The mental battle between coaches off the field can often make the difference between a win and a loss.
When Arizona State (21-14) head coach Tim Esmay substituted Tucker Esmay for Drew Stankiewicz after his first at-bat, his son proved his worth going 2 for 2 with one run and two RBI to help Arizona State earn a 5-2 win over the UNLV Runnin' Rebels (25-13) Tuesday night at Packard Stadium.
"I kind of treat everyday the same getting ready for that chance," Tucker Esmay said. "You never really know when it's going to happen"
With the game tied at two in the bottom of the seventh inning Esmay singled, was sacrificed to second base by Chris Beall advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Colby Woodmansee. The run gave the Sun Devils their first lead of the night 3-2 to complete the climb out of a two-run hole they dug themselves in the fifth and sixth innings.
"Our offense has been doing a great job, our pitching has been keeping us in the game," Tucker Esmay said.
Esmay then continued his production in the bottom of the eighth inning driving in two more runs to give the Sun Devils a comfortable 5-2 lead before closer Ryan Burr came in to record his seventh save of the season.
"I felt like we needed a spark," Tim Esmay said. "It's obviously not easy to be a coaches kid and it's not easy to be a kid in this program and fight for playing time but he gave us a spark."
Arizona State starting pitcher Seth Martinez hurled his longest outing of the season going six innings giving up two earned runs on six hits.
"I felt great throughout the whole game," Martinez said. "I just made sure to pound the zone. I have a lot of confidence in the defense the outfielders did a great job today tracking a couple balls down."
Martinez rebounded after giving up four runs in 2 2/3 innings against U of A last Wednesday night in a 10-9 loss.
"I guess it really helped, my start against U of A was kind of iffy so I just knew I had to get back," Martinez said.
Martinez only made two mistakes. The first was a Jason Jones single that brought in Matt McCalister who doubled in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Runnin' Rebels the lead in the top of the fifth. The second was a solo home run by Patrick Armstrong in the top of the sixth inning that gave UNLV their only other run.
"Seth Martinez was outstanding tonight I mean he just made his pitches and pounded the zone and didn't chase the scoreboard," Tim Esmay said.
Dalton DiNatale started the comeback in the bottom of the sixth with a double that stretched to three bases on an error by right fielder Edgar Montes that scored Trever Allen. Brian Serven followed up with another double scording DiNatale to tie the game at two.
"We needed to respond and I think there was a little residual offensively from the weekend and I think sometimes teams go into a little bit of funks," Tim Esmay said. "I felt like we were in a little bit of a funk there but we found a way to kind of grind out some at-bats late and got some big knocks when we needed to."
The Arizona State bullpen also held heir own in relief of Martinez. Eder Erives, Hever Bueno and Ryan Burr combined for three innings of work striking out five and only giving up one hit.
" It was nice to get Erives and Bueno back out there," Tim Esmay said. "Those guys make us better when they're up and running."
The Sun Devils now play nine of their next 10 games on the road starting Thursday night in Palo Alto, Calif. when they start a three-game series against the Stanford Cardinal.