In day three of the Coca-Cola Classic, the No. 25 Arizona State Sun Devils (7-2) came out and shocked the college baseball world again as they beat the preseason No. 1 Arkansas Razorbacks (7-4) by a score of 3-1.
The game embodied the three essentials of baseball: pitching, defense, and timely hitting for the Sun Devils. Arizona State went with freshman Ryan Kellogg on the mound Saturday, who continues to prove that age is truly just a number.
The young Canadian continues to dominate for the Sun Devils as Kellogg threw six innings with three strikeouts no walks and one earned run. The night started out a little rough for Kellogg with a 20-pitch first inning but then cruised on to the sixth before being relieved by senior Alex Blackford.
Kellogg and the rest of ASU’s pitching staff had to deal with the questionable strike zone of the home plate umpire. Dealing with the zone wasn’t a problem for Kellogg.
“I was trying to keep throwing strikes, throw the ball over the plate and hope get themselves out. As long as the ball was in around the zone, I knew they’d be swinging and our defense was going to make the plays,” Kellogg said.
The Sun Devils’ defense made plays Saturday against the Razorbacks, especially from shortstop Drew Stankiewicz. Despite a bad day at the plate, the infielder made two great defensive plays.
Head coach Tim Esmay preached that defense had to be one of the strengths this year for his team.
“We’ve committed at being better at it. Tonight I think will show the guys what we talk about, that you’ve got to separate your offensive and defensive,” Esmay said.
The Sun Devils got on the board early in the second as Nathaniel Causey ripped a double into right field to bring home Trever Allen from second. Jake Peevyhouse also had a stand-up RBI double that drove in one of two runs in the seventh.
Allen was one of the games offensive stars as he had two of ASU’s six hits and scored two of ASU’s three runs. Allen was two for three Saturday with a single and bunt for a base hit.
In one of the wildest turn of events, Allen made it to first safely on his bunt. Arkansas had two throwing errors on a play that sent Allen on a race around the bath paths and made it to third.
“I got the sign to put it down. Benjy gave me the sign right after the bat and didn’t give me anything else that. It wound up turning into a track meet and me just running around. It ended up being the beat it could have,” Allen said.
The Sun Devils will now look to use these victories against the Razorbacks as a confidence booster.
“For us to beat Arkansas twice, that’s huge momentum for us going to Long Beach this weekend and the Pac after that,” Allen said.
Arizona State plays their final game of the Coca-Cola Classic against Gonzaga on Sunday at 4 p.m. MT at Surprise Stadium.