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Sun Devil baseball finally getting in tune

Anthony Totri Avatar
April 8, 2022

Arizona State’s baseball team has struggled in its first season under coach Willie Bloomquist, but the Sun Devils have won three of their last four games and could be turning the tide. 

ASU shocked the collegiate baseball world earlier this week with a 10-6 win over in-state rival Arizona. The win itself was impressive, but maybe more intriguing was the way that the team achieved it. 

All season, the Sun Devils’ pitching staff has let them down at the end of games. Most recently, ASU’s bullpen gave up seven runs in the top of the ninth inning against Cal. That wasn’t the case against the Wildcats. As the game progressed, ASU’s pitching improved.

Redshirt junior righthander Will Levine was one of the relievers in Tuesday’s rivalry victory. Levine pitched 2.2 innings. Although he wasn’t impressed with his performance, he gave up just one hit and three walks. 

“I obviously didn’t have my best stuff tonight,” Levine said. “Probably struggled the most I have this season with you know command and just trying to get outs, but the guys behind me did an incredible job all game.”

Regardless of who struggled and when, the Sun Devils didn’t allow a Wildcats’ run after the fifth inning. ASU fans may finally be bearing witness to a developing baseball team. 

Throughout the year the Sun Devils have played inconsistent across the board. One day ASU will outscore its opponent 3-1, only to follow it up by absorbing a 21-0 bludgeoning. It hasn’t just been shaky pitching. The bats have been hot and cold for the majority of the season. 

In each of Sun Devil baseball’s last five games, however, the team has managed to score seven or more runs. While runs are always nice, Bloomquist said it’s the timely hits that have been the biggest help. 

“I think they are starting to understand how big those are,” Bloomquist said. “And not trying to do too much in those situations and just continue to get pitches they can handle for one and for two not trying to do too much with those pitches. Staying hard up the middle and hard the other way, good things will happen. It’s not just one or two guys, it’s everybody contributing.” 

When ASU’s bats have cracked this season it’s been a similar rotation of guys who have delivered. Graduate student infielder Conor Davis has been a key hitter for the Sun Devils at times this year. Davis is second on the team in hits (37). 

Other nights, it has been redshirt sophomore outfielder Joe Lampe, who leads the team in home runs (eight) and runs scored (31).

When a healthy combination of Davis and Lampe are in the mix, ASU has been at its best this season. The problem has been getting guys to step up when those two have off nights. 

When Sun Devil baseball beat Arizona on Tuesday, Lampe scored three runs. Lampe’s performance coupled with improved pitching drastically helped the Sun Devils against the Wildcats. Even so, the team got production from guys who normally aren’t difference makers. 

Freshman infielder Cam Magee hit his first home run of the season in the upset win. Not only did the homer add to ASU’s run total, but it seemingly relieved some pressure on more relied-upon players. 

For Magee, that dinger set the tone for what the rest of the evening looked like. 

“(It felt) pretty great,” Magee said. “I wanted to play U of A my whole life so being able to do it – no better feeling.”

The Sun Devils may finally have gotten the spark the team so desperately needed. A win over No. 10/11 Arizona, paired with a recent series win over Cal is just the start. 

If Sun Devil baseball can continue to get the bats to show up from places other than Davis and Lampe then the offense may finally find a rhythm. And if the offense is producing consistently, it takes the pressure off a pitching staff that is still trying to iron out the kinks. 

ASU’s next series begins Friday against Stanford.

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