ASU baseball's rally comes up just short
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The 16th-ranked Arizona State baseball team rallied from a five-run deficit to get within one but couldn't complete the comeback Sunday in a 7-6 loss to Bethune Cookman in the series finale.
The Sun Devils (2-1) trailed 6-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning but tallied runs in three of the next five frames, including two in the seventh, to close the gap to one run. Catcher Max Rossiter singled in the ninth to put the tying run on base, but pinch runner Kyle Bilbrey was thrown out at third trying to take an extra base on a single by designated hitter Nate Causey.
Rossiter and third baseman Michael Benjamin each recorded a pair of RBIs, and the ASU bullpen scattered four hits and two runs across eight innings in another strong showing.
Right-hander Alex Blackford allowed one earned run on three hits and struck out three in four innings, left-hander Brett Lilektook the mound in the sixth inning and surrendered one run on one hit over three frames, and left-hander Matt Dunbarpitched a scoreless ninth.
Six walks, including five consecutive to lead off the frame, and four wild pitches in the top of the second inning contributed to five runs for the Wildcats (1-2). ASU right-hander Darin Gillies (0-1) was chased from the game with no outs in the inning after he allowed five earned runs on zero hits and was replaced by Blackford, who retired three of the next four hitters to escape the frame.
First baseman Rouric Bridgewater and shortstop Drew Stankiewicz hit back-to-back doubles with two outs in the bottom of the second to get the Devils on the board and make it 5-1.
Bethune-Cookman added a run in the top of the third on a triple and a sacrifice fly to take a 6-1 advantage, but ASU countered in the bottom of the frame with an RBI double by second baseman James McDonald that scored left fielder Kasey Coffman, who had reached base on a single.
Benjamin lined a two-run single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth after consecutive base hits by Bridgewater and Stankiewicz to bring ASU within two at 6-4.
A two-run ground-rule double by Rossiter then scored right fielder Trever Allen and Benjamin from second and third, respectively, as ASU cut the deficit to 7-6.
Wildcats starter Scott Garner (1-0) earned the win after giving up six runs, including five earned, on seven hits while striking out six in 6 1/3 innings. Right-hander Jordan Dailey recorded the save after closing out the final 2 1/3 innings.
ASU next travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee in a three-game series. First pitch on Friday is set for 3 p.m., while both weekend contests are slated for an 11 a.m. start.