Sun Devils defeat Ducks, come back to win series

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

TEMPE, Ariz -- A five-run first inning and a masterful pitching performance from Darin Gillies led the Arizona State baseball team to seal a series win over the No. 12 Oregon Ducks, as the Sun Devils defeated the Ducks, 8-2 on Mother’s Day.

An eventful Arizona State (26-21, 14-10 Pac-12) bottom of the first started with right fielder Jake Peevyhouse’s double that drove home center fielder Johnny Sewald. The next batter, designated hitter RJ Ybarra, reached on an error by Oregon (36-16, 14-10 Pac-12) shortstop Mark Karaviotis, moving Peevyhouse to third base. First baseman Nathaniel Causey singled home Peevyhouse, and catcher Brian Serven followed with a double that scored Ybarra. With two outs, left fielder Chris Beall smacked a two-RBI single to right field, bringing the score to 5-0 after one.

The Sun Devils scored twice more on a Peevyhouse fielder’s choice in the second and an Ybarra single through the left side in the fourth. The run support gave Gillies (2-4, 4.62 ERA) all the confidence he needed, as he proceeded to throw six innings of two-hit baseball. He controlled the lower and outside edges of the strike zone, and allowed one unearned run and five walks while striking out three Ducks en route to his second win of the season and his first since February 27.

“We haven’t pitched well on days we’ve hit well, and on the day’s we’ve pitched well, we haven’t really hit,” noted Gillies. “And this weekend, you saw a combination of both. It all worked this weekend, so it’s our job to continue on that to the postseason.”

For the third time this series, Oregon’s starting pitcher did not last more than five innings. This time around, right-hander Brando Tessar (4-1, 2.81) lasted 3.2 innings, surrendering ten hits and seven runs (four earned) while striking out two Devils.

Peevyhouse saw a big difference between last weekend’s winless series at Big 12 leader Oklahoma State and this weekend’s games against another perennial Pac-12 contender. “At Oklahoma State, we were trying way to hard to win instead of just going out and doing what the game’s dictating and just having fun with it like we did this weekend,” he said. “When we play our type of baseball, I know we can beat anyone in the country.”

Gillies threw five unscathed innings but allowed one run in the top of the sixth on a passed ball. In relief, righty Jordan Aboites gave up a wind-propelled home run to right field by Ducks second baseman Aaron Payne, making the score 7-2 after seven innings. But Sewald got one run back with a single to left scoring Serven, and the score was 8-2 after seven.

Sun Devils closer Ryan Burr entered for the ninth inning and gave up three runs via two one-RBI singles and a walk, all with the bases loaded. Righty Eder Erives came in to clean up the mess with one out, and allowed one run on a fielder’s choice before getting AJ Balta to pop out to Stankiewicz. The save was Erives’ first of the season.

Causey led the Sun Devils with a 3-for-5, one-RBI day at the dish. Serven went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, and Beall and Peevyhouse each went 1-for-4 with two RBIs.

For the second game in a row and the 14thdid not commit an error. Sunday was also the fourth time Arizona State eclipsed the 15-hit mark in a game.

“That was about as pure as we’ve played on Sunday in a long time,” Esmay said after the game. “Defensively, pitching, offensively, we just kept delivering blows and kept coming at them. I was very proud of the way our guys went out there today in a game that we’ll look down the road at and say, ‘That was a must-win.’”

Not only did the Sun Devils battle back in the series, but Sunday’s win tied them with Oregon for third place in the Pac-12. Now, the team gets one day off before heading to Las Vegas to face UNLV (30-19, 17-9 Mountain West) on Tuesday. First pitch in Vegas is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST time this season, the Sun Devils defense