On Friday evening in Knoxville, Tenn., Arizona State reminded the sports world why they are considered one of the elite teams in college baseball. The 22nd ranked Sun Devils blanked the University of Tennessee Volunteers 4-0 in their weekend series opener.
The biggest factor in this match-up of collegiate baseball powers: pitching.
ASU starting pitcher Trevor Williams held Tennessee to just three hits through seven shutout frames. Williams finished with eight strikeouts and just one walk in the contest, throwing strikes on 71 percent of his pitches (63 of 89).
The Sun Devils’ southpaw reliever, Brett Lilek, closed out the game, striking out four over two hitless frames. He did walk three, however, as the Vols put some pressure on late. All three of his walks came in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Tennessee to load the bases with two outs. Lilek then induced a ground-out to first base to seal the road victory.
Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano praised Williams’ performance on the mound for ASU. He said, “I think the difference in the game was the fact that Trevor Williams, who I think was lights out tonight, was ball one on only two of our hitters in his seven innings of work. That was probably the difference.”
Freshman relief pitcher Trevor Charpie pitched the final two innings for the Vols, yielding two hits and striking out one in a scoreless outing out of the bullpen.
ASU started the scoring in the top of the second inning, when designated hitter Nate Causey’s RBI single gave the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead. Catcher Max Rossiter scored after a first-pitch base hit up the middle and a steal of second to move into scoring position.
Tennessee’s lead-off walk and single in the bottom of the fourth frame put runners at first and third with one out. However, an attempted double steal by the Vols was stopped by second baseman James McDonald to help ASU survive the rally.
Tennessee starter Zack Godley (0-1) took his first loss of the season. He gave up four runs on four hits in seven innings, struck out nine and walked four.
Arizona State’s shutout was the first since April 28, 2012, against Washington. Coach Tim Esmay’s team committed no errors for the first time since May 13, 2012, at Gonzaga.
ASU and Tennessee will square off again Saturday afternoon. The Vols will send freshman right-hander Aaron Quillen (0-0, 1.80) to the mound, while the Sun Devils will counter with sophomore southpaw Adam McCreery (0-0, 12.00).