ASU baseball drops series finale with No. 19 Tennessee

TEMPE, Ariz. — Sophomore designated hitter had four RBI for 24th-ranked Arizona State on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough for the Sun Devils in a 6-4 loss to No. 19 in the series finale in front of 2,609 fans at Packard Stadium.

Ybarra went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer in the first inning, and sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald reached base four times on two singles and a pair of walks to lead the Sun Devils (7-6).

ASU starting right-hander Darin Gillies allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out a pair in 4 1/3 innings. He retired the side in the first inning, including a three-pitch strikeout to start the game, but was chased with one out and a runner on second in the top of the fifth.

Ybarra knocked a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the first inning to give the Devils an early 2-0 lead and extend his team-high hitting streak to 10 games. His first home run of the season, the sixth of his career, scored Allen from second after he had reached base on a fielder’s choice and advanced on a wild pitch.

The Vols (14-1) countered in the top of the second with an RBI single by first baseman Nathaniel Maggio following a leadoff base hit and a walk. Three hits and a double steal by Tennessee in the next inning put the Vols ahead 3-2, as designated hitter Nick Senzel tied the game with an RBI single and reached third on a base hit before he stole home for the go-ahead run.

Sewald took a leadoff walk in the third frame, his second of the game, and stole second base, advanced to third on a fly ball to right field and came home on an RBI groundout by Ybarra to even the score at 3-3.

Tennessee went ahead 6-3 in the top of the sixth and never relinquished its lead. They started the inning with a double, single and a stolen base, and drove both runners home in the next two at-bats on an RBI groundout and a run-scoring single. ASU sophomore right-hander Eric Melbostad was replaced by redshirt freshman left-hander Nick Diamond with one out in the frame, and Diamond hit the first batter he faced to load the bases before walking in the third run of the inning.

ASU cut its deficit to 6-4 in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI groundout by Ybarra that plated Sewald, who had hit a two-out single and moved to second on a hit batter.

Melbostad (1-1) was responsible for all three runs in the sixth inning and took his first loss of the season. Diamond gave up two hits and one walk in 1 1/3 innings.

Freshman right-hander Hever Bueno took the mound in the eighth inning and conceded just one walk and no hits across a pair of frames. He retired the first three batters he faced in the eighth and induced a double play and a flyout to strand one runner on base in the ninth.

Tennessee left-hander Josh Peterson (1-0) earned his first win of the year with 2 1/3 shutout innings, and right-hander Andy Cox (1) registered the save with a pair of scoreless frames. Starting right-hander Kyle Serrano was pulled after three innings and took a no-decision. He conceded three runs on one hit and three walks while striking out a pair.