ASU baseball lifted to victory over Baylor by nine-run sixth inning
It was all quiet on the home front for ASU baseball, having scored only once through the first five innings Sunday afternoon.
Then the Sun Devils' (2-1) bats exploded for nine runs in the sixth inning and cruised to a 12-1 victory in the rubber game off a three-game set against Baylor.
Freshman catcher Brian Serven led off the inning for ASU, singling to center field. He came around to score, as did eight of the next nine Sun Devils to come to the plate.
Serven added an exclamation point to his inning, doubling in a pair in his second at-bat of the frame. He came around to score twice in the inning and three times in the game.
“It was a relentless attack by our guys,” coach Tim Esmay said. “I was very proud of them.”
Sophomore left fielder Christopher Beall also had two hits in the inning, recording the first and second RBIs of his career in separate at-bats in the same inning. It was the first start of his career.
While ASU’s offensive explosion was the focal point of the afternoon, sophomore left-hander Brett Lilek started the game for the Sun Devils, his first appearance of the season and second start of his career.
Lilek threw four tremendous innings, striking out a career-high seven, while only allowing two hits while walking one. He struck out five of the first seven hitters he saw Sunday.
Lilek was worked himself into several three-ball counts early, then settled in and became more efficient with his pitches.
“I knew that Baylor was going to try and get us starters out of the game as fast as they could, so they were going to be patient,” Lilek said. “I knew if I (got ahead of hitters), our offense was going to be relentless and put in some nice work and get runs, so I didn’t have to worry about that.
He threw only 67 pitches, but Esmay said when Lilek was home for the holidays, storms hit Lilek’s winter home and delayed his workouts. Because of that, he was on a pitch count.
Esmay said because of how well Lilek was pitching, it was tough to adhere to that pitch count.
“After the fourth inning, (pitching coach Ken) Knutson came up and told me ‘That’s it, we’re going to (senior righty Zak) Miller,’” Esmay said. “I would have loved to have him throw, but it was smart, and that was what we needed to do.”
ASU won two of the three games in the set with the Bears (1-2), outscoring them 26-14.
ASU’s next game is Tuesday evening, when it hosts New Mexico at 6:30 p.m. at Packard Stadium.
– Freshmen Cooper Esmay and Zach Cerbo had the first at-bats of their career back-to-back in the seventh inning. Esmay doubled and Cerbo tripled.
– The ASU defense had only one error in the three-game set. Baylor had nine.
– ASU’s 12 runs are the most the team has scored at home since April 20, 2013, against Valparaiso. The Sun Devils won that game 15-3.
– No ASU player started all three games in the series.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson