TEMPE, Ariz. -- It started as a tightly contested rubber match for the weekend series, but Sunday’s tilt between No. 18 Arizona State and Baylor turned ugly quick for the Bears. A nine-run sixth inning for the Sun Devils propelled them to a cool 12-1 victory.
Head coach Tim Esmay continued to tinker with his lineup, as sophomores Cullen O’Dwyer and Christopher Beall got their first career collegiate starts in left and right field respectively. O’Dwyer ended the day going 0-for-2 with a walk, while Beall was 2-for-5 with two runs batted in.
The Sun Devils scored once in the bottom of the second on an error by Bears second baseman Lawton Langford. Beall hit a ground ball to Langford that should have resulted in an inning-ending double play, but Langford botched it, allowing Brian Serven to score from second. That was Baylor’s eighth error of the weekend and Langford’s fourth, with his previous three coming at shortstop on Friday.
Baylor countered four innings later in the top of the sixth, when third baseman Duncan Wendel singled to right, scoring Grayson Porter from second.
The tie did not last long, as Arizona State exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the sixth. With no outs and two runners on base, Beall singled home Serven from second, and second baseman Tucker Esmay singled to clear the bases with a little help from a Darryn Sheppard error in left field. The next hitter, center fielder Johnny Sewald, tripled down the right field line, bringing in Esmay and increasing the lead to four. Sewald would score two batters later on a DiNatale single through the left side of the Baylor infield.
Later in the inning, Brian Serven doubled to right with the bases loaded, plating two more Sun Devils. After O’Dwyer was hit by a Joe Kirkland pitch to load the bases again, Beall collected his second career RBI on a single to right, and Tucker Esmay followed with another, making the score 10-1 when the inning was over.
Arizona State continued the scoring next inning, when Cooper Esmay knocked an RBI double to left-center. The youngest Esmay was tagged out advancing to third. Zach Cerbo followed with an RBI triple to deep right field. Those at-bats were the first of their time at ASU.
Arizona State’s pitching looked much like it did in yesterday’s victory. Sophomore southpaw Brett Lilek threw four strong innings in his first start since Feb. 28 of last year. Lilek gave up no runs, two hits and a walk while striking out seven. Coach Esmay said Lilek’s pitch count would fall right around 60, and Lilek did just that, firing 67 pitches.
“I felt pretty good, pretty confident and loose,” assessed Lilek. “I got to see what Ryan [Burr] and [Ryan] Kellogg did the past two outings, so I knew if I just did what they did, I would put my team in a good place to win.”
Lilek’s opposition, junior RHP Austin Stone, also fared well on the mound. Stone walked five batters, but Baylor played enough defense behind him to allow just one run. He finished the day with two hits, one run and three strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
Arizona State’s defense proved to be extra stingy after defensive miscues on both sides led to unwanted runs the first two games. The Sun Devils did not record an error all day, due in large part to Serven’s command of the fielders as catcher. The freshman succeeded at the plate as well, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs and three hits. With Nate Causey yet to assume catching duties, Serven has used this weekend to climb up a wrung on the depth chart.
“We need [Serven] to command the pitching staff…and I thought he did that really well this weekend,” said Esmay.
Serven also appeared in yesterday’s win, recording his first collegiate RBI to start the scoring. “I thought that he showed some maturity back there, that he handled our guys well,” Esmay added. “I’m excited about him.”
The Sun Devils get just one day off before taking the field on Tuesday against New Mexico. First pitch is set for 6:30pm MST at Packard.