Arizona State edges USC, takes sixth of last seven

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona State baseball team won their sixth game of the last seven on Friday night at Packard Stadium, as the No. 25 Sun Devils defeated the USC Trojans, 5-3.

 
Sun Devils starting pitcher Brett Lilek took the mound to kick off an eight-game home stand, seven of which against Pac-12 opponents. Lilek (3-2, 2.18 ERA) did not earn a decision in a 100-pitch outing that lasted 5.2 innings. The lefty game up four hits, one earned run and four walks while striking out four.
 
In the bottom of the first, Arizona State took an early lead after a Jake Peevyhouse sacrifice fly to center field scored Trever Allen. The Sun Devils recorded two more runs in the bottom of the third, as consecutive walks to start the frame set up a Dew Stankiewicz two-RBI single.  
 
The Trojans got one back the next inning, when two sac bunts brought around Jeremy Martinez, who had been hit by a Lilek pitch to start the inning.  
 
Right-hander Jordan Aboites came on to relieve Lilek in the sixth inning. Aboites inherited runners on second and third from Lilek in the sixth, but got out of the jam with a strikeout. He then went another 1.1 innings, allowing three hits and two runs and leaving the bases loaded for a five-out close from Ryan Burr.
 
The first batter Burr faced, Trojans second baseman Dante Flores, hit a fly ball to shallow right. Stankiewicz, the second baseman, and Allen, the right fielder, converged on the ball, and the back-pedaling Stankiewicz was unable to make the catch. He recovered, getting the force out at second, but one run scored for USC.  One batter later, a Burr wild pitch brought another Trojan run across the plate, tying the game at three.
 
The Sun Devils quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs and two runners on base, first baseman Nathaniel Causey singled to center, bringing center fielder Johnny Sewald home to take the lead.  It was Causey’s first RBI in conference play this season. Catcher Brian Serven’s single to left scored Allen immediately after, and gave Burr the run support he needed to shut the game down.
 
Arizona State head coach Tim Esmay was satisfied with the win, but knows there were missed chances that would have made this game less close than it really was.
 
“We let them hang around. We had an opportunity early; we left six guys on base in the first two innings. We really had a chance to bust that thing open,” said Esmay. “But, like I said, nobody’s waving a white flag in this conference. They’re going to keep coming after you.”  
 
The Sun Devils have not won a Pac-12 series at home yet this season, as they dropped a three-game series to Washington on March 14-16. They look to do so tomorrow as left-hander Ryan Kellogg (3-2, 4.25) duels Trojans left-hander (2-3, 3.67), with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PST.