Sun Devil baseball blows five-run lead, drop season opener

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State was not feeling the love this Valentine’s Day as the No. 18 Sun Devils lost their season opener against Baylor by a score of 9-7.

The scoring started in the bottom of the first when Trever Allen took the first pitch he saw over the left field wall, giving the Devils an early 1-0 lead. 

With the bases loaded in the top of the third, Bears DH Grayson Porter was hit by a Ryan Burr pitch, earning an easy run batted in and tying the game at one.

The score would stay the same until the sixth inning, when Baylor picked up one run on a Darin Gillies wild pitch and Arizona State scored two off of errors by Bears SS Lawton Langford.

Then the scoring really picked up. The Sun Devils went on to add four more runs in the bottom of the seventh. A Nate Causey groundout scored Drew Stankiewicz from third, and a third error by Langford allowed Allen to score three batters later. Dalton DiNatale later drove in two runs on an outfield single to right, and the score was 7-2 after seven.

Baylor fought back to score three runs in the next frame, making the game 7-5 Devils. But Baylor saved their biggest offensive explosion for the top of the ninth, as Porter hit a two-run shot to left to tie the game and Duncan Wendel knocked a single to right, which Allen booted, allowing the winning run to cross the plate. The Bears would add another run and shut down Arizona State’s last three batters to capture the victory.

This was Arizona State’s first loss in an opening game in eight years.

“In college baseball, I don’t think you ever have the game in hand,” said head coach Tim Esmay of the team’s blown lead. “I thought we were getting good at-bats. Weplayed really good defense up until the eighth, so I thought we were playing pretty well at that point.”

In his first collegiate start, sophomore RHP Ryan Burr exited early after throwing 96 pitches in four innings. Burr surrendered two hits, one run (earned) and three walks while striking out five batters and hitting two others with a pitch. Bears starter RHP Dillon Newman pitched slightly longer, going 4.1 innings with three strikeouts and giving up six hits, one run and one walk.

Allen was the Devils’ top offensive performer, going 3-for-5 with a home run

The Sun Devils made a questionable decision in the ninth before Porter hit the game-tying home run. LHP Nick Diamond was left in the game to face Porter, a righty; RHP Hever Bueno was up in the bullpen but was not warm enough, according to Esmay. Bueno was brought in immediately after Porter’s round tripper. 

Arizona State will start LHP Ryan Kellogg tomorrow night against Bears lefty Brad Kuntz. Kellogg was 11-1 in the Saturday spot last season. First pitch is set for 1pm MST.