By Brian Kreps
TEMPE, Ariz – Arizona State junior Seth Martinez doesn’t seem to mind the Friday night spotlight shining on him.
Once again, Martinez filled in for anointed Friday starter junior Hever Bueno. And, as he did last week, Martinez delivered again. Martinez allowed only one run over six innings as the Sun Devils took game one of series over Eastern Michigan with a 12-4 win in front of 2,433 fans in attendance at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
“He was uncharacteristically up early, but when he had to make pitches in tough situations, he made them. I think that was huge for him to be able to do that,” Arizona State coach Tracy Smith said. “Seth was Seth again, so good for him, and for us.”
Martinez (3-0) struggled in the first two innings of the game, but still allowed just one run to score, pitching out of multiple jams. In the third inning, he seemed find his groove.
“My confidence hit another level. My slider was down in the zone better, and we started to work more inside,” Martinez said.
The Sun Devils had many stars tonight, but the night clearly belonged to junior Brian Serven. On defense, he worked with Martinez to execute the game plan, and threw out two base runners, bring that total to 10 on the season. On the offensive side, Serven went 3-for-5 with a home run, his first of the season, and five RBI’s.
“He’s a weapon back there. He’s a weapon offensively. He’s starting to heat up,” Smith said. “Most importantly at that position, you got to control the running game. I thought he killed a couple of their innings by throwing some of their guys out.”
Having two players not available forced Arizona State to give freshman Jeremy McCuin his first start of the season at third base. And, of course, McCuin was tested right away, snagging a smashed one-hopper and throwing to first for the out. In the fourth inning, he laced a double to score fellow freshman Gage Canning, making the score 2-1 in favor of the Sun Devils. McCuin would add a RBI in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly. On the night, he would go 1-for-2 with 2 RBIs and one walk.
“You never know when your opportunity is gonna come. You have to be ready for the opportunity, and the way to be ready for you opportunity is to come to practice every day and work hard at it as if you’re going to play,” Smith said. “There’s nothing more rewarding then seeing a guy who hasn’t played, and gets thrown in there and produces the way he did. Not just offensively, but defensively to start the game off with a unbelievable play. Happy for him, and well deserved. He got our little win shirt we do. I think he was the player of the game for us.”
The Sun Devils did commit two errors. However, they were able to minimize them, and didn’t allow them to dictate the outcome of the game, as has happened in previous games.
“The positive for me, we only walked two people, and if we do that, we have to play good defense. If we do that, we’re gonna have a chance to win” said Smith.
Eastern Michigan (4-6) managed to stay within striking distance by scoring in the second, seventh and eighth, cutting the deficit to 8-4, before the Sun Devils erupted for four runs in the eighth, capped by Serven’s home run, to increase the lead to 12-4.