PHOENIX - When the ball rolled in-between first baseman Ethan Long’s legs, it felt like last season had rolled-over into this year’s debut.
Then Arizona State (1-0) got the leadoff-man on-base to start the ninth-inning rally. Moments later, they were victorious in a 6-5 win over San Diego State (0-1).
Meanwhile at Farrington Stadium, ASU Softball (5-2) was packing up its equipment. Both games had started at similar times, but Megan Bartlett’s team was heading home early after completing an 8-0 run-rule victory over Portland State (2-5).
Both teams collected their first home-win of the year, with ASU Baseball winning its season-debut.
We are starting to see what the hype surrounding freshman Kylee Magee is all about. Magee, who made her third start Friday night, threw five complete innings of three-hit, no-run softball at Farrington Stadium against Portland State.
On offense, nobody has started the season as hot as senior infielder Jordyn VanHook (3-for-3, 5 RBI). VanHook, who has four home runs on the season, added to that count by blasting a solo shot and two doubles in the 8-0 win Friday night.
HAVE A NIGHT @jordynvanhook #ForksUp /// #O2V pic.twitter.com/jJEFMn0NDJ— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) February 18, 2023
“I just have been working really hard this offseason,” VanHook said. “Like yes I didn’t get much playing time in the previous three years, but right now, I’m just really focused on making the most of my opportunities. (I am) not really trying to think much of it, just taking it day by day, so just continuing this path I’m going on.”
Graduate infielder Alexa Milius is 7-for-12 to start the season. On Friday, she sustained that total with a pair of RBI-doubles. Yanni Acuña also added an RBI-double.
Florida State-transfer Ross Dunn immediately faced some trouble. Freshman Nu’u Contrades booted a ball in his first fielding attempt at third base. A runner reached via infield single. Dunn threw a ball into center-field on a pickoff attempt.
There were not many worse ways to start a game, but Dunn somehow escaped unscathed, allowing 0 runs in the first inning.
Dunn, who was on a pitch-count, finished the evening with 2.2 innings-pitched, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts and 0 runs-allowed.
Offensively, the Sun Devils did not waste any time. Sophomore catcher Ryan Campos, who hit .351 last season, doubled in his first at-bat. Sophomore designated-hitter Jacob Tobias drove him home moments later for the early 1-0 lead.
In the next inning, Will Rogers (3-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 R) demolished ASU’s first homer of the season on a long-shot over the left-field wall that went 448 feet for the 2-0 lead, The ball left his bat at almost 111 miles per-hour.
Head on a swivel if you're driving on Van Buren— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) February 18, 2023
4️⃣4️⃣8️⃣ feet into the night for @willrogers219 and a 2-0 Sun Devil lead after two! pic.twitter.com/T9rbPy7QuT
Luke Hill (2-for-3, 1 2b, 1 RBI) drove freshman Isaiah Jackson home on an RBI-single for insurance in the fourth inning to go up 4-0.
SDSU clawed all-the-way back over the span of the sixth-through-ninth innings. San Francisco-transfer Owen Stevenson and Valparaiso-transfer Nolan Lebamoff each allowed 2 earned-runs in-relief.
In the ninth, SDSU took the lead. With the game knotted at 4-4 and two outs on the board with the go-ahead runner on third base, Long let a routine ball go between his legs. The Aztecs took a 5-4 lead off an unearned-run.
Past ASU teams may have conceded, but this team responded immediately. Freshman Kien Vu, in his first Sun Devil at-bat, singled up the middle to start the ninth. In the next at-bat, San Francisco-transfer Luke Keaschall (1-for-4, 1 RBI) tripled to tie things at 5-5.
SDSU then intentionally-walked arguably ASU”s two best hitters, Campos and Long, to face Tobias with the bases-loaded. He rolled into a fielder’s choice. Rogers, who homered earlier, now had a shot to end the ballgame.
And so he did.
Rogers drilled a ball down the left-field line to score Campos for a walk-off opening-night victory for ASU 6-5 over SDSU.
“What a way to start,” head coach Willie Bloomquist said. “The guys battled. We had every opportunity to cash that one in. (We) played very sloppy in a lot of ways, but it’s tough to win. (It’s) tough to win games and they battled tough toward the end. Some guys stepped up big time, Kien Vu with that at bat in the ninth. (The) kid’s a baseball player, and ready for his opportunity, and made the most of it.”