(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
Early runs and great relief pitching propelled Arizona State to a 5-3 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday, giving the team its second straight win of the season, as well as a series win.
After Sun Devil starter Ryan Kellogg departed after five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, the bullpen duo of Jordan Aboites and Ryan Burr, compiled four shutdown innings to close the door for ASU.
Riding the momentum of Colby Woodmansee’s walk-off home run on Friday night, the offense provided Kellogg with some early run support when Jake Peevyhouse, who surprisingly did not get the start in yesterday’s game, hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the first inning. Peevyhouse was nursing an injured wrist, which may have been the reason for freshman Coltin Gerhart starting over him.
After being shut down in the first, Oklahoma State was able to respond in the second, thanks to a Bryan Case two-run double that made it 2-1 in OSU’s favor. Case had not started in the season opener, but was slotted in at catcher by Cowboys head coach Josh Holliday for today’s matchup.
The strong displays of offense continued into the bottom of the second, as ASU picked up right where it left off. Brian Serven was hit by a pitch and then Johnny Sewald laid down a drag bunt to set up the threat. Second baseman Jordan Aboites laced a two-run triple, his second hit of the afternoon, to put ASU up 3-2.
The barrage of Sun Devil base runners led to Holliday pulling starter Jon Perrin in favor of Tyler Buffett, who quickly surrendered a sacrifice fly to junior R.J. Ybarra.
“We know that those guys like throwing sliders in any count,” Aboites said about attacking Perrin early in the game. “So we were trying to get on top of the ball a little better than we were yesterday, keep our approach simple, let the ball get deep and know they can’t beat us with anything.”
For the third straight inning, ASU drove in a run, this time via an RBI single by Dalton Dinatale after Trever Allen hit his first double of the young season. Despite scoring five runs, the Sun Devils also left five on base through the first three innings, missing a lot of extra chances that were presented to them.
The Cowboys offense continued to have a response, though, grabbing a single tally in the 4th to cut the lead to 5-3. Bradley, who drove in the run, picked up his second RBI in as many games.
Kellogg departed at this point and turned the game over to his bullpen, but the decision by Smith to roll with Gillies invoked doubt as to who would start tomorrow.
Smith, however, ended any questions on the issue when he said that Gillies would start on Sunday.
The right-hander did not last long, though, as he faced two batters without recording an out before he was removed for Aboites.
The 5-foot-6 Aboites held the Cowboys scoreless for two and 2/3 innings while striking out two batters.
Preseason All-American Ryan Burr, who maneuvered his way in and out of trouble on Friday night, did the same in the eighth inning on Saturday.
The nerves did not take effect in the ninth, as Burr was able to retire the side in order to notch his first save of the season. The save tied him with Doug Nurnberg for most saves all-time in a Sun Devil uniform, the longest standing ASU record. He also raised his strikeout total to seven on the season, a feat that is extremely impressive given his three and 1/3 innings this season.
Burr wasn’t focused on the record though, deflecting the focus away from his individual accomplishment and onto the success of the team.
“The main focus is winning as a team. If I’m getting saves, that means we are winning, that’s the main goal right now,” Burr said.
The Sun Devils will go for the sweep against the Cowboys at 12:30 on Sunday.