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ASU Baseball: Trojans outlast Sun Devils to take final game of series

USC racked up 15 hits and staved off a late rally in Sunday's victory over ASU.

USC junior second baseman Dante Flores (left) had three hits and two RBIs in the Trojans' 8-7 win over ASU Sunday afternoon.
USC junior second baseman Dante Flores (left) had three hits and two RBIs in the Trojans' 8-7 win over ASU Sunday afternoon.
(Danny Shapiro/House of Sparky)

The hangover from Saturday night's extra-inning game was apparent Sunday afternoon at Packard Stadium.

ASU surrendered 15 hits and allowed a pair of runs in each of the first three innings to drop the series finale 8-7 to USC.

Sun Devils' junior starter Darin Gillies suffered his worst start of the season, allowing nine hits and six runs (four earned) in 2 2/3 innings.

Gillies (1-2) also walked three in his time on the mound and Sun Devil coach Tim Esmay said he needed more out of the junior just hours after his team used seven relievers in a 10-9, 11-inning victory over the Trojans (15-15. 4-8)

"That was really his first big struggle this year in a start," Esmay said. "They did a good job. They had 11 hits after four innings so they came out and swung the bat."

The Sun Devils (17-12, 7-5 Pac-12) struck for three runs in the first inning off Trojans'  junior starter Nigel Nootbaar but the bats went cold after, unable to record another hit until the seventh inning.

Trojans' sophomore reliever Brooks Kriske pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings to earn his first victory of his career and Esmay was upset with his team's effort in the middle innings.

"We got our tails kicked from the second inning until the seventh in all aspects," Esmay said. "There was nothing going on."

Once the Sun Devils started hitting in the seventh, they came in a flurry, ending in a pinch-hit bases-clearing double from sophomore R.J. Ybarra to cut the lead to 8-6.

"He (Ybarra) is a really good hitter," Esmay said. "He's a big weapon whether he's playing in the lineup or sitting hot off the bench."

Sophomore third baseman Dalton DiNatale homered on the first pitch of the eighth inning to cut the Trojan lead to one, but the Sun Devils were unable to bring the tying run home.

Esmay thought the Sun Devils were going to complete the comeback and sweep their first Pac-12 series of the season.

"It's disheartening because it was a battle to get back into that game," Esmay said. "We were in such a hole and to get back into that game and to not win is tough because we put ourselves in that spot and the momentum was in our dugout."

Instead, the Sun Devils remained two games back of Pac-12 leader Washington, who improved to 10-2 in conference play following a series win over Oregon.

"When you have an opportunity to sweep, you need to sweep," Esmay said. "No, I'm not content. We had a chance to get a game back in the Pac and we had that chance today so now we have to get it back somewhere else."

The Sun Devils return to action Wednesday night in a mid-week out of conference matchup at home against rival UA.