With the way the New Mexico Lobos bats came roaring into town, it appears the Sun Devils are fortunate to have met them for only one game.
After just over three hours of action at Packard Stadium, the Lobos (2-2) reigned supreme with a 7-1 victory over Arizona State (2-2)
The unlucky recipient of such an assault was junior pitcher Darin Gillies. Gillies allowed nine hits and six earned runs in just four and one-third innings of work, making the climb back into the game for the offense too steep of a hill to climb.
Donning their sharp-looking black hats and jersey tops, it was not as if the Sun Devils did not have opportunities, especially early on in the game.
New Mexico’s starter, Hector Sanchez, was incredibly reliant on his curveball, which seemed unwilling to cooperate, at least at the onset. After walking the bases loaded in the second inning, Sanchez was able to escape with no damage with the help of shortstop Jare Holley, who made a run-saving diving stop to keep the game scoreless.
Credit must be given to the Lobos for their ability to keep the Sun Devil hitters off balance throughout the night, using four separate pitchers with all throwing either two or three innings. By varying the pitcher on the mound nearly every time through the order, it made it impossible for any Arizona State batter to get comfortable in the box.
Junior shortstop Nick Stankiewicz had an up and down night. While he ripped two base hits from the bottom of the order, he also reciprocated his production back to the Lobos by making two errors in the field, one being a throwing error that led directly to another run.
The other Sun Devil that had a multi-hit game was sophomore catcher RJ Ybarra, who left the game in the seventh due to what appeared to be an apparent lower leg injury.
The only run of the evening came off the bat of sophomore first baseman David Graybill, who crushed a high fastball out to left-centerfield to cut the New Mexico lead in half, at 2-1.
All-around, it was a difficult night for Sun Devil hitters. On five separate occasions, the Devils went down without so much as a base runner to speak of, making it look pretty effortless for the pack of wolves that took the hill for New Mexico.
With three nearly flawless innings of relief work, Jonathan Cuellar picked up his first victory of the season, while Darin Gillies struggled and suffered his first decision of the year, unfortunately, a loss.
The road ahead points straight to California with the Sun Devils going on a swing of three games against three different clubs over the weekend.
Next up, is Long Beach State, who has gotten off to a slow start to say the least. Their season began with a three-game sweep at home against Vanderbilt, before making the trip over to Malibu and falling to Pepperdine, blindsiding the 49ers with a 0-4 start to the season. This Friday at 7 PM, the two lock up in Long Beach, CA.
Over the weekend, the Sun Devils, Long Beach State, Wright State and UC Irvine will battle in round robin like action, soaking up some California sun and gaining invaluable non-conference experience ahead of conference play.