In his first start of the season, junior right-handed pitcher Sam Romero delivered a Friday night start that the Sun Devils (5-5) needed in a 9-1 win over Oklahoma State (5-3) at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Romero went six innings, allowing one run on five hits. The Phoenix native also collected seven strikeouts in his start, and struck out all three Cowboy batters he faced in the third inning.
With sophomore left-hander Spencer Van Scoyoc struggling in two previous series openers, Romero was called upon and came up big for the Devils Friday night.
“He set the tone. That’s exactly what he did,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said. “Sam is a strike thrower. The guys like him. He’s a unique — fun personality in the clubhouse. When you got that guy out there doing what he’s supposed to do tactically and guys enjoy playing behind him the energy level is going to be there.”
After allowing a leadoff single to Ryan Cash to start the game, Romero found his stride retiring 11 of the next 13 batters he faced. In the sixth inning, Romero struck out his final batter of the night and was clearly pumped up after his outstanding performance.
“I knew it was like the last batter I had right there,” Romero said. “I knew what I wanted to go with too. Once I struck him out, I knew I did what I came here to do, I was pumped.”
The Sun Devils also helped their starter with run support early in the game, as the offense came out firing on all cylinders.
Junior center fielder Gage Canning got the Arizona State bats started. Canning lifted a ball into left field that looked like a routine out until Oklahoma State’s right fielder Cade Cabbiness appeared to lose the ball in the lights, giving Canning a leadoff double.
Freshman shortstop Drew Swift followed with a bunt single that landed just out of the reach of the Cowboys’ pitcher Jonathan Heasley. Sophomore catcher Lyle Lin and freshman first baseman Spencer Torkelson came through with RBI from a single and a sacrifice fly to give the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead.
Before finishing the first inning, Arizona State extended its early lead to three when sophomore left fielder Hunter Bishop reached on an infield single scoring Lin.
The Sun Devils added three more runs in the third inning, increasing their lead to 6-0. Torkelson and sophomore third baseman Carter Aldrete started the inning with a walk and a single respectively.
Freshman designated hitter Gage Workman drove in both of them after sending a ball into the right field corner for a triple. Workman scored after a sacrifice fly from freshman left fielder Trevor Hauver.
Romero’s only run given up came in the fifth inning. Oklahoma State’s Jon Littell started the inning with a triple and scored on Trevor Boone’s double. The double was the Cowboys’ only hit with runners in scoring position as Romero limited them to 1-for-10 in those situations.
The Devils got the run back quickly as Workman tripled again in the bottom half of the inning. He’d come around to score on a wild pitch to make the game 7-1 Sun Devils.
Arizona State added two more runs in the sixth pushing their lead to eight.
Meanwhile, freshmen pitchers Dellan Raish and Brady Corrigan came on for three innings of relief, allowing no runs and combining for five strikeouts to seal the win.
Game two for the series with Oklahoma State will be Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.