Torrez, Rodgers Lead ASU to Opening Day Win

Riccio Torrez says he had the first game jitters. He committed a throwing error on the first play of the game, but after that the jitters wore off pretty fast.

The junior third baseman finished the day 4-for-5 with two home runs and a career high five runs batted in and sophomore right hander Brady Rodgers tossed five scoreless innings to lead No. 12 ASU past New Mexico 8-2 in its season opener on Friday night at Packard Stadium.

"I always have those first game jitters, just because it is a new season," Torrez said. "[I was] more anxious than nervous."

Outside of a few miscues in the field, ASU (1-0) looked crisp and well-oiled for the first game of the season.

"I was really happy with the intent that we showed up with today and the energy and the maturity," ASU coach Tim Esmay said. "They battled that starter and forced his pitch count up, and they came ready to go."

Torrez got the Sun Devils on the board in the first inning with an RBI single that scored Johnny Ruettiger.

After a sacrifice fly plated a run in the second inning, Torrez blasted a missile out of the park off of UNM (0-1) starter Gera Sanchez to make it 3-0.

The very next inning, Torrez struck again.

This time it was a three run shot that put the Sun Devils in front 7-0.

That lead was plenty for Rodgers, who allowed just two singles and struck out five in his five innings of work.

"All of a sudden you're a Friday starter," Esmay said of Rodgers, who he had on a pitch count. "Last year he had some really quality innings and did some good things for us, but now he's thrown in there and saying let's go start the series out. He was very efficient, hitting his spots. It was a perfect outing for him."

After finding out that he was going to be the Friday night starter, Rodgers' confidence grew and that was evident on the mound.

"I had a bunch of confidence going in," Rodgers said. "When coach picks me to be the number one guy, it really does something to your confidence level because they have trust in you that you can go out and put the team on your shoulders on Friday night."

ASU held an 8-0 lead before the Lobos put together a scoring threat against sophomore reliever Alex Blackford.

A walk and a pair of singles loaded the bases and a run came across to score on an error by shortstop Deven Marrero.

Trey Porras followed with an RBI single and it appeared that Blackford was in for a long inning.

He got a bit of a break when a throwing error that allowed two runs to score was whipped out when Porras was called for interference trying to break up the double play.

Blackford struck out Ben Woodchick to end the threat and worked two additional scoreless innings after the threat.

"What a difference in a year from that young man," Esmay said. "He's not a freshman any more. Blacky got challenged tonight. We always talk about minimizing innings. To get out of that with two runs, he made pitches to minimize the inning and not let it get away from him. He made us not have to use anybody else tonight."

Torrez sensed a different team on Friday, than he had seen a week earlier during the annual alumni game.

"Going back to the alumni game, we took it for granted and were on our heels," Torrez said. "It wasn't a game like mentality. Today was the first time that we had an opponent in the other dugout, so we strapped it on."


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