Maintaining focus in a game against Tennessee Tech can be tough at times, and Arizona State found that to be true in the middle innings of Friday night's series opener against the Golden Eagles. Luckily for the Sun Devils, an efficient offensive attack early on in the game staked the team to a five run lead, one they would never fully relinquish.
Colby Woodmansee got one of his best games of the season started off on the right foot in the first inning, driving home the first run of the game with a single to left field. A pair of quality groundouts brought in two more runs in the opening frame, giving the maroon and gold a 3-0 advantage before the visitors even knew what him them.
The onslaught continued in the second as Arizona State led off with three consecutive base hits to add another run on the board. The Sun Devils were not done however, as the ever dangerous Woodmansee recorded his second RBI on a similar stroke to left field.
The Tennessee Tech coaching staff kept its faith in starting pitcher Chris Chism, and the senior right-hander would eventually settle in. He only allowed four hits over his final five innings of work, not allowing another run to cross the plate.
His offense finally broke through for him in the top half of the fifth. Maroon and gold starter Seth Martinez had been dynamite up until that point, but a leadoff double and subsequent fielding error seemed to shake his confidence. The Golden Eagles would end up scoring three runs in the frame, the final two of which came with two outs.
From then on it was the Eder Erives show. The reliever came out of the bullpen and squashed any hopes of a comeback, throwing nearly four innings of two hit, shutout baseball.
"It didn't feel any different than normal," Erives said after the game. "Just taking it one inning at a time, going out there and executing pitches, and doing my job is all I am trying to do."
The home team added a dagger of a run in the eighth, and once again it was Woodmansee to do Tennessee Tech in. His two out shot to the gap in right center easily scored Jake Peevyhouse from second, giving Arizona State a 6-3 lead and putting the game out of reach.
It wouldn't be Sun Devil baseball without a little drama at the end, of course. Wanting to give some new arms a little work, head coach Tracy Smith called upon reliever Eric Melbostad with two outs and a runner on second in the top of the ninth. The right-hander then quickly loaded the bases on a four pitch walk and a bad throw after a comebacker to the mound.
As the crowd of 2,288 at Phoenix Muni started to grow restless, Melbostad was able to shut the door. He got another comebacker to him at the mound, making a good throw this time to earn him the one out save.
"Of course, everyone wants to finish the game," said Erives about being pulled. "But it's a decision of the head coach's doing and I respect all the decisions that Skip makes."
Martinez (2-0) ended up earning the win for the maroon and gold, while Chism (6-2) took the loss. It wasn't the sharpest of outings for the sophomore, but it was one that got the job done.
"Maybe we don't get away with that (kind of performance) against UCLA or USC, but I've got to give (Martinez) credit," said Smith. "Five innings, one earned run, six strikeouts, one walk? I'll take that any day of the week."
The two teams will be back at it for game two tomorrow night at 6:30 PM. ASU will send southpaw Ryan Kellogg to the mound as it tries to seal the series win.