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Struggles continue for ASU baseball in California road trip

(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)

The Arizona State baseball team (3-4) dropped two-of-three this past weekend on a trip through the Golden State. The Sun Devils lost their Friday and Saturday matchups against Long Beach State, 11-0, and UC Irvine, 5-2, respectively, though were able to salvage the trip on Sunday with a 7-2 victory over Wright State.

Starting pitcher Ryan Burr took the loss on Friday, his first of the season, after he again struggled to find the strike zone. He allowed six runs on two hits and four walks. There was nothing going at the plate for ASU as they managed only seven hits on the day and did not score a run.

Sophomore left-hander Ryan Kellogg took only his second career loss on Sunday. He tossed four consecutive scoreless innings after a rough first, though his four runs and 10 hits allowed were too much for the Sun Devil offense to match.

Two career marks paced ASU on Sunday to lead them to their third victory of the season. Left-hander Brett Lilek earned the win after going a career-long six innings, striking out five and allowing two runs on two hits along the way. Dalton DiNatale led the way on offense for the Sun Devils with three RBI, matching his career high.

Player of the series: RJ Ybarra, C/DH

Ybarra, a sophomore catcher out of Riverside, Calif., was the only Sun Devil to hit safely in each of the weekend’s matchups. He finished the weekend 5-for-11 with one RBI. Head coach Tim Esmay made it clear that Ybarra will be a fixture in the ASU lineup when he slotted him at DH for two of the games when freshman catcher Brian Serven was put behind the plate. Ybarra now leads the team in batting average (.400) and is second in total bases (10).

Biggest concern: Command on the mound 

The pitching staff’s struggles to consistently find the strike zone are bogging down otherwise solid pitching performances. Burr has allowed only two hits in each of his first two outings, though his seven walks in 6.1 innings are not ideal. The same goes for Zak Miller, who has given up five walks in six innings, and Darin Gillies, with four walks in seven and a third. Burr has shown that he has the upper hand on most batters he faces, but too many free passes will be the downfall of any pitcher.

Unsung hero: Brett Lilek, SP

Lilek came in to salvage the weekend and did just that. He has now allowed just four hits and struck out 12 in 10 innings on the season. The sophomore, regarded before the season as the team’s no. 3 starter, has performed more like the ace. He has managed to come in on consecutive Sundays, days usually known for offensive output, and shut down the opposing lineups.

What’s next:

The Sun Devils head to Surprise, Ariz. for four games this weekend (Thurs.-Sun.) against non-conference opponents for the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic. ASU is set to face Santa Clara on Thursday, Gonzaga on Friday, Oklahoma on Saturday, and Oklahoma State on Sunday. Each matchup is scheduled to start approximately at 4:30 p.m. The games will be played at Surprise Stadium, the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals.

You can reach Brett Deckert on Twitter @Brett_Deckert or via email at

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