PHOENIX—Mahlik Jones posted three hits with three runs batted in and got the win in relief as the Roadrunners defeated Arizona State 8-6 Sunday afternoon.
“This was an excellent team win,” said CSUB interim head coach Jeremy Beard.
Jones drove in the first run of the game when he homered to left with one out in the top of the second. Cage Canning made a catch at the right field wall on a Ryan Grotjohn shot in the top of the fourth. The Sun Devils rode the momentum as ASU tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Lyle Lin reached on an infield single. Ryan Lilliard successfully sacrifice Lin to second. Lin advanced to third on an Aaron Charles wild pitch before Carter Aldrete made it 1-1 with a sac fly to left.
Mark Pena led off the CSUB sixth with an infield single. Andrew Penner singled to center that allowed Pena to race to third. David Metzgar extended his hitting streak to 17 with a single to left that scored Pena. That chased ASU starter Eder Ervies. Max Carter worked out a four-pitch walk against ASU reliever Ryan Hingst. Grotjohn grounded into a 4-6 fielder’s choice, but Penner scored on the play. Jones singled through the left side to plate Metzgar. Grotjohn advanced to third on the play.
Arizona State went to the bullpen for the second time, bringing in Sam Ferri to face Cole Valletta. Ferri, in his pitching debut, allowed a Valletta RBI single that drove in Grotjohn. Pinch hitter Jake Ortega extended the lead with a single through the right side that scored Jones. With the infield playing up, Brandon Heinrich grounded out to third as the runners stayed at their respective bases. Pena batted for the second time. He got up in the count 3-1 before swinging away and popping out to right to end the inning.
Charles limited ASU to four hits in the first five innings. The Sun Devils struck back in the bottom of the sixth. Canning recorded his third hit of the day and his 10th of the series to begin the inning. Andrew Shaps singled through the right side. Lin walked to load the bases. With the Charles count 1-0 on Lillard, Jones relieved the freshman. Lillard, the ASU clean-up hitter, hit a blooper to right, which held the runners long enough to only allow one run to score. Aldrete hit a shot into the right center gap that Valletta tracked down and threw back to second to double off Lin. After Zach Cerbo walked, Hunter Bishop hit a three-run home run to tie the game at six.
“Aaron pitched very well and showed a lot of poise for a freshman in this environment,” Beard said.
Reagan Todd started the seventh on the mound for the Sun Devils and gave up a Penner single. Metzgar grounded into the eighth Arizona State double play of the series. Carter and Grotjohn kept the rally going as they recorded back-to-back singles. Todd appeared to have worked his way out of the jam by getting Jones to hit a grounder to short. Grotjohn beat Aldrete’s flip to second as Carter scored on the play. Jones posted his third hit of the game on the play. Pinch-hitter Christian Deaton struck out looking to conclude matters.
CSUB closer Naithen Dewsnap entered the contest looking for a nine-out save. He recorded the first two outs of the seventh before he hit Shaps. On the first pitch to Lin, Shaps was thrown trying to steal second.
Heinrich singled with one out in the eighth. Pena beat out a slow roller to third for a single. With two runners on, Penner recorded, his third hit of the day with an opposite single to right that loaded the bases. Metzgar’s sacrifice fly plated Heinrich as Pena made it to third. Jake Godfrey relieved Todd. Carter grounded out on his second pitch to get the Sun Devils out of the frame.
Dewsnap set Arizona State down in order in the bottom of the eighth and got the first out of the ninth. Bishop reached first on a Dewnsap fielding error. On the first pitch to Taylor Lane, Bishop moved to second when Dewnsap uncorked a wild pitch. Lane hit a fly ball to deep right.
Sergio Robles, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth, tracked the ball down for the second out. Bishop, who was running on the play, rounded third. Robles threw behind him to Metzgar who threw onto Grojtohn to complete the double play and give the ‘Runners their 20th victory of the season.
Dewsnap completed the nine-out save, tying the CSUB school record for most saves in a season with eighth. Martin Media established the record with eight in 2011. He did not allow a hit and struck out two, needing 37 pitches to get through his longest outing of the season.
CSUB outhit the Sun Devils 16-8. Canning led Arizona State (18-20) by going 3-for-4. He was 10-of-13 in the series. Metzgar walked with two outs in the top of the first, Metzgar has reached base in 32 consecutive games. Jeremy Rodriguez set the school record in 2010 when he reached base in 35 straight games. His 17-game hitting streak is the fourth longest in school history. Jones charted a 3-for-5 day with three RBI’s. Valletta and Pena both had two hits.
“Dewsnap was flawless at the end of the game,” said Beard. “We were able to put our offense in motion and that was the difference today. These kids play every pitch and we know that this series could have gone either way. I am proud of our resilience.”
The Roadrunners (20-15) travel to UC Santa Barbara (17-20) on Tuesday. First pitch on BigWest.TV is set for 3 p.m.