With a shiny new national ranking and three-game winning streak, there was plenty of excitement at Hi Corbett Field as Arizona welcomed Arizona State to start a pivotal series on Friday night.
The Sun Devils managed to drain all of that enthusiasm from the outset.
Sparked by a leadoff triple off the bat of Gage Canning, the maroon and gold jumped on Wildcat starter Nathan Bannister for five runs in the opening frame. The visitors from Tempe would never relinquish that lead, cruising to a big 5-2 win to start the best-of-three Territorial Cup series.
So that was a fun top of the first inning...five runs on four hits
Arizona State starter Seth Martinez (8-3) was brilliant on Friday, going 7.1 innings and only allowing one earned run on six scattered hits. He set the opponent down in order to close the first inning, and that trend continued all the way into the fifth.
Martinez's bid for a perfect game was broken up with one out in the bottom of the fifth by Alfonso Rivas III, who knocked a single back up the middle to serve as Arizona's first baserunner of the evening. The right-hander quickly brushed off the misstep, recording back-to-back flyouts to center field to get out of the inning.
The Wildcats were finally able to scrape something together in the bottom of the seventh, using a two-out triple and passed ball to score their first run of the contest. Martinez would go on to walk two more batters, giving the crowd of 6,324 some brief life, but a nasty slider got Michael Hoard to go down on strikes and end the threat.
Arizona added its final run of the night in the eighth, getting a leadoff triple from senior Cody Ramer. The throw that tried to get Ramer at third, however, was wide of the bag, allowing Ramer to take home as the ball went out of play.
After managing to bring the tying run to the on-deck circle later in the frame, Sun Devil head coach Tracy Smith called upon Eder Erives to shut the door on the Wildcats. Erives did just that, striking out four batters in less than two innings to seal the deal on Arizona State's 5-2 victory.
The Sun Devils improved to 30-16 (12-10 Pac-12) with the win, putting them in great position to go for a résumé-building series win tomorrow night. They are now up to No. 44 in the RPI, which ranks third among Pac-12 teams.
The series with Arizona will continue Saturday at 7:00 PM. Those not in attendance at Hi Corbett Field can watch the game on the Pac-12 Networks.