(Photo: ASU Athletics)
The Arizona State baseball team fell 3-2 to Pepperdine to open up Regional play in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, as Wave starter Corey Miller tossed 7.1 innings of three-hit baseball.
The Sun Devils entered Friday averaging over 12 hits per game in their last 10 games, but Miller silenced the scorching ASU offense. All that was mustered up by the Sun Devils was a solo home run from right fielder Trever Allen (to extend his hitting streak to 14 games) and an RBI single from first baseman Nate Causey.
ASU starter and team-leader in ERA, Brett Lilek retired two hitters in the first inning, but was injured and removed from the game after attempting to cover first base on a potential double play. Lilek was late getting to first base, as he had to cover for Causey who fielded the ground ball. Shortstop Drew Stankiewicz tried to hit the moving target in Lilek, but his low throw caused Lilek to stumble and fall on his chest.
The extent of Lilek’s injury is unknown, and initially it appeared as if he simply had the wind knocked out of him. But when the southpaw attempted two warm-up pitches, it was clear that the injury was more severe. On the play, the Waves scored to capture an early 1-0 lead.
Midweek pitcher Seth Martinez (5-0) relieved the injured Lilek and promptly allowed a two-out, two-RBI double to third baseman Austin Davidson.
Yet after Pepperdine captured a 3-0 lead on the double, Martinez was lights out. The true freshman right-hander retired the next 16 batters he faced and kept the Sun Devils close into the eighth inning, while registering six strikeouts.
Reliever Jordan Aboites turned in another gutty performance from the Sun Devil bullpen, as he stifled the Pepperdine offense with nasty off-speed pitches for the next two innings.
ASU had cut the lead to 3-2 and was knocking at the door in the eighth inning. With runners on first and second with two outs in the inning, right fielder Jake Peevyhouse struck out looking on a controversial call from the home plate umpire to squelch any hope of a walk-off win in the ninth or extra innings. Though the strike-three pitch to Peevyhouse may have been too close to take with two strikes, it should be noted that the strike zone was very generous throughout the game.
Now in the loser’s bracket of the double elimination tournament, the Sun Devils now have no room for error. ASU’s season will hinge on tomorrow’s matchup against the loser of the Friday night game between No. 1 seed Cal Poly and No. 4 Sacramento State. Ryan Kellogg will toe the rubber for the Sun Devils.
You can reach Jacob Garcia on Twitter @Jake_M_Garcia or via email at Jacob.M.Garcia@asu.edu