It looked like a case of deja vu from the start on Friday night, but ASU baseball held on to win a 3-2 nail-biter to even up the series with Stanford.
The Sun Devils (21-15, 10-7 Pac-12) got on the board first, this time in the fourth inning off of a two-run home run by freshman catcher Brian Serven, his second of the year.
Whe he connected, Serven had little doubt that his shot had left Klein Field.
“That one felt pretty good,” Serven said. “(When I hit it) I was pretty sure it was gone.”
After going 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss, Serven’s night at the plate was a marked improvement, reaching base with two walks.
“Yesterday I was struggling,” Serven said. “After I talked to the coaches and made some adjustments, I started seeing the ball a lot better.”
ASU’s patience at the plate slowed down freshman starter Cal Quantrill (3-4, 3.02 ERA) to cool off after a hot start.
The Sun Devils forced Quantrill to labor through the rest of his outing after the three-run burst in the fourth.
He struck out five batters in the first three innings, but went on to throw 111 pitches before he was pulled in the top of the seventh.
In that same inning, redshirt junior second baseman Tucker Esmay’s sacrifice fly added a run, scoring junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz, who started in place of freshman Colby Woodmansee.
Sophomore Ryan Kellogg outlasted his counterpart, going seven strong innings.
The lefty gave up two runs on seven hits, striking out three, and held Stanford scoreless until the sixth inning.
He threw 69 strikes out of 103 total pitches, and Serven and the coaching staff were pleased with his efficiency.
“He was his usual self (tonight),” Serven said. “(He was) throwing strikes, keeping it low, not leaving pitches out and over the plate. The way he executes and stays disciplined throughout the game helps him be who he is, and pitch the way he does.”
Once again, a Cardinal comeback made things interesting after Kellogg exited in the seventh.
This time, though, ASU squeaked out a 3-2 win, holding off Stanford’s late rally.
Stanford freshman left fielder Alex Dunlap came through with a single, scoring junior center fielder Alex Slater (his third run of the series) and sophomore right fielder Zach Hoffpauir to pull within one.
The Sun Devil bullpen would not bend, shutting out the Cardinal in the last three frames.
Sohomore reliever Jordan Aboites held off the Stanford hitters for the eighth inning, and allowed just one hit.
Sophomore closer Ryan Burr, last seen warming up in the bullpen while freshman Hever Bueno tried to finish out the ninth inning Thursday, silenced the Stanford bats after a allowing a big hit to open the inning.
Trying to recreate some of their late-inning magic from the previous night, the Cardinal called upon a familiar pinch hitter, junior Tommy Edman, and he delivered a leadoff double to ignite the Stanford faithful in the ninth.
However, Burr showed poise under duress and took over the rest of the inning, punctuating his eighth save of the year by retiring the next three Stanford hitters in order.
“He looks really confident out there,” Serven said. “It’s gelling for him, he’s getting back to the way he was earlier in the year.”
Serven underscored the significance of a road win that allows ASU to go for its fifth straight Pac-12 series win Saturday.
“It’s huge for us, because yesterday was a game we should have won,” Serven said. “It was huge to come back and get a win and hopefully win another series tomorrow.”
In the rubber match Saturday afternoon, ASU right-handed junior Darin Gillies will face junior lefty John Hochstatter at 1:00 p.m. at Klein Field in Stanford, Calif.
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