The Sun Devils played some of the best defense fans have seen all season but couldn’t generate enough offense to beat Pepperdine in the first game of the Cal Poly regional in San Luis Obispo, California.
Sophomore pitcher Brett Lilek started the game on the mound for ASU but was pulled out after suffering an injury in the first inning. Already down 1-0, in came freshman Seth Martinez in his first postseason game and he would start out shaky. By the middle of the second inning, the Sun Devils found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
ASU responded immediately with a home run in the bottom of the second by redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen. With his home run, Allen now has a team high five home runs on the season as well as a 14-game hitting streak.
Defensively, the Sun Devils played lights out after the second inning. Martinez threw five straight 1-2-3 innings, retiring 16 straight batters from the second inning to the seventh. On the day, Martinez gave up two runs but struck out seven and allowed only three hits of the 24 batters he faced.
Unfortunately for ASU, Pepperdine’s senior pitcher Corey Miller was also on his game. Miller, who started for the Waves, pitched just over seven innings and similarly to Martinez gave up three hits and two runs of the 28 batters he faced while striking out four.
After an RBI single by junior catcher Nate Causey brought junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz home in the fourth inning, the Pepperdine lead was cut to 3-2. The pitching would take over, and neither team scored for the rest of the game.
Sophomore Jordan Aboites took over for Martinez in the eighth inning and pitched the rest of the game. Of the six batters he faced, Aboites gave up only one hit and struck out two.
ASU had a chance to tie it up or win the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Pepperdine senior closer Eric Karch proved too much for the Sun Devils. Karch retired the first two batters he faced until Allen singled to put the tying run on base. On the ensuing at bat, sophomore third baseman Dalton DiNatale struck out swinging to end the game.
For Pepperdine, the difference was made by junior third baseman Austin Davidson. Davidson batted 2-4 with a run scored in the first inning and a two-RBI double in the second.
The good news for Sun Devils fans is that the first stage of the postseason is double elimination. ASU will play the loser of Cal Poly and Sacramento State on Saturday at 1 p.m.
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