Devils begin season with walk-off win in 11th

The 16th ranked Sun Devil baseball team was eager to kick off their season and to say they did it in an exciting manner would be an understatement. ASU would need an 11th inning walk-off run driven by center fielder Kasey Coffman to edge Bethune-Cookman 5-4 in both team's season openers.

Arizona State's ace starter Trevor Williams took the mound, after former ASU star hurler, Brady Rodgers, threw out the first pitch.

Scoring commenced in the third when ASU sophomore Drew Stankiewicz hit his first career homerun to give the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead. The Wildcats countered in the fourth, scoring two runs of their own. Williams saw his final inning of the night in the fifth, where a Wildcat sac-fly led to another run, giving them a 3-1 lead.

Over five innings, Williams struck out four and allowed three runs, including two earned, on four hits.

Freshman Ryan Burr relieved Williams in the sixth and left the Wildcats scoreless. In the bottom of the sixth, ASU fought back. Kasey Coffman led off the inning with a single and a stolen base. Bethune-Cookman pitcher Montana Durapau walked Trevor Allen, giving the Sun Devils a man on first and second with no outs. James McDonald hit a double to deep center, bringing ASU one run closer to the Wildcats. Next up was catcher Max Rossiter, who hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Allen.

Burr was back in for the Sun Devils in the seventh. He went three-up, three-down. Overall, Burr kicked off his college career pitching two innings in relief and allowing just one base runner while striking out three.

Freshman Brett Lilek made his Sun Devil debut in the eighth inning. The lefty had a strong first inning, only allowing three pop-ups. Another three-up, three-down inning for the hosts.

The game remained tied until Eros Modena of Bethune-Cookman scored on a Lilek wild pitch in the top of the ninth. However, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Drew Stankiewicz, Michael Benjamin, and Kasey Coffman piled on the hits. Coffman's single scored Stankiewicz; tying up the game. A grounder by Trever Allen sent the game into extra innings.

Lilek produced another three-up, three-down inning, giving his team a chance to get the walk-off in the tenth, but they couldn't cash in on a single by Rossiter.

Senior Matt Dunbar entered the game in the eleventh, looking to shut down the Wildcats. Dunbar allowed one hit and got one strikeout, pitching a scoreless eleventh inning.

The Tempe air became chillier and the crowd became even more restless by the bottom of the eleventh, but both dugouts wouldn't give up. After a flyout from Rouric Bridgewater, Stankiewicz reached first on a passed ball. Michael Benjamin was walked in the ensuing at bat.

Ultimately, Kasey Coffman hit the aforementioned walk-off, scoring Stankiewicz, and giving the Sun Devils their first win of the season. Dunbar was awarded another game to add to his win column.

The big bats of the night were Stankiewicz and Coffman. Getting his first major start of his career, Stankiewicz went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and a RBI. Coffman hit both the game-tying hit in the ninth, and the game-winning hit in the eleventh.

How did Stankiewicz feel about his big night? "It was awesome." said the smiling shortstop.

"I really liked the way our guys kept playing tonight." said ASU Head Coach Tim Esmay, "They didn't give in and they gave us some really good at-bats late. We had some good pitching by Dunbar to come in and shut that down. It was a good start."

Both teams face off again Saturday at 1 p.m. Left-handed pitcher Adam McCreery will take the mound for the Sun Devils (1-0) and lefty Ali Simpson will pitch for Bethune-Cookman (0-1).

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