TEMPE, Ariz. - The 25th-ranked Arizona State University baseball team fell just shy of completing a five-run rally in the latter third of the game and dropped the series finale against USC, 8-7, on Sunday in front of 2,683 fans at Packard Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
The Sun Devils (17-12, 7-5) trailed 8-3 after six innings before sophomore RJ Ybarra capped off a two-out, seventh-inning rally with a pinch-hit, bases-clearing double to pull ASU within a pair, 8-6. Sophomore third baseman Dalton DiNatale followed with a solo home run over the right-field fence on the first pitch he faced to lead off the bottom of the eighth to make it a one-run game.
ASU put the tying run on base twice in the final two innings, but were unable to drive home the equalizer. Sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald singled and moved to third on a single by junior first baseman Nate Causey in the eighth, but was stranded there after an inning-ending groundout. Ybarra reached first on a throwing error with one out in the ninth, but a flyout and an infield pop ended the rally.
The Trojans (15-15, 4-8) notched a pair of runs in each of the first three innings to take an early 6-3 lead, and added two in the fifth, before freshman right-hander Seth Martinez and sophomore right-hander Eric Melbostad combined to hold the Trojans scoreless over the final four innings. Melbostad retired seven consecutive batters in the final third of the game and allowed just one base runner across 2 2/3 innings.
USC scored a pair of unearned runs on three hits and a fielding error by DiNatale to jump ahead 2-0 in the top of the first, but ASU responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame to erase their early deficit. Sewald led off the first with a walk and scored on three wild pitches, and sophomore designated hitter Chris Beall and DiNatale each notched RBI singles to plate redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen and freshman catcher Brian Serven, who both reached base via walks.
Center fielder Omar Cotto hit an RBI triple and third baseman Kevin Swick followed with a run-scoring double to help USC retake the lead in the second, 4-3. Designated hitter Garrett Stubbs added a two-run single in the third frame and catcher Jeremy Martinez and second baseman Dante Flores each drove in a run in the fifth to stretch their advantage to five.
Causey, junior left fielder Jake Peevyhouse and Serven each hit consecutive two-out singles to load the bases for Ybarra in the eighth inning, who doubled to drive home all three Devils and tally his eighth RBI in the past two games.
Starting junior right-hander Darin Gillies (1-2) was chased with two outs and two runners on base in the top of the third inning. He was responsible for six runs, including four earned, on nine hits and three walks, and struck out four, in the loss. Redshirt senior right-hander Zak Miller replaced Gillies in the top of the third and scattered two outs across 1 1/3 innings.
USC right-hander Brooks Kriske (1-0) scattered two hits across 5 2/3 innings to earn his first win of the season, and right-hander Kyle Davis (3) registered a six-out save. Starting right-hander Nigel Nootbaar walked three of the first four batters he faced and threw three wild pitches before he was pulled with runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the first.
The Devils moved to 104-98 all-time against USC…ASU is 11-5 in all-time series’ against the Trojans.
Arizona State hosts four games against Pac-12 Conference teams at Packard Stadium April 9-13. The Devils take on Arizona in the second and final non-conference Territorial Cup game on April 9 at 6:30 p.m., and host a three-game Pac-12 series April 11-13 against Cal. All four games 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.
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