ASU baseball falls to Bethune-Cookman, ends series 2-1

Senior pitcher Alex Blackford releases a pitch against Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 17. Despite Blackford’s relief efforts the Sun Devils were not able to pull of the sweep of the Wildcats. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

Senior pitcher Alex Blackford releases a pitch against Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 17. Despite Blackford’s relief efforts the Sun Devils were not able to pull of the sweep of the Wildcats. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

When a team is only able to muster four hits, the outcome of the game is usually not favorable.

For Bethune-Cookman on Sunday, that was not the case. The Wildcats (1-2) knocked off the ASU baseball team 7-6 in the series finale.

Sophomore pitcher Darin Gillies started for the Sun Devils (2-1) and lasted only an inning, walking six and allowing five runs.

Gillies didn’t allow a hit but had no control. He had five straight walks in the second inning and Bethune-Cookman to jump out to an early 5-0 lead.

Senior pitcher Alex Blackford, who came on in relief of Gillies, understood what the sophomore was going through today.

“We’ve all had those innings,” he said. “It’s tough when you’re out there on the mound and can’t find your stuff.”

Blackford was strong in relief, allowing only one run and three hits in four innings of work.

When he left the game, the Sun Devils had clawed back to 6-4, and Blackford said he felt comfortable in his first appearance of the season.

“I’ve been in that position before,” he said. “As a senior, I’ve been in that position a lot. I was just trying to throw some strikes and get some outs.”

Wildcat starter junior Jordan Dailey turned in a strong performance, lasting six and one-third innings while giving up seven hits and striking out six.

Although Dailey gave up six runs, Blackford was impressed.

“He threw really well,” he said. “He threw strikes and kept us off balance all day.”

The Sun Devils cut the deficit to 7-6 in the seventh after senior Max Rossiter’s opposite field ground-rule double, but couldn’t make it over the hump.

Rossiter gave the Sun Devils hope again in the ninth with his two-out single. But then junior pinch-runner Kyle Bilbrey was thrown out at third following sophomore Nate Causey’s single to end the game.

Blackford admitted the loss stung a little bit, especially since it came on Sunday.

“Sundays is where you win in college baseball,” Blackford said. “Fridays and Saturdays are important, but Sundays is where you win the Pac-12 and where you win the series usually. It’s tough to come out with a loss, but we will get them next time.”

Blackford was still happy to win the series and believes the Sun Devils are confident heading into their first road series of the year next weekend at Tennessee.

“We know how to play, we know what we need to do,” he said. “It’s an easy game. We have to simplify the game, and I think we are making it too tough on ourselves.”

 

Reach the reporter at dsshapi1@asu.edu