Brett Lilek leads ASU baseball past Washington in Pac-12 opener

Brett Lilek is adjusting just fine to life on Friday nights.

A two-out triple in the top of the seventh snapped the ASU sophomore left-hander’s scoreless streak at 20 2/3 innings, but not before his offense spotted him four runs en route to a 4-1 win over Washington on Friday night in the Pac-12 opener.

“It sets a great tone,” Lilek said on winning the first conference game. “To start off 1-0 in the ‘Pac’ … is definitely a great start to the ‘Pac’ and to our season.”

 

 

It was Lilek’s second start on Friday nights, and he has now completed 14 innings while surrendering only one run.

The Sun Devils (9-6, 1-0 Pac-12) put up three runs in the third inning against the Huskies (10-5-1, 0-1 Pac-12) starting from the bottom of their order, in what ASU coach Tim Esmay called a “momentum changer.”

In the top half of the third, Lilek pitched himself into a bases-loaded, one-out scenario against Washington’s three-hole hitter. Lilek induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat. Lilek said he doesn’t change his approach in high-leverage situations.

“I’d say honestly it’s just pretending like nobody’s on base,” he said. “You don’t want to get yourself up when someone gets on base because that’s when you make a mistake.”

ASU carried that momentum off the field and into the dugout.

Sophomore left fielder Christopher Beall singled to lead off the home half of the inning then displayed some perfect base running, going first-to-third then diving to avoid the tag on a single by freshman shortstop Colby Woodmansee. Beall came in to score on a groundout by freshman second baseman David Greer.

With his team leading 2-0, sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald decided that wasn’t enough. Against a drawn-in infield defending against a sacrifice fly with a runner on third, Sewald slapped it into the left-center gap and wound up on second base. He then flew around the bases and scored on a single up the middle by freshman catcher Brian Serven.

“They were bases loaded with one out … and then we turn around and score three,” Esmay said. “You go from fighting to get out of an inning, to getting out of the inning then the guys turn around and take that momentum and turn it right into our batters box.”

ASU added one more in the fourth inning to bring the game to its 4-1 final.

It started with Lilek, then went to freshman right-hander Eder Erives and ended with sophomore right-hander Ryan Burr, both of whom pitched perfect innings. Burr’s was for his third save of the season. Esmay said having the confidence that Lilek will pitch deep into the game makes it easy for him to manage his bullpen.

“We didn’t have to use our bullpen today, we wanted to use it,” Esmay said. “All that equation for tonight was set up really well.”

It works for both sides. Washington starter, junior right-hander Jared Fisher, was credited with an eight-inning complete game because ASU was leading in the bottom of the ninth. Combined, both teams used their bullpens for only two innings. They will be fresh for Saturday and Sunday.

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