Last Saturday night, Ryan Kellogg held the UCLA Bruins scoreless through seven innings. In the eighth inning he gave up four runs (two earned) and the Sun Devils eventually fell to the Bruins in 17 innings.
Thursday night, in the series opener against Washington State, Kellogg was determined to not allow history to repeat itself. That's why, when two runners reached with one-out in the eighth, instead of allowing the big hit, he struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
It was one of just a few times the junior lefty was in trouble against the Cougars, as Kellogg tossed a complete game shutout, scattering five hits, striking out 11 and not walking a batter in ASU's 5-0 victory in front of 1,809 fans at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
"I thought about it before I went out there, the curse of the eighth inning," said Kellogg. "So when I got out there and got a few guys on base I thought to myself 'hey just put the defense to work here' and we had a lead so if they scored a run it is what it is."
Thursday night's outing was almost an extension of Kellogg's previous game against UCLA. Against one of the top teams in the nation, Kellogg kept the Bruins scoreless in eight of nine innings he threw last Saturday. In his last two appearances, he has held opponents scoreless in 17 of 18 innings pitched.
"Keeping the ball down has definitely been a big thing," said Kellogg. "My slider has gotten a lot better, my change up has been more consistent as of late so just being able to throw two or three pitches for strikes and being able to keep them down in the zone has been a big help."
The superb outing comes a day after head coach Tracy Smith announced a change in the weekend rotation. Moving Kellogg from his usual Saturday night role into the Friday night role (Thursday this week because of television). The move meant that Kellogg would be throwing on four days rest. A fact that didn't seem to bother the Canadian.
"Usually this a bullpen day for me," said Kellogg. "I guess this was just really an elongated bullpen. I just had to go out there and give it all I had. It was a short week, but we do a lot of work in the weight room to make sure we are ready for games like this."
Kellogg threw exactly 100 pitches Thursday night, making it the second time in a row he has thrown over 100 pitches in a game. A feat his head coach isn't worried about.
"Back in the day in college baseball, if you pitched on Wednesday you pitched on Sunday and if you pitched on Sunday you pitched on Friday or Saturday of the next week," said Smith. "I think we have created this beast in college baseball where guys throw once a week."
The offense produced more than enough in support of Kellogg.
The Sun Devils broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second inning. Following back-to-back singles by David Greer and Joey Bielek, Trever Allen singled down the left field line to score two runs and give ASU a 2-0 lead.
ASU held a two-run lead until the seventh inning, when RJ Ybarra brought home Greer with an RBI double. The Sun Devils broke the game open in the eighth inning when Brian Serven doubled home two runs with one out.
The lead was more than enough for Kellogg, who notched a career high in strikeouts and with him picking up the victory, he is just the fourth left handed pitcher in ASU history to win 27 games in his career.
"He's the guy I don't worry about," said Smith about Kellogg. "This is him, it''s great he threw a shutout tonight, but that has been him all year. Maybe not the win, maybe not the strikeouts, but he's the guy who goes out and just does him job with an aggressive demeanor and a confident demeanor every single time."
The Sun Devils will look to take the series against the Cougars when the two teams meet at Phoenix Muni Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.