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ASU baseball: Sun Devils use big inning to put away Baylor, take series

The Sun Devils scored nine runs in the sixth inning to take two of three games against Baylor.

Sophomore starter Brett Lilek allowed just two hits and struck out a career-high seven batters in ASU's 12-1 victory Feb. 16, 2014.
Sophomore starter Brett Lilek allowed just two hits and struck out a career-high seven batters in ASU's 12-1 victory Feb. 16, 2014.
(Courtesy ASU Athletics)

No. 18 ASU and Baylor were locked in a classic pitchers' duel for five innings, then the bats came alive.

The Sun Devils (2-1) sent 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring nine runs to break a 1-1 tie and beat Baylor (1-2) 12-1, clinching the opening series of 2014.

"You don't see a lot of one-to-one games in the sixth on a Sunday," Sun Devil coach Tim Esmay said. "And then for us all of a sudden to go out there and have those great at-bats one through nine, it was a relentless attack from our guys. I was very proud of them."

The nine-run sixth came immediately after the Bears evened the score in the top of the inning with an RBI single by Duncan Wendel off Sun Devils' redshirt senior pitcher Zak Miller (1-0).

Freshman catcher Brian Serven led off the sixth with a single up the middle and scored two batters later when sophomore outfielder Chris Beall singled to right field which marked Beall's first-career RBI.

Beall scored just a batter later when redshirt junior second baseman Tucker Esmay, who finished with a team-high three hits, chopped a single over the Bears' third baseman and was misplayed by Baylor freshman left fielder Darryn Sheppard, one of three errors for the Bears.

Sophomore outfielder Johnny Sewald and the Sun Devils extended the lead to 5-1 after Sewald tripled down the right-field line, scoring Esmay.

Serven put the game out of reach in his second at-bat of the inning, a double to left that scored two more runs.

Esmay said he was pleased with the offense, which tallied 26 runs over the three games, all weekend.

"Don't count our offense out," Esmay said. "I think our offense needs to keep progressing like that."

Esmay was also impressed with the performance of sophomore Brett Lilek, who made just his second career start.

Lilek went four innings, striking out a career-high seven batters and allowing just two hits, in a no-decision.

"Man, Lilek was good," Esmay said.

The lefty spent most of last season sidelined with a lingering shoulder injury but said he was ready to go Sunday.

"I knew I was good," Lilek said. "Coach (Ken) Knutson put me off and waited until I was healthy again. Everything felt great."

Lilek, who exited after just 67 pitches, said he wanted to go out for the fifth, but understood the situation.

"I was ready to go out there, definitely," Lilek said. "But I knew it's early in the season, (I'm on a) pitch count and I was going to take it easy getting innings and getting ready for Pac-12."

The Sun Devils continue play Tuesday night at Packard at 6:30 p.m. against New Mexico