ASU baseball defeats No. 20 UNLV for first April midweek win

Posted: Updated:

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State baseball capped off an eight-game home stand by defeating the No. 20 UNLV Rebels on Tuesday by a score of 5-2.

The Sun Devils were stung the first four innings, but figured out Rebels starter Kenny Oakley (3-3, 2.28 ERA). The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth when UNLV (25-12, 13-5 Mountain West) brought one runner around on second baseman Justin Jones’ single to right. The Rebels added another run in the top of the sixth on first baseman Patrick Armstrong’s solo home run that just wrapped around the left field foul pole, taking a 2-0 lead. 

Arizona State (20-14, 9-6 Pac-12) got those two runs back in the bottom half of the sixth. With one out in the inning, a Kenny Oakley pitch hit right fielder Trever Allen. Two batters later, newly appointed cleanup hitter Dalton DiNatale doubled to right, scoring Allen. DiNatale would take third base on an error by UNLV right fielder Edgar Montes, putting him in position to score easily on catcher Brian Serven’s double and tying the game at two runs apiece.

The Sun Devils strategically added another run in the bottom of the seventh. Second baseman Tucker Esmay singled to start the frame, prompting a successful sac bunt by designated hitter Chris Beall. Esmay advanced to third on a wild pitch, and tagged up to score on a sacrifice fly to the left field warning track by shortstop Colby Woodmansee.

Arizona State starting right-hander Seth Martinez (2-0, 5.75) went a career-high six innings, surrendering six hits and two runs (both earned) while striking out three Rebel batters.

“I felt great throughout the whole game,” Martinez said. “I just made sure to pound the zone and have a lot of confidence in the defense.” 

The Sun Devils got excellent bullpen support upon Martinez’ exit, as fellow freshmen righties Eder Erives (1-0, 1.64) and Hever Bueno (0-0, 2.38) pitched scoreless, hitless seventh and eighth innings, respectively. 

“Those guys [Erives & Bueno] make us better,” head coach Tim Esmay said. “They give us a chance to not over-use [reliever Jordan] Aboites…and now, it allows him to get fresh. It makes for a good situation.”

For good measure, the Sun Devils tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, increasing their lead to 5-2. With two out and the bases loaded, Tucker Esmay came through with a two-RBI double up the middle off of Rebels reliever Brayden Torres.

The young Esmay lead the Sun Devil offense after taking Drew Stankiewicz’ place in the sixth inning. He went 2-for-2 with two RBI’s and one run. DiNatale went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, as well as a walk. 

ASU closer Ryan Burr (3-3, 3.06) picked up his seventh save of the season, helping his own cause in the bottom of the ninth with two strikeouts. Erives earned his first win of the season, while Oakley picked up his third loss. 

The Sun Devils depart this weekend for a three-game series at Stanford (13-16, 4-8). In observance of Easter Sunday, the games will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST.