OZARK, Ala. — Ken Nesbitt just kept throwing, and throwing and throwing ...
Eventually, he threw the ASU baseball team past Miles in Thursday’s opening round of the conference baseball tournament.
Nesbitt was on the mound for 10 innings and tossed 190 pitches to lead the No. 4 seeded Rams past No. 3 Miles, 10-9 in 10 innings.
“When I came out, I knew I was at a lot of pitches,” Nesbitt said. “I thought I was at 120 or 130, but my dad told me I threw 190. I was star-struck for the first 10 minutes.”
It was the second 10-inning game this season for Nesbitt.
“It’s the tournament, and this is my last year,” Nesbitt said. “I will do whatever I have to do, even if that means I have to throw my arm out.”
The Rams are trying to get back to the championship game for the second year in a row, and Thursday’s win advances them to the second round to face No. 1 seed Claflin — a team ASU was 2-1 against in the regular season.
On Thursday, ASU scored two runs in the ninth inning to send the game into extra inning and then scored three more in the 10th inning.
There were some clutch hits in those final two innings — but nobody was as clutch as Nesbitt, who kept telling his coach he didn’t need to come out.
“He said, ‘I’m not coming out coach, I feel great,’ ” ASU coach Kenyan Conner said.
Nesbitt wasn’t going anywhere.
“After I got to 100 pitches, he was asking me (if I needed to come out) every inning,” Nesbitt said. “The whole season I tell him when I am ready to go out. He knows when I say I am done, I am done. I wasn’t done.”
And neither are the Rams.
They entered the top of the ninth trailing by two runs, but sophomore Rickey Harris hit a two-run single that tied it at 7-7.
Nesbitt pitched a flawless bottom of the ninth, and the game went into the 10th, where Corbin Williams hit a two-run triple and Eddie Mathis drove in Williams on a sacrifice fly.
Nesbitt allowed two runs in the bottom of the 10th, but stranded the tying run on third base to send the Rams into the next round.
“These kids didn’t want to give up,” Conner said. “We tied it up in the ninth because we were patient, and then in the 10th we won it. When we got those runs in the ninth, we took the momentum.”
And ASU will take that momentum into today’s game with Demonzio Stubbs on the mound.
“It was an emotional game,” said Nesbitt, who added he could get back on the mound for the championship game Sunday. “With the way we fought back and battled, this gives us emotion going into the next couple of days.”
CONFERENCE AWARDS: Harris and reigning conference Player of the Year William Smalls were named to the All-Conference team on Thursday.
Stillman’s Jarius Brown was named the Player of the Year.