ASU baseball: Lilek blanks Tennessee, hands Volunteers first loss of season

Brett Lilek's first career Friday night start ended in a Sun Devil victory. - (Courtesy ASU Athletics)

Brett Lilek extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings in the victory.

Brett Lilek's favorite color is quickly becoming orange.

The sophomore lefty pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and one walk, to propel No. 24 ASU to a 3-1 victory and give No. 21 Tennessee its first loss of the season.

Lilek (2-0) shut down the vaunted Volunteers (12-1) offense, which had scored double-digit runs in four of its first 12 games, only five days after throwing four scoreless innings against then-No. 14 Oklahoma State in his first career save.

Lilek, who added three strikeouts, admittedly wasn't as calm pregame as he was during his outing.

"It was a little weird because I had to sit in my apartment for a longer time and I really wasn't used to that because I'm an ansy kind of guy," Lilek said. "Everything was fine, though. After one pitch I settled in."

Early offense once again gave Lilek and the Sun Devils (7-4) a confidence boost.

Following a pair of singles off Volunteers senior starter Nick Williams in the first inning, sophomore designated hitter R.J. Ybarra slapped a single of his own to right field, bringing home a run.

The Sun Devils added a second run in the first on a double play off the bat of freshman catcher Brian Serven, but it was all the offense Lilek needed.

"It was really nice," Lilek said. "Any pitcher wants to start from ahead because you can have some freedom."

Sophomore third baseman Dalton DiNatale gave Lilek a little more freedom in the seventh, homering over the right field wall to push the Sun Devil lead to three.

DiNatale finished with a team-high two hits and said adding another run for his starter was just part of the plan.

"It was a great feeling," DiNatale said. "I wasn't trying to do too much. I was just trying to get on and start something and I just happened to connect with that one."

Redshirt freshman lefty Nick Diamond surrendered a run in the eighth but sophomore Ryan Burr, just days removed from his starter role, finished off the Volunteers in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.

The Sun Devils have now won five consecutive games, a feat that isn't surprising to head coach Tim Esmay.

"I think we've played only two really bad games this year," Esmay said. "It's our guys trusting in the process and being humble in the game."

The Sun Devils return to action tomorrow night against Tennessee at 6:30 p.m.

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