The fans at Packard Stadium knew their beloved Sun Devils wouldn’t go down without a fight.
However, a five-run second inning by Bethune-Cookman (1-2) proved to be too difficult to overcome as ASU (2-1) dropped its first of the year, 7-6.
Down by one with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Kyle Bilbrey came in to pinch run for Max Rossiter. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the game ended when he was thrown out at third on a grounder from designated hitter Nathaniel Causey.
“It was a tough weekend,” reliever Alex Blackford said after the loss. “We didn’t play anywhere where we wanted to.”
Right-handed starter Darin Gillies worked around a Michael Benjamin error and escaped the first inning unscathed despite throwing 28 pitches, foreshadowing a scary trend that paid dividends for the Wildcats in the second.
Along with a pair of passed balls, Gillies walked the first four batters he faced in the second frame, allowing the Wildcats to go up 2-0.
Enter right-hander Alex Blackford. The senior got the Sun Devils out of the inning, but not after the Wildcats scored five runs on just one hit.
The Devils responded in the bottom of the second with a pair of doubles from Rouric Bridgewater and Drew Stankiewicz to close the deficit to 5-1.
Both teams plated another run in the third and ASU added a pair of runs in the fourth from a Michael Benjamin RBI base hit.
Freshman right-hander Brett Lilek took over for Blackford to start the sixth, finishing off a quality outing for Blackford, who finished with 4 IP, 3 K and just 1 ER on 3 hits.
Lilek needed a one-run wake up to find his rhythm. He came out after pitching the eighth inning, ending his afternoon with 3 IP, 3 BB and 1 ER on 1 hit.
With the score at 7-4, the Sun Devils then cut the Wildcat lead to one in their half of the seventh when Max Rossiter drove in two on a fly ball to deep left that was lost in the sun. However, the Sun Devils’ bats were quieted after that.
Senior reliever Matt Dunbar kept the deficit at one with a 1-2-3 ninth inning that set up the Sun Devils for a second possible walk-off victory on the weekend.
Despite the Sun Devil rally, Bethune-Cookman closer Jordan Dailey got the save as he worked around a Max Rossiter base hit to get his first save of the year which gave his team the 7-6 victory.
ASU travels to Knoxville, Tenn., Friday to square off against the Tennessee Volunteers in a three-game series.