lundeen (1-0, 2.70 ERA).  First pitch at Packard Stadium is set for 12:30 p.m. PT.

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