TEMPE, Ariz. - Sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald started a two-out rally in the eighth inning and junior first baseman Nate Causey finished it with an RBI single to help the 25th-ranked Arizona State University baseball team secure a 5-3 series-opening win over USC on Friday night in front of 3,255 fans at Packard Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
The Sun Devils (16-11, 6-4) took a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning before the Trojans (14-14, 3-7) tied it with a pair of runs in top half of the frame, but ASU responded with two of their own in the bottom of the eighth to earn its sixth win in its past seven games.
Sewald knocked a two-out single to left field to start the Devils’ eighth inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen took a walk in the next at-bat to bring up Causey, who put the Devils ahead for good. Freshman catcher Brian Serven followed with an RBI single to give ASU a two-run lead, 5-3.
Sophomore right-hander Ryan Burr (3-2) closed out the victory in the top of the ninth to earn his third win of the season, including the second since he moved back to the bullpen March 7. Burr took the mound in the eighth with one out and the bases loaded, and surrendered an RBI fielder’s choice and threw a wild pitch that brought home the tying run.
Starting sophomore left-hander Brett Lilek scattered four hits and one run across 5 2/3 innings and left with a two-run lead, but took a no-decision. He struck out four and now has 41 strikeouts on the year. Sophomore right-hander Jordan Aboites was responsible for the runs in the eighth and allowed three hits in 1 2/3 relief innings.
Lilek worked himself out of a pair of jams in the first and fifth innings to keep ASU’s lead intact. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first to begin his outing, but induced a 5-3 inning-ending double play to escape the early threat. The Trojans put runners on the corners in the top of the fifth with a single, two wild pitches and a walk, but Lilek secured a flyout to center field to strand the pair.
Junior left fielder Jake Peevyhouse drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the first, and the Devils extended their lead to three in the third inning on a two-run single by junior second baseman Drew Stankiewicz after Causey and Serven each walked to lead off the frame.
USC used a leadoff walk and a one-out single to once again threaten in the top of the sixth. However, Lilek fielded a bunt by second baseman Dante Flores and caught the lead runner in a rundown on the third-base line for the second out of the inning. Aboites took over in the next at-bat and enticed Trojans right fielder Vahn Bozolan to chase a 1-2 pitch and end the frame with a swinging strikeout.
USC left-hander Marc Huberman (0-1) took his first loss of the season and starting right-hander Wyatt Strahan took a no-decision after he allowed three runs on six hits and walked five in six innings.
The Devils moved to 103-97 all-time against USC…coach Esmay now has 397 career wins, including 184 at ASU…ASU has won 12 consecutive home games over USC.
Arizona State continues its three-game series against USC at 6:30 pm PT on April 5 at Packard Stadium. The game will be streamed online via the Sun Devils’ Pac-12.com channel and will be broadcast on NBC Sports AM 1060 by Tim Healey (PxP, @TimHealeyASU) and Seth Dhaenens (color, @sethdhaenens). Live stats will also be available on thesundevils.com.
USC: LHP Bob Wheatley (2-3, 3.67 ERA)
ASU: LHP Ryan Kellogg (3-2, 4.25 ERA)
Visit azcentral.com to vote for the All-Packard Team or fill out a ballot on gameday at Packard Stadium to make your choice for the best to wear the Maroon and Gold in the past 40 years
Season tickets starting at $99, single-game tickets, Mini Packs and Flex Plans are on sale now. Admission for ASU students is free with a valid Sun Card. Purchasing season tickets will also give fans first opportunity and priority at selecting seats at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 2015. Ariz.
Join the conversation all season using the hashtag #OccupyPackard