ASU baseball finishes sweep to reach 30-win mark

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State baseball team clinched the program’s nation-leading 52nd consecutive 30-win season behind a 14-6 victory over Utah on Sunday for a three-game series sweep at Packard Stadium.

The Sun Devils (30-21, 17-10) closed out the final conference series in Packard Stadium history with a victory, extended their winning streak to six games for the first time since 2012 and improving to 7-2 in their past nine conference games.

The baseball program’s streak of 30-win seasons began in 1963 and is two more than the next closest in Division I, held by Florida State. The Sun Devils have never had a losing season in their 56 years, and three head coaches (Jim Brock, Pat Murphy and Tim Esmay) have never won fewer than 30 games.

ASU jumped out to a quick 6-1 advantage behind three unearned runs in the opening frame and a three-run homer by designated hitter RJ Ybarra in the second, but the Utes (16-33, 4-23) responded with five in the top of the third to knot the game at six runs apiece. ASU countered with three runs in the bottom of the frame and never ceded the lead as they added five more over the final four innings.

Ybarra tallied a three-run homer, his first career triple and four RBI, and center fielder Johnny Sewald went 3 for 4 with three runs scored and a pair of RBI. Shortstop Drew Stankiewicz added three hits, including his third home run of the season, and third baseman Dalton DiNatale collected three hits and scored two runs.

Right-hander Seth Martinez (5-0) picked up his fifth win of the season and a quintet of right-handed relievers followed with five scoreless innings. Eric Melbostad struck out a pair in the fifth, Cory Bernard and Eder Erives each allowed just one hit in the sixth and seventh, Jordan Aboites recorded two strikeouts in the eighth and Ryan Burr caught the final batter of the game swinging.

Sewald, who singled to lead off the first and moved to third on a stolen bag and a base hit from Stankiewicz, was caught in a rundown on a soft grounder by Ybarra but Utah catcher AJ Young dropped the ball on the tag to allow the first run to score. First baseman Nate Causey followed with a RBI groundout and a fielding error by Utes second baseman Kody Davis put ASU up by three, 3-0.

A pair of errors by ASU and a RBI single from Utah right fielder Josh Rose cut the Devils’ advantage to two in the top of the second, but Ybarra recorded his 40th RBI of the season with a three-run homer to left field in the bottom of the frame to put ASU ahead, 6-1.

The Utes drove in five runs on just one hit and four walks in the top of the third to tie the game at six runs apiece. They loaded the bases with three straight walks to start the third inning and erased the Devils’ five-run lead with a sacrifice fly, a run-scoring wild pitch and a three-run homer.

ASU broke the 6-6 tie with three runs in the bottom of the third on a throwing error by Utah, a RBI single from second baseman Tucker Esmay and a passed ball. The Devils added two in the fifth on Stankiewicz’s solo home run and a RBI groundout from Ybarra, and Sewald added a sacrifice fly in the sixth before he drove in a run-scoring single to right field in the eighth and Stankiewicz followed with a RBI double down the left-field line.

Starting right-hander Darin Gillies allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 innings but walked four batters in the third and was replaced by Martinez.

Utah left-hander Dylan Drachler (1-2) took the loss after he gave up three runs, including two earned, on three hits in the third inning. Starting right-hander Dalton Carroll conceded six runs, including three earned, on five hits in a pair of innings in a no-decision.