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When Conor Davis last hit the baseball diamond in a regular-season game, he was leading then-No. 14 Auburn with three home runs and was hitting .339. His last game, a 4-3 loss to Wofford in Auburn, Alabama, was on March 11, 2020.
Despite the passage of 709 days and the challenge of a torn ACL, Davis hasn’t missed a step. In his first appearance for ASU, the graduate-student first baseman hit a home run in his first at-bat in a 3-1 win against Dixie State on Friday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
“It’s been an emotional day, emotional week,” Davis said. “It’s been so much about getting my knee right the past couple of months, (and) now it’s all about us.”
Davis is one of the oldest players in the dugout. The team will have to rely on his leadership and experience for a successful 2022 season. In the first game, Davis led ASU to a win.
“Just knowing what he’s gone through in his rehab process to get back to the field is pretty dang special,” Sun Devils coach Willie Bloomquist said. “(I’m) really proud of him, how he carried himself. He’s a huge piece of our team and a big leader.”
On top of the home run, Davis had a 2-for-4 performance at the plate and a clean game fielding with seven putouts.
In addition to Davis, starting pitcher Adam Tulloch had a stellar showing. He recorded seven strikeouts against 15 batters. He didn’t give up a hit in his 4.1 innings of action.
“There’s always pressure, but that’s what we live for,” Tulloch said of starting the opening game for ASU. “You work through it and use that as fire to fuel you.”
The play of Tulloch and the pitching staff will be a major key to determining the success of the season.
An area where ASU will need to improve is in manufacturing runs. The Sun Devils left five runners on third, and only scored one small-ball run. The third run of the night came off of a wild pitch.
“It was good to get the first one out of the way,” Bloomquist said after his first career game and win. “Our pitching staff threw the ball extremely well. Offensively, we got runners on base, but couldn’t cash in as much as we would like. We have to do a better job of situational hitting.”
ASU will finish its series against Dixie State on Saturday and Sunday.