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Offense Offsets Pitching Woes for ASU’s Second Win

On Friday night, Arizona State clobbered the Santa Clara Broncos 11-6 under the Phoenix Municipal lights. The offense, led by three-hit nights each from Isaiah Jackson, Brandon Compton, and Kevin Karstetter, proved just how potent they can be even without the likes of Nick Mclain in the lineup. 

Things looked even more promising on the mound, as freshman pitchers Thomas Burns and Ben Jacobs limited Santa Clara’s offense to one run over seven innings whilst striking out 10. The question that lingers, however, is how sustainable is the success of the ball club? Just how hot are the Sun devils really?

As Game 2 of the series would show, the question had some mixed answers. 

ASU came out of the gates swinging, putting up 10 runs in the first three innings. Center fielder Isaiah Jackson opened the scoring with a two-run single in the first, as well as another two-run single in the third. Brandon Compton roped a two-run double shortly after, but the biggest blow of the inning came from a Nu’u Contrades grand slam that he smashed over the center field wall to put Arizona State up 10-4 in the third. 

While the offense showed proficiency similar to yesterday's match, the same cannot be said for the pitching. Connor Markl had some struggles out of the gate, and ultimately finished his afternoon after three and two thirds innings, surrendering six runs (five earned) and seven hits. The silver lining in Markl’s outing was the six strikeouts he amassed during his limited time on the mound. 

Sean Fitzpatrick, the Arkansas transfer, came in to relieve Markl and had some struggles of his own as he allowed two runs in just two thirds of an inning. Matt Tiedings would relieve Fitzpatrick and surrender another four runs putting Santa Clara ahead 12-11 going into the bottom of the sixth.

Jacob Tobias would provide a much needed hit, smoking an opposite field home run to tie the game at 12. It would be the third home run of the day for the Sun Devils, tying yesterday’s total. It would not be the last home run of the day. Two batters later, Isaiah Jackson would connect on a massive go ahead two-run blast over the Whiteman Family Performance Center in right, once again putting ASU out front. 

For Jackson, last year it took him 22 games to reach nine RBIs. This season he hit that total in just nine at-bats. If ASU looks to reach the playoffs this season, they are going to need Isaiah Jackson to continue to step up like he has so far. 

The warm feeling following Jackson’s home run didn’t last long, as Santa Clara would put up another run in the seventh to bring the Broncos within one. Santa Clara amassed at least one run from the fourth inning on, sparking concern over ASU’s bullpen integrity moving forward. 

Righty reliever Hunter Omlid would enter the ballgame in the eighth and give the Sun Devils a much needed scoreless inning. Santa Clara pitcher Sebastian Schreiber would unfortunately do the same. This meant it was up to the Arizona State closer, Cole Carlon, to shut it down for the win. It was certainly a high leverage situation for Carlon, as he was set to face the top of the Broncos order, including Jon Jon Berring who was a thorn in ASU’s side all game. Prior to his ninth inning at-bat, Berring was 3-5 with two doubles and three RBIs.

Carlon forced Jon Jon Berring to ground out to second base. It was a huge first out and a sigh of relief for the ASU faithful. Next batter Coleman Brigman would ground out to short for the second out, and soon everyone began to rise from their seats at Phoenix Municipal. With a two strike count to Michael O’Hara, Carlon delivered a fastball called for strike three. The punchout concluded a long fought contest, and the Sun Devil fans celebrated the thrilling 14-13 triumph over Santa Clara.

The Sun Devils have hit a collective .417 in their first two ball games and a whopping .433 with runners in scoring position. For Isaiah Jackson, the contributions up and down the lineup have been spectacular . “Our lineup’s perfect. We’ve got guys that can get on base, guys that get extra base hits, guys that get runners in,” Jackson said. “I’m blessed to have guys in front of me that are able to get on base.”

The Sun Devils look to ride the momentum for the three game sweep tomorrow, as Tyler Meyer starts on the bump at 1 PM MPT.

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