ASU baseball avenged their loss in Las Vegas to the Rebels, handily defeating UNLV 9-2 to improve their record to 31-8 (12-6 Pac-12).
Arizona State held a commanding lead against UNLV heading into the ninth inning on Tuesday.
ASU did this exactly two weeks ago in Las Vegas too, yet the Rebels rallied and won after a walk-off walk was allowed by Sun Devil pitcher Sam Romero.
This time around, Romero ended the game with a 1-2-3 final frame, and ASU won its 31st game 9-2.
“We didn’t forget that feeling we had after that game,” shortstop Alika Williams said. We took that with us into this game with a chip on our shoulder. We played good clean baseball.”
ASU was able to jump out in front early and Williams drove in the first run. Through two innings, the Devils had five hits, including a home run from pitcher Erik Tolman, and led 4-0.
“When we got a guy like Tolman on the mound, who’s dealing and helps himself out with a bomb, it’s easy to want to keep playing for him and help him get the win,” third baseman Gage Workman said.
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The Rebels climbed back into the game with two runs in the fifth, but Workman caught a line drive and doubled runner Bryson Stott off of first base to limit the damage.
From there, ASU didn’t let UNLV linger as it dropped three in the sixth and one each in the following two innings. Workman and Spencer Torkelson smashed home runs of their own and Williams drove in another two runs to bolster the lead.
The win was ASU’s fourth in its last five games, a good sign after it went 2-6 over its previous eight outings.
“It’s a long season, but we know we’ll go up and down, our biggest thing is consistency,” Tolman said. “Right now, I feel like we’re getting back on track.”
Arizona State is projected to be a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament, according to D1 Baseball. Hosting a regional is not out of the question, but ASU will need to be stellar to end to season to accomplish that.
That starts with a series win against Washington this weekend and then strong outings against No. 1 UCLA, Nebraska, Cal and No. 4 Stanford.
ASU needs to build up wins against strong opponents for its résumé, and the end of its schedule will give it opportunities to do so.
Tuesday’s win over UNLV kept the Sun Devils’ momentum going, but they need to continue to produce strong games like that against the powerhouses of college baseball.
“Our battle cry wasn’t ‘hey let’s stick it to these guys because we lost’,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “It was a midweek game that was very important in the overall big picture, so that was our focus. I am very pleased of how solid we played tonight and a good way to build on the weekend.”
What should help the Sun Devils is that starting pitcher R.J. Dabovich will be available going forward after he missed his last two starts due to a shoulder injury, according to Smith.
He will be eased back into fold, but should help the depth of the pitching staff, a vital proposition for a team that struggled on the mound during its down stretch.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.