This article was contributed by Emily Nicholson, an Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School student.
The Arizona State Sun Devils baseball team beat the UNLV Rebels 5-2, to give Head Coach Tim Esmay his 50th career win over a ranked team.
After being down 2-0 in the sixth inning to the No. 20 ranked Rebels, the Sun Devils had to bounce back to get in the swing of things.
“We needed to respond, and I think there was a little residual offense from the weekend,” said Esmay.
Responding with back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the sixth inning from sophomore Dalton DiNatale and freshman Brian Serven, the Sun Devils scraped back into it. The hits from DiNatale and Serven amped up not only the crowd’s energy, but the players as well.
“Energy is always the key,” said freshman pitcher Seth Martinez. “When you have energy, it makes things happen. The energy keeps it rolling, and it helps when everybody is into the game.”
The seventh inning began with freshman Eder Erives took over for Martinez on the mound. Martinez had thrown a career-long six innings on the hill.
“Seth Martinez was outstanding tonight,” Coach Esmay said. “He absolutely pounded the zone and didn’t panic and didn’t chase the scoreboard. He was confident and trusted in his stuff and pitched well.”
Junior Tucker Esmay rejoined the team on the field for the first time since his costly errors contributed to the Sun Devils’ loss to Tennessee on March 9. He redeemed himself with a single, followed by a two-out, two-run single to put the Sun Devils up 5-2.
“It always feel good to get back,” Esmay said. “I’ve been biting tongue waiting for that chance.”
Sharing the same position, second base, as junior Drew Stankiewicz, Esmay had to work even harder to earn his spot back on the green.
“’Stanks’ is a hell of a player, so it was difficult waiting behind him,” Esmay said. “I treat every day as the same, always getting ready for that chance. I just happened to get a good opportunity.”
The game continued with freshman Hever Beuno pitching in the eighth inning and sophomore Ryan Burr pitching in the ninth to finish out the game.
“When Ryan Burr doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s really good,” Coach Esmay said. “I think tonight you could see there was just a different sense to him. He was big on the mound. It was a great response by him.”
Currently ranked third in the PAC-12, the Sun Devils are two games away from second and three games away from first.
“Our offense has been doing a great job, and our pitching has been keeping us in the game,” said Tucker Esmay in regards to winning their fifth consecutive PAC-12 series. “Get our offense going early and let our pitchers do their job.”
“We’ve never had a moment where we thought it was out of reach,” Martinez said.
The Sun Devils will begin a series in Palo Alto on Thursday, April 17, against Stanford.
“When you’re on the road, you can’t afford to let teams hang around,” Coach Esmay said. “If we get a chase to get on somebody, you got to get on them on the road.”
Despite the difficulty of the upcoming stretch, Coach Esmay is optimistic for the team and their success on the approaching road trip.