The Sun Devils (12-4-1, 1-2 Pac-12) struck first taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning courtesy of a sacrifice fly from junior infielder Michael Benjamin.
The lead only lasted one inning. The Cougars (11-7, 2-1 Pac-12) tied it in the second thanks to an RBI single from junior outfielder Jason Monda, who was 3-4 on the day.
Sophomore starter Adam McCreery (1-2) was able to hold the Cougars in check in the third. But he couldn’t make it out of the fourth and allowed five straight batters to reach before being pulled for redshirt sophomore reliever Mark Lambson.
The Cougars put up six total runs in the fourth to take a 7-1 lead, tying their highest scoring inning of the weekend.
Sophomore shortstop Drew Stankiewicz made one of two Sun Devils errors in the fourth inning and said the high scoring inning for Washington State doomed his team.
“We dug ourselves a deep hole,” Stankiewicz said. “Arizona State shortstops should not be making those kind of errors that cost us the game.”
McCreery finished his outing allowing only three hits, but gave up six runs (four earned) to raise his season ERA to 6.86.
Esmay said he didn’t like what saw out of the 6-foot-9 lefty all afternoon.
“He struggled today,” Esmay said. “His velocity was down. He didn’t command the strike zone. He threw a lot of first pitch balls. It was just not a good outing for him today.”
The Sun Devils clawed back with three runs in the sixth to make it 7-4. Then freshman pitcher Brett Lilek, making his first appearance since Feb. 28 against Arkansas, gave up three in the top of the seventh to push the Cougars lead back to 10-4.
“After scoring three, then to give up a three spot, you can’t win that game,” Esmay said.
Redshirt sophomore Trever Allen, who went 4-of-5 with four RBI’s on the day, moved the Sun Devils to within 10-6 in the bottom of the seventh.
The Cougars tacked on a run in the top of the ninth. The Sun Devils scored two in the bottom half but came up three runs short.
Freshman first baseman David Graybill came up as the tying run with only one out in the ninth, but he grounded into a double play to end the game.
“We were coming, but we didn’t get the big knock at the end,” Esmay said.
It was the first series the Sun Devils have dropped all season. Esmay said his team can use the loss in a positive way looking forward.
“We had a lot of newbies who had never been in the Pac-12 before, so I think we can take a lot away from this weekend,” Esmay said.
The Sun Devils return to action Tuesday for a midweek contest at Texas Tech before heading north for their Pac-12 road opening series against Oregon State.
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