PHOENIX—A five-run fifth inning proved to be the difference as Arizona State outslugged CSU Bakersfield 12-6 on opening night of a three-game series Friday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Mahlik Jones broke the seal for the Roadrunners in the top of the first with an infield single that scored David Metzgar. Ryan Grotjohn followed with a two-RBI single that scored Max Carter and Jones. Carter gave up his first runs in last 18 innings of work in the bottom of the first. With one out, Carter issued a pair of hits before Tyler Williams’ grounder to second scored Andrew Shaps. Carter Aldrete plated Lyle Lin with a single to make it 3-2.
Jones tripled with one out in the top of the third and came around on a Grotjohn sacrifice fly. After Cole Valletta singled, Mark Pena came back from being down 0-2 to ASU starter Chaz Montoya; he worked out his team leading 21nd walk. Montoya got ahead of Junior Felix before Felix recovered to single to left that drove in Valletta. Both Pena and Felix advanced a base on a Sun Devil’s passed ball. Montoya walked Brandon Heinrich to load the bases. Penner grounded out to end the inning.
Carter gave up his first walk since Mar. 31, a span of 25.1 innings, to Williams with two outs in the bottom of the third. With baserunners on at first and second, Aldrete doubled in the ASU pair to reduce the lead to one. Zach Cerbo tied the game when his double allowed Aldrete to score. Cerbo scored on Hunter Bishop’s single to give Arizona State the lead for the first time. Taylor Lane singled to left to send Bishop to third, as he took second on the throw. A jumping throw by Metzgar at second got Jeremy McCuin at first to get CSUB out of the frame.
Valletta reached on an infield single with one out in the top of the fifth. He stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Cerbo, the ASU catcher. Valletta scored on a Montoya wild pitch to tie the score. Valletta’s run would be unearned as Montoya got the next two outs.
Aldrete’s third hit of the game came with one out in the bottom of the fifth. A Cerbo single pushed Aldrete to third. Bishop returned the lead to the Sun Devils with a single to left. With runners on first and second, Lane reached on an infield single to load the bases. McCuin reached on a fielder’s choice to Heinrich to third. Henrich attempted to throw the lead runner out at home, but the throw went off Cerbo’s leg for an 8-6 score. Gage Canning tripled to the right center gap to score two more. Shaps singled to right on the first pitch from CSUB reliever Garrett Nimmo to score Canning. Nimmo ended the fifth by striking out Lin. ASU would add one more in the seventh.
"We competed well at the plate for most of the game," said CSUB interim head coach Jeremy Beard. "Max didn't have his stuff tonight. We had opportunities on defense to get out of a few jams and we failed to do it. Nimmo did a nice job of getting a double play opportunity and we didn't execute and they scored four runs behind it. ASU is a good team, we needed to take adavantage of a few plays."
With his walk with one out in the top of the first, Metzgar reached base for the 30th consecutive game. Metzgar’s streak is the second longest in school history. Jeremy Rodriguez reached base in 35 straight games during the 2010 season to set the school record. Metgar extended his hitting streak to 16 with a two-out single in the sixth. His hitting streak ties him with two others for the fifth longest in school history
Jones, Felix, and Valletta each posted two hits for the Roadrunners. The current Pac-12 hitter of the Week, Canning was 4-for-5. In addition to his three hits, Aldrete drove in three of the ASU runs on his way to a 3-for-4 performance. Lane also registered three hits. Cerbo, Bishop, and Lane each tallied two for the Sun Devils.
The CSUB (19-14)-ASU (17-19) series continues Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. with coverage on Pac12.com.