TEMPE, Ariz. — Sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald started a two-out rally in the eighth inning and junior first baseman Nate Causey finished it with an RBI single to help the 25th-ranked Arizona State baseball team secure a 5-3 series-opening win over USC on Friday night in front of 3,255 fans at Packard Stadium.
The Sun Devils (16-11, 6-4) took a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning before the Trojans (14-14, 3-7) tied it with a pair of runs in top half of the frame, but ASU responded with two of their own in the bottom of the eighth to earn its sixth win in its past seven games.
Sewald knocked a two-out single to left field to start the Sun Devils’ eighth inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen took a walk in the next at-bat to bring up Causey, who put the Sun Devils ahead for good. Freshman catcher Brian Serven followed with an RBI single to give ASU a two-run lead, 5-3.
Sophomore right-hander Ryan Burr (3-2) closed out the victory in the top of the ninth to earn his third win of the season, including the second since he moved back to the bullpen March 7. Burr took the mound in the eighth with one out and the bases loaded, and surrendered an RBI fielder’s choice and threw a wild pitch that brought home the tying run.
Starting sophomore left-hander Brett Lilek scattered four hits and one run across 5.2 innings and left with a two-run lead, but took a no-decision. He struck out four and now has 41 strikeouts on the year. Sophomore right-hander Jordan Aboites was responsible for the runs in the eighth and allowed three hits in 1.2 relief innings.
Lilek worked himself out of a pair of jams in the first and fifth innings to keep ASU’s lead intact. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first to begin his outing, but induced an inning-ending double play to escape the early threat. The Trojans put runners on the corners in the top of the fifth with a single, two wild pitches and a walk, but Lilek secured a flyout to center field to strand the pair.
Junior left fielder Jake Peevyhouse drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the first, and the Sun Devils extended their lead to three in the third inning on a two-run single by junior second baseman Drew Stankiewicz after Causey and Serven each walked to lead off the frame.
USC used a leadoff walk and a one-out single to once again threaten in the top of the sixth. However, Lilek fielded a bunt by second baseman Dante Flores and caught the lead runner in a rundown on the third-base line for the second out of the inning. Aboites took over in the next at-bat and enticed Trojans right fielder Vahn Bozolan to chase a 1-2 pitch and end the frame with a swinging strikeout.
USC left-hander Marc Huberman (0-1) took his first loss of the season and starting right-hander Wyatt Strahan took a no-decision after he allowed three runs on six hits and walked five in six innings.