ASU baseball had seven runs and took a multiple-run lead into the ninth inning against Baylor on Saturday.
It started to seem like the Friday night meltdown, but this time, ASU was able to shut the door and complete a 7-4 victory.
The Sun Devils (1-1) relied on the arm of sophomore right-hander Eric Melbostad after an outing from sophomore lefty Ryan Kellogg that was only OK.
Melbostad came in after the fifth inning, and pitched four innings in relief. He allowed a single to the first batter, then retired the next 12 hitters he faced from the Bears (1-1).
“Everything was going right today,” Melbostad said. “I just felt really good out there.”
After Friday night’s late-game meltdown, ASU will be looking for a closer in the back of its bullpen. Melbostad submitted his name into the hat with his performance today, but he said he was ready to fill whatever role the team needed him to fill.
“I’m willing to do whatever we need me to do to get to Omaha,” Melbostad said. “It’s all about victories here.”
Melbostad relieved Kellogg, who allowed three runs in five innings of work, allowing six hits, two walks and striking out a pair.
The runner who singled off Melbostad scored off a balk and two fielder’s choices, but he was perfect after that. He said after throwing three innings, there was no discussion between him and coach Tim Esmay as to whether or not he was going out for the ninth.
“Nobody said anything,” Melbostad said. “I knew it was my inning, and so did the rest of the team, so I went out there and got the win for the team.”
Offensively, the Sun Devils did just enough to get the job done. They scored in the second, then added two more on a double by sophomore first baseman David Graybill.
They added one each in the fourth and the sixth, and entered the eighth clinging to a 5-4 lead.
Unlike Friday, it was ASU’s turn to score late, adding two insurance runs courtesy of two outfielders: redshirt senior Kyle Bilbrey and redshirt junior Trever Allen.
Bilbrey led off the inning the inning, then took a perfect route running the bases on a single by Allen, going first-to-third on Allen’s hit to left field.
Freshman infielder David Greer stepped up to the plate and put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Bilbrey, who read the ball off the bat flawlessly and scored without a throw. Pinch-hitting for Graybill, junior Nate Causey knocked in Allen for ASU’s seventh and final run of the day.
Greer finished with two RBIs in his Sun Devil debut. Also making his ASU debut, freshman Brian Serven went 1-3 with an RBI.
After the game, Graybill said it felt good to get the first win out of the way, especially considering how Friday went.
“Every time we go out we want to win,” Graybill said. “When we do lose, it’s a fluke in our eyes, we should never lose a game.”
He wasn’t done expressing confidence in the team.
“To me, I think we’re the best team in the country, and I can say that with confidence, I can say that with pride.” he said. “I know how hard everyone has worked in here to get to this point.”
Graybill and the Sun Devils will have a chance to win the series Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. at Packard Stadium in Tempe.
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