ASU baseball hits the road for three-game set in Southern California

ASU baseball played its first four games of Packard Stadium’s final season at home, and will hit the road for the first time this weekend when it cruises through Southern California.

The road trip will also serve as an attempt at redemption of sorts for the ASU rotation. Not to say the weekend starters pitched poorly, but the team’s Friday night starter, sophomore right-hander Ryan Burr, lasted only four innings, needing 96 pitches to do so.

Sophomore lefty Ryan Kellogg allowed three runs in five innings and sophomore lefty Brett Lilek lasted only four innings, though he was on a pitch count of about 60.

 
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Offensively, the Sun Devils did what they needed to do, scoring 26 runs in the three-game set against Baylor.

ASU’s road trip will feature three different teams at two locations.

Friday night will pit ASU against California State Universty Long Beach. The Dirtbags had a rough start to their season, as they were swept at home by Vanderbilt University and managed only four runs. No player scored more than once, and junior outfielder Richard Prigatano knocked in three of the team’s four runs.

If Long Beach State stays with its same Friday starter, Burr will duel junior lefty Nick Sabo, who pitched well in the Dirtbags’ season opener. Sabo threw 5 2/3 innings and allowed only one unearned run while striking out five and walking a pair.

Saturday afternoon, ASU will travel 18 miles south to face UC Irvine, where the Sun Devils will meet the Anteaters and junior third baseman Taylor Sparks.

Sparks was named to the preseason watch list for the Golden Spikes award, sponsored by Major League Baseball and presented to to the nation’s top amateur player. He won the American Baseball Coaches Association Gold Golve award at third base, and led the Big West conference with a .581 slugging percentage. He also batted .360 and homered 10 times.

Over the summer, Sparks played for Team USA and led the team with a .396 batting average, 21 hits and 10 RBIs.

Sparks and the Anteaters went 1-2 in the opening series against Fresno State, winning in the series finale 1-0. Should Irvine stick to its Saturday starter, it will be freshman lefty Elliot Surrey who toes the rubber against ASU’s Kellogg. Surrey pitched four innings of two-run ball Saturday and allowed only three hits and a walk.

To complete the Southern California swing, the Sun Devils return to Long Beach to meet Wright State. The Raiders lost to Michigan State in two of the three games they played last weekend, scoring a 7-1 win in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Other than the seven-run output, Wright State scored only one run in each of the other two games.

ASU’s game on Friday against Long Beach State is at 7 p.m. MST and Saturday’s meeting in Irvine will start at 2 p.m. MST First pitch for Sunday’s game with Wright State is also scheduled for 2 p.m. MST.

Reach the reporter at justin.emerson@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson