PHOENIX - Outside of a near-collapse in the ninth inning, ASU Baseball (2-0) played a nearly-perfect game Saturday against San Diego State (0-2).
Maybe it was the clear skies, or just a team still riding out a walk-off-high, but the Sun Devils played eight innings of error-free baseball with stellar pitching and timely hitting.
Speaking of, nothing was more timely than second-baseman Luke Keaschall’s (1-for-2, HR, BB) first at-bat of the day. On the first pitch he saw in the first inning, Keaschall, the leadoff-hitter, roped a wall-scraping solo home run to take an early 1-0 lead.
Potential future-freshman-phenom Isaiah Jackson (1-for-2, RBI, 2 R) added a solo-shot of his own on an 0-2 count to extend the Sun Devil lead to 2-0. Jackson’s 2 runs-scored led the team Saturday.
“(Jackson) is a specimen,” Bloomquist said. “The way that he carries himself is tremendous. He belongs here and certainly has done a great job. I look forward to him continuing to do what he has been doing so far.”
And that was all the scoring for the next hour-plus. For five-straight innings, the ASU and SDSU pitchers went back-and-forth, matching each other in efficiency.
On the bump for the Sun Devils was Texas A&M-transfer Khristian Curtis. Curtis impressed in limited innings as an Aggie, but Tommy John Surgery kept him off the field. On Friday, his fastball consistently sat from 94-96 MPH, while peaking at 97 MPH.
In terms of stats that actually matter, he still dominated. Pitching coach Sam Peraza said that the weekend-starters were on a pitch-count of about 45-50 pitches. Curtis ended up going 5.0 innings on 72 pitches with 6 strikeouts, 2 hits and 0 runs-allowed. He also walked 3 batters.
The fifth inning was Curtis’s biggest challenge. With just one out, SDSU loaded the bases. He forced a pop-out, then fell to a 3-2 count with 2 outs and the bases-loaded before striking out Aztec center-fielder Cole Carrigg to keep the score at 2-0, ending the inning.
“I think first and foremost, the resilience that kid has had over the last couple of years, just with what he has been through (is impressive),” head coach Willie Bloomquist said. “For him to come out and get into a game today and throw the ball the way he did, he really has been through a lot, it’s a modern day miracle with everything he has been through. I am just really happy for him. “
Massive gut-check from @khristianc5 as he faces his first jam of the game.— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) February 18, 2023
Bases loaded with one out and he gets an infield fly and this massive strikeout to strand them.
2-0, Devils, M5. pic.twitter.com/Ynhk6TgY1F
Freshman shortstop Luke Hill (0-for-2, RBI), who had two big hits Friday night, contributed to the run-count with a sac-fly RBI in the 8th inning. Moments later, his freshman counterpart on the left side of the infield, Nu’u Contrades (1-for-3, RBI), scored Wyatt Crenshaw (2-for-3, 2B, R) on an RBI-single. Sophomore catcher Ryan Campos scored Contrades on a sac-fly to make the Sun Devil lead 5-0.
Veteran righty Blake Pivaroff allowed 3 hits and plunked an Aztec hitter in a poor showing that amounted to 3 ER-allowed to his name. The tying run was on first-base when closer Brock Peery recorded the final out to win the game.
ASU can sweep SDSU with a win Sunday at Muni. First-pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. local time with LHP Timmy Manning starting on the mound for the Sun Devils.