LOS ANGELES — Arizona State head coach Tim Esmay called Friday night’s 5-0 loss to USC one of the “least inspired performances we’ve had.” On Saturday, the Sun Devils bounced back with a more enthusiastic vigor as Kasey Coffman and freshman Ryan Kellogg led them to a 6-3 win to even the weekend series at Dedeaux Field.
After managing only one hit on Friday night, Coffman got the Devils going with a single the opposite way to left field to begin the game. He was followed by three more Sun Devils baserunners as Arizona State tripled Friday’s hit total in the first inning and took an early 2-0 lead on JR Ybarra’s two-run single.
Kellogg didn’t have his best stuff, but he did what good starters do. He pitched out of trouble on multiple occasions, stranding eight USC runners in six innings pitched. Despite giving up eight hits and three walks, Kellogg allowed only two runs to score.
With Arizona State up 2-1 in the fourth inning, the Sun Devils spotted Kellogg an extra pair of insurance runs when Nate Causey singled home a run and was later driven in by Coffman.
Coffman tripled in his next at bat and capped off a 4-for-5 day with a two-run homer in the ninth inning that he blasted to right-centerfield where the ball generally doesn’t carry well at Dedeaux Field.
The homer was a welcomed cushion for ASU after USC had trimmed the lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning on a Jake Hernandez single. But the Trojans ran themselves out of an opportunity to do more damage against Kellogg in the inning. With runners on the corners, USC went with a safety squeeze as it had done successfully in a similar situation Friday night. Pinch hitter J.R. Aguirre’s bunt went right back to Kellogg. At third base, Timmy Robinson made a poor read and took off to the plate where he was easily tagged out after Kellogg flipped the ball to Ybarra. Kellogg then got a flyout to end the inning.
Darin Gillies followed with two scoreless innings and turned the ball over to burly freshman Ryan Burr. The 6-foot-4, 215 pounder allowed an unearned run on a James Roberts double down the left field line, but with the extra insurance Coffman provided, there was no pressure on Burr and he got the final out to even the series up.
Causey was the only Sun Devil other than Coffman to record multiple hits while Adam Landecker, Blake Lacey and Roberts each had two hits for USC.
After the game, I talked with Coffman and Esmay about bouncing back from Friday night’s loss.
Arizona State head coach Tim Esmay talks about the mood in the clubhouse coming into Saturday’s contest as well as the performances of Kasey Coffman and Ryan Kellogg:
Arizona State centerfielder Kasey Coffman talks about his strong performance at the plate and how disappointing it was for the Sun Devils to lose on Friday night when they didn’t play up to their expectations: