Video by Stefan Modrich | Assistant Sports Editor
ASU baseball pounced on Oregon early, winning 8-6 Sunday afternoon in spite of yet another ninth inning collapse from sophomore closer Ryan Burr.
Lighting up the scoreboard early with a five-run first inning set the tone for the Sun Devils (26-21, 14-10 Pac-12) and their rejuvenated offense.
Junior outfielder Jake Peevyhouse has embraced the role of the No. 3 spot in head coach Tim Esmay’s lineup, driving in sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald with a double down the right field line.
“He had some good at-bats early in the game that we needed,” Esmay said. “Any player in this program should look to see how he’s worked through the adversity he’s dealt with to get him back into the right mindset.”
ASU scattered four hits, including singles from junior first baseman Nate Causey and sophomore left fielder Chris Beall and a double by freshman catcher Brian Serven to put the Sun Devils ahead 5-0, in the first inning. They went on to tag Oregon starter Brando Tessar (4-1, 2.81 ERA) for 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
Junior right hander Darrin Gillies (2-4, 4.62 ERA) earned his first win since February 27, allowing one run on just two hits through six innings.
“We took the pressure they applied on us and put it back on them,” Esmay said. “That was a great response by our guys, and Gillies was as convicted and confident as I’ve seen him.”
Esmay said that the Ducks’ ability to attack Gillies’ and Burr’s offspeed pitches was a concern that needed to be addressed through watching film and bullpen sessions.
“It’s not always going to be perfect for everybody,” Esmay said. “(Freshman pitcher Eder) Erives had Burr’s back, and it was a huge moment for him to perform like he did.”
Like Saturday night, ASU continued to push the Oregon bullpen to the brink, as Peevyhouse collected his second RBI via fielder’s choice, the first of three additional insurance runs to force an early exit from Brando.
With a comfortable 8-2 lead — the Duck’s only runs courtesy of a wild pitch and a home run from senior second baseman Aaron Payne — Burr was called upon in the ninth in relief of sophomore Jordan Aboites.
Aboites threw two innings, and his only hit given up was the long ball to Payne, bridging the gap to Burr with a six run cushion intact.
Burr induced a fly out to redshirt junior left fielder J.B. Bryant to begin the inning, and it seemed that Burr would quietly finish off the Ducks, who had mustered just three hits prior to Burr’s appearance.
Oregon’s hitters took advantage of a walk to pinch hitter Josh Graham, the first of three free passes that reawakened a dormant offense.
Burr loaded the bases after giving up a single to junior pinch hitter Steven Packard, and then proceed to walk in a run.
The hitting barrage continued, as the Ducks scored three runs before Esmay yanked Burr to enlist Erives with the duty of stopping the bleeding.
Another run came home on an RBI groundout by redshirt junior designated hitter Kyle Garlick to narrow the lead to two runs, but Erives navigated his way out of the jam for his first save of the season.
ASU will travel to face UNLV at Earl E. Wilson Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
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