After struggling to find consistency on Sundays in the 2013 season, ASU baseball has started 2014 undefeated on the final day of the weekend.
Sophomore left-handers Ryan Kellogg and Brett Lilek combined for nine innings of one-run ball as the Sun Devils (6-4) earned the weekend sweep Sunday at the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic in Surprise with a 6-1 upset over No. 14 Oklahoma State.
Kellogg (1-1), who started the game after Saturday’s matchup against Oklahoma was cancelled because of inclement weather, struck out a career-high 10 batters, all of which came in his first four innings on the mound.
Lilek, ASU’s normal Sunday starter, took over in the sixth and tossed 3 2/3 innings of perfect baseball before allowing a single with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. He struck out five and also earned his first collegiate save.
ASU coach Tim Esmay said it was important that both of his starters got a few innings in so that they could maintain a routine.
“We wanted to make sure that Kellogg didn’t get out of the weekend without getting kind of in the routine,” Esmay said. “The plan was to go in and let Kellogg go five and let Lilek close it, finish it out.”
While Kellogg said he didn’t think he was the type of pitcher to strike out six or seven batters each night, he said it was nice to let his defense rest a little bit by sitting batters down with the ‘K.’
“Kellogg went out there and set the tone,” Lilek said. “He was relentless. He did a fantabulous job.”
Astute ASU baseball fans will remember Lilek’s only start of the 2013 season on Feb. 28, when he pitched five innings of one-run ball and struck out six to lead the Sun Devils to an upset over then-No. 2 Arkansas, also at Surprise Stadium.
“We get to play in a major league ballpark,” Lilek said. “Sometimes this will be the only time for some of us so it’s a whole lot of fun.”
Kellogg walked three batters in the second inning, allowing the Cowboys (10-2) to start the scoring when senior third baseman Craig McConaughy reached on a perfect bunt to the right side.
ASU, which has now won four straight, scored the next six runs, three of which came in the fourth inning, when the Sun Devils knocked out OSU right-handed starter Thomas Hatch. The freshman completed just 3 2/3 innings and gave up four runs, all of which were earned.
Redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen and redshirt junior second baseman Tucker Esmay were the only two ASU starters without a hit Sunday.
“We played great team baseball tonight,” coach Esmay said. “We executed stuff and had some good at-bats and played really good defense.”
Sophomore left fielder Chris Beall, who started in place of the slumping junior outfielder Jake Peevyhouse, proved his offensive value, going 3-for-3 with two runs, an RBI and a walk.
“That kid’s been chomping at the bit,” coach Esmay said. “He showed that he’s ready to go and has kept himself ready and had a good evening.”
ASU will look to continue its winning streak March 7, 8 and 9 when it faces Tennessee at Packard Stadium in Tempe. First pitch for Friday’s game is at 6:30 p.m.
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