LONG BEACH, Calif.– After a week of not being able to score, ASU’s bats finally came alive Sunday afternoon.
ASU baseball scored three runs combined in its previous three games. The Sun Devils (3-4) scored four in the first inning alone and were aided by a strong start from sophomore lefty Brett Lilek en route to a 7-2 victory over Wright State to complete their first road trip of the year.
“It was just a great win for us,” sophomore third baseman Dalton DiNatale said. “Hopefully we can keep on rolling from here.”
It started when redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen took the third pitch of the game and one-hopped the left-field wall with it. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on an error by Wright State junior second baseman Alex Boeri.
Boeri had two errors in the inning, and they both came around to score. His misplays allowed freshman second baseman David Greer and junior first baseman Joey Bielek to reach, and they both scored on a double down the right-field line by DiNatale.
“I just changed my approach,” DiNatale said. “In the last couple games, I’ve been pretty impatient at the plate, going after pitchers’ pithes. In this game, I was able to look for a pitch middle-in – that’s my strength – and I was able to put a few good swings on it.”
Dinatale came around to score the fourth Sun Devil run on the third Raiders’ (2-4) error of the inning, this time by senior infielder Joe Ford. DiNatale finished with three RBIs on the afternoon.
ASU added two more runs in the fourth and one in the ninth.
Sunday was Lilek’s second start of the season and third of his career. He completed a career-high six innings, allowing only two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out five.
Lilek looked comfortable on the mound from the game’s first pitch. He needed only 11 pitches to get through the first, and excluding a two-run third innings, was nearly untouchable. He pounded the strike zone with fastballs, then added in a nasty slider and an occasional changeup to keep hitters honest.
He finished with 95 pitches, also a career-high. Fifty-eight of those were strikes and he was dominate in the fourth and fifth innings. He completed them using only 19 pitches, 16 of which for strikes.
Lilek said pitching coach Ken Knutson wanted to pull him after five innings and 76 pitches, but he said he was able to talk him into one more inning.
Lilek said the offense giving him four runs before he even took the mound was a big confidence boost.
“If a runner gets on base, so what?” Lilek said. “It’s that mentality.”
– Dinatale’s three RBIs are a single-game high for ASU this season, and he is the only ASU player with two multiple-RBI games (Feb. 14 vs. Baylor).
– Lilek has yet to allow an extra-base hit this year. He allowed only one in 20 innings last season.
– Bielek drew a walk Sunday, his team-high sixth in six games.
– Every ASU starter reached base at least twice.
– ASU returns to action next week on Thursday for four games in the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz.
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