With two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch stepped into the batter’s box to take a swing at his alma mater Arizona State.
Two strikes later, he sent the ball between second and third base and dashed for first.
On Opening Day. Of the Cactus League.
On a mild cloudy Tuesday in March, the Diamondbacks welcomed Arizona State to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz., to play a friendly game between metro Phoenix’s MLB team and its major college squad.
Among the participants were former Sun Devils Gosewisch and Jake Barrett. And while they no longer don the maroon and gold, both players reminisced about their college days.
Gosewisch played for ASU from 2000-2002, following after his brother Chip, who influenced Tuffy’s decision to become a Sun Devil.
“He had the same coaches I did,” Gosewisch said. “I got inside info on how practices were and what the environment was like. It was huge for me to have that in my back pocket going into college.
And whether it was with Jeff Larish, Dustin Pedroia or others on the team, Gosewisch did “whatever college kids do.”
Today’s “college kids” — or ASU’s baseball team, at least — got to compete against a major league team. In fact, the meeting begins the Diamondbacks’ six-year cycle playing Arizona’s three Division I teams.
The Diamondbacks won the game 4-0, although they had just a 7-6 advantage in hits over their college-level opponent.
ASU junior infielder Chris Beall said from the time the Sun Devils stepped off the bus to when they walked onto the field the Diamondbacks have treated them like a professional team. Swinging with wooden bats at big league balls has been different but fun, he said.
“It feels good to be on a big league field like this doing the thing we love,” Beall said.
His teammate, senior pitcher Darin Gillies, said he doesn’t think anybody on the Sun Devils would be out in uniform unless they wanted to make it to the big leagues. They’ve been dreaming about that opportunity since they were kids.
“It’s awesome to come out here and strap it up against those guys and see the way they carry themselves,” Gillies said. “Hopefully we can repeat those and maybe be in their shoes one day at a beautiful place like this.”
Gillies and Beall played with Barrett during his Sun Devil career from 2010 to 2012. And though Barrett is off competing in the big leagues, he still keeps up with his friends, including hunting with Gillies in the offseason.
Barrett’s highlight as a Sun Devil: traveling to Omaha and playing in the College World Series in 2010.
Now Barrett sits in the dugout opposite his alma mater. And though it was an exhibition game, the pitcher said the experience is something the Sun Devils should take advantage of.
“When you get the chance just learn a few things and talk to a couple of players before the game,” he said.
And Barrett’s advice to his former team?
Christopher Caraveo is a Master of Journalism and Mass Communication student. This story is a part of a partnership between ArizonaSports.com and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.