Sun Devil Baseball Drops Opener, 4-2
PHOENIX – The 15th-ranked Sun Devil Baseball team dropped their season opener to Sacramento State, 4-2, Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
For eight innings Arizona State was in the driver's seat, riding a dominant performance by newly-appointed Friday night starter Cooper Benson and a two-run triple by Drew Swift. The Hornets' bats were kept quiet all night long until the ninth inning when catcher Dawsen Bacho launched a grand slam into left field, giving Sacramento State a 4-2 lead.
After there was a meeting on the mound with Hornets' ace Scott Randall, Drew Swift blasted a two-run triple into the left-center field gap to put the Sun Devils on top 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning. Arizona State would maintain that lead until the ninth inning thanks to the work of Cooper Benson, Brock Peery, and Graham Osman. Hornets' catcher Dawsen Bacho stepped up and a 0-1 pitch from Cam Dennie over the left field fence for a grand slam to put Sacramento State ahead for good.
- Cooper Benson set down 8 batters via the strikeout, giving him four 6+-strikeout performances in five career starts. It was his third game with eight or more strikeouts, as he boasts a 11.4 career K/9 ratio
- Sacramento State ace Scott Randall was picked as the Preseason WAC Pitcher of the Year after going at least six innings in every start last season. The Sun Devils managed to knock him out after five, tagging him for two runs.
- Several career-firsts were accomplished in the season opener.
- Hunter Haas got the start at third base and recorded his first career hit, a single in the fifth inning. He later scored on the Drew Swift triple.
- Brock Peery made his first career pitching appearance, donning the No. 33.
- Nick Wallerstedt came in to pinch run and was credited with his first career stolen base
- Sam Ferri was the only Sun Devil with two-hits, his ninth-career multi-hit performance.
- A two-RBI night for Drew Swift gives him 15 career multi-RBI efforts.
Cooper Benson took the bump on opening night, setting the tone with a scoreless top half of the first. He struck out Hornets' No. 3 hitter Ryan Wasltad, fooling him with a fastball when he was sitting on the slider. Sun Devils went down in order against Hornets' ace Scott Randall.
Benson was locked-in during a dominant second inning, causing the Hornets' batters fits with his change of speeds. He struck out the side, two coming on the fastball and one on the changeup utilizing his entire repertoire. Arizona State was also set down in order, with a pitcher's duel potentially developing.
The Friday night Sun Devil starter continued to cruise in the third inning, letting his defense do the work this time. A 1-2-3 inning gave his team momentum heading into the bottom half of the frame. Sam Ferri registered the first hit of the night for the home side, lacing a leadoff single through the left side. He would be stranded on first, with the game remaining scoreless through three.
The ace in Maroon & Gold looked sharp again in another stress-free frame. Another three Hornets set down made it 11 straight retired for Benson, as he maintained a quick pace. He reached six strikeouts in the inning, representing the fourth time in five career starts he had reached the mark. For the second consecutive inning the Sun Devils got the leadoff batter on when Hunter Jump worked a walk, but was stranded at first.
Sacramento State remained frustrated with Benson's ability to mix it up, going down in order for the fourth consecutive inning. He made it 14 straight Hornets retired, setting the Sun Devils up to take the lead. Sam Ferri's second hit of the game and Hunter Haas' first career hit put two runners on in front of Drew Swift. The leadoff hitter
delivered in a big way, drilling a two-run triple to the left center gap to allow the home side to strike first.
Reaching back for a little extra late into his outing, Benson touched 91 on the gun for a strikeout of Josh Walker. He made it a run of 17 Hornets retired with another flawless inning. Arizona State chased Sacramento State ace Scott Randall after five, as he was replaced by Brady Rodriguez. He retired the Sun Devils 1-2-3 to keep the game at 2-0.
Freshman right-hander Brock Peery made his first appearance as a Sun Devil, earning the seventh inning. He rewarded the coaching staff's trust, delivering a scoreless debut to register a hold. Brian Kalmer came in to pinch hit and drew a leadoff walk, but that would be all the Sun Devils would muster.
Graham Osman replaced Peery and continued the theme for the Arizona State pitching staff. He mowed through the Hornets to maintain the shutout, striking out two in the process. A quick bottom half of the inning set the stage for an exciting ninth.
Cam Dennie was brought in to close the ninth and gave up a grand slam to Hornets' clean-up hitter Dawsen Bacho. The Sun Devils could not mount a ninth inning comeback, despite sending the tying run to the plate after a walk by freshman Jack Moss making his first career plate appearance.
The Sun Devils continue their three-game set with Sacramento State tomorrow evening at 5:00 PM MST. Watch the game via the live stream or follow through live stats. The projected pitching matchup is Arizona State's Tyler Thornton and Sacramento State's Travis Adams.