(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
A late collapse by No. 4 Arizona State allowed Washington to claim the series opener 9-7 in a seesaw battle.
After reclaiming a 7-6 lead in the eighth, the Sun Devils (23-11, 11-5) bullpen allowed three earned runs (all charged to Eric Melbostad) to swing the score in the Huskies (21-14, 7-9) favor for good.
Despite the loss, the game was full of surprises for the Sun Devils.
One of these surprises occurred before the game even began, when Tracy Smith slotted pitcher Ryan Kellogg in the designated hitter slot, hitting him eighth. Needless to say, Kellogg did not receive an at-bat and was replaced by R.J. Ybarra.
Another came when ASU was down 4-2. Center fielder Johnny Sewald surprised many by lacing a three-run home run over the right field fence to give ASU a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning. The junior is not a conventional power hitter, hence the element of surprise. He had yet to homer in his three years at ASU before the no-doubter.
Ryan Burr also shockingly continued his rough patch by surrendering two inherited runs in the three-run eighth. His struggles today came after he allowed six runs in the ninth inning against Arizona on Monday.
Faced with just their fourth road series of the season, the Sun Devils sent sophomore Seth Martinez to the mound. He allowed a trio of home runs and couldn’t continue a rhythm against the Huskies offense.
Martinez went through a stretch where he retired 11 in a row, but followed that by allowing another home run to give up the lead. UW has homered six times in their last two games despite sitting in the bottom half of the Pac-12 home run leaders.
ASU received strong offensive performances from Joey Bielek, who hit an RBI single, as well as David Greer and Colby Woodmansee, who each hit a pair of doubles.
The Sun Devils positioned themselves well in the game because of their offense, holding 6-4 and 7-6 leads late in the game. Chris Beall reached on an error in the top of the eighth to break the 6-6 tie.
However, after the bullpen surrendered the lead, ASU was unable to rally in the ninth inning. Brian Serven’s 10-game hitting streak was snapped in the process.
The Sun Devils will look to keep their hopes of a series win alive on Saturday when they send Kellogg to the mound. First pitch at 7:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks.