ASU baseball falls to No. 9 Oklahoma State 8-5 in series opener
It wasn't pretty, but No. 9 Oklahoma State beat ASU baseball 8-5 in front of of the Cowboy faithful Friday night, thanks to a steady stream of runs from the Cowboy lineup.
A game maligned by errors from both defenses saw the Cowboys gain an early edge, and they later exploited the inexperienced ASU bullpen down the stretch.
OSU sophomore left-hander Alex Hackerott (3-1, 3.37 ERA) pitched two innings to earn the win in relief of junior right-handed starter Joe Perrin.
Senior right-handed closer Brendan McCurry threw a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 13th save of the season.
The Cowboys (32-13, 13-5 Big-12) got out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning after junior second baseman Tim Arakawa doubled down the right-field line to score senior left fielder Aaron Cornell. Arakawa would come around to score on a single off the bat of freshman center fielder Ryan Sluder.
The Sun Devils (24-18, 12-9 Pac-12) responded in the top of the third when sophomore left fielder Chris Beall came around to score after sophomore center fielder Johhny Sewald and junior shortstop Drew Stankiewicz reached on back-to-back errors.
Sophomore designated hitter RJ Ybarra would drive in both Sewald and Stankiewicz to give ASU a 3-2 advantage.
OSU would not trail at any other point in Friday night's game.
Sophomore left-hander Brett Lilek (4-3, 2.42 ERA) was roughed up by a OSU offense eager to avenge a 6-1 loss back on March 2, in which Lilek earned the save.
Although Lilek gave up five hits and only three earned runs, he was taken out after just three innings in favor of sophomore right-handed reliever Eric Melbostad.
Two of Lilek's three walks started a third inning rally, and Stankiewicz compounded the damage caused by Lilek's inability to find the strike zone, committing two crucial errors.
One was a throwing error that snowballed OSU's momentum and lengthened an inning, and the other a bobble of a ground ball scoring as the Cowboys roared back to add four runs and retake the lead.
The Cowboy hitters continued to tee off on the Sun Devil relief staff, as junior catcher Gage Green hit a solo home run to right center off Melbostad, and Arakawa added his second RBI on a sacrifice fly, scoring senior first baseman Tanner Krietemeier.
Coach Tim Esmay elected not to use any of the regular arms out of the bullpen, instead relying on freshman Nick Diamond, Melbostad and senior Josh McCalister, who had thrown just 4 1/3 innings prior to Friday night.
Esmay noted prior to the series that OSU did not face sophomore closer Ryan Burr or any of ASU's usual middle-to-late inning relievers.
ASU sophomore left-hander Ryan Kellogg (6-2, 3.15 ERA) will face freshman righty Tyler Buffett (2-1, 1.85 ERA) in game two, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday from Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @modrich_22