PHOENIX, Ariz. – The No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils top the No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys 2-1 in their opening weekend bracket critical series at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. After the series the Devils’ RPI sits at 153 while the Cowboys sit at 175 after a dramatic series that saw two games decided by a run and the other game by only two.
In bracket critical series every little difference matters, especially when post season play is involved. Arizona State took advantage of the opportunity to make a statement for new head coach Tracy Smith and to avoid a slow start to 2015. Oklahoma State missed the opportunity to prove, at least to start, that the roster losses weren’t more than they could overcome.
If this series had been played at Allie P Reynolds Stadium the results might easily have swung in the Pokes’ favor. This series did reveal that both squads are for real and each will be a tough out all season, even if things don’t develop as ideal as hoped in the ball game.
Out Of The Gate
Arizona State had the edge in starting pitching getting two-thirds of an inning more per start with a 7.50 ERA versus the 8.68 ERA for Oklahoma State. The junior southpaw duo of Brett Lilek and Ryan Kellogg proved at least effective to open the season. Lilek lasted 4.2 innings with six strikeouts against four walks while allowing two earned runs on three hits while Kellogg hurled five innings with four strikeouts and two walks allowing three earned runs on seven hits.
Cowboys’ senior righty Jon Perrin lasted only 1.1 innings but allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks as the starter coming in pitching in the closest proximity to a staff ace. Senior southpaw Michael Freeman battled through adversity for the best start for the Cowboys on the weekend with 4.2 innings pitched allowing four earned runs on seven hits and a walk with three strike outs in Sunday’s win.
Devils’ starters averaged 11.3 K/9 versus the Cowboys’ 6.8 K/9 while the ASU starters combined for a 1.667 WHIP against OSU’s 2.251.
Bringing Power Back
Inexplicably, one of baseball’s best and most powerful offenses in 2014 was outdone by one of it’s worst as the Sun Devils’ out-homered the Cowboy’s 3-1, including sophomore shortstop Colby Woodmansee’s 10th inning walk-off in game one. ASU had a .462 slugging percentage while OSU posted a .410 of its’ own as each team had 10 extra-base-hits in the series.
However, the power guys didn’t produce for most of the series as Oklahoma State junior Conor Costello (DH) went 1-for-12 (.083) with an RBI and no extra-base-hits while Arizona State junior R.J. Ybarra (C) went 1-for-9 (.111) with two RBI and a game three homer in a comeback effort.
Table Was Set
Neither team struggled to set the table for the big guys as the 1-and-2 hitters in both lineups did their jobs. Oklahoma State table-setters did the best this series with a combined 10-for-26 (.385 AVG) with three walks and a hit-by-pitch for a .467 OBA while the Sun Devils got a combined 9-for-25 (.360 AVG) with two walks for a .407 OBA.
The telling number is that with the top two guys in the lineup getting on base almost half of the time for the Cowboys, they managed to score only three times while the Sun Devils were far more efficient as their top two got on 40 percent of the time and scored five times.
Preseason All-American Ryan Burr (Jr., RHP) was as advertised this weekend as he went 1-0 with a save after two outings in which he threw 3.1 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts while allowing three walks and a hit. Burr has a 0.00 ERA with a 1.201 WHIP and a 0.91 OBA. He threw the ninth and 10th innings for the extra-inning win in game one and closed the final one and a third innings in the series clincher in game two for the save.
The Tim Man
Oklahoma State senior Tim Arakawa (2B) put on a dynamic offensive display with a 6-for-12 (.500 AVG) series with a double, sac hit, stolen base, three runs scored, two runs driven in and two walks for a .571 OBA.
The aforementioned Woodmansee had a jolt in his bat at the bottom of the Sun Devils’ lineup going 5-for-13 (.385 AVG) with two homers, a double, four runs scored and three RBI which included his dramatic walk-off in game one.
Arizona State junior Jordan Aboites (LHP, 2B) had an amazing game two and a solid series overall contributing at the plate and on the hill. In game two, Aboites went 2-for-4 (4-for-14 overall, .286 AVG) with a run scored and two key RBI while also contributing on the mound by hurling 2.2 scoreless innings with two strikeouts while allowing three hits and no walks.
Oklahoma State sophomore Kevin Bradley went 4-for-9 (.444 AVG) with a homer, a double, three sac flies, five RBI and two runs scored with a .583 OBA.
Cowboys’ sophomore reliever Remey Reed (RHP) made two relief appearances hurling four scoreless innings while allowing only two hits, one of which was a solid eighth-inning hold in Oklahoma State’s game three win.
Neither team did anything to hurt post-season chances but did manage to expose to weaknesses and inconsistencies that, due to the nature of the baseball schedule, must be addressed and corrected on the fly.