SURPRISE, Ariz. – James McDonald had a pair of hits and drove in two runs to lead No. 25 Arizona State to a 3-2 win over No. 2 Arkansas on Thursday night at Surprise Stadium.
Arkansas drops to 7-2 with the loss, while Arizona State improves to 5-2 with the win.
Sun Devil starter Brett Lilek (1-0) threw five innings and allowing a run on seven hits with six strikeouts. Ryan Burr picked up his first save of the season, giving up a run on a hit and striking out four in three innings.
Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek (1-1) allowed two runs, only one earned, on five hits and struck out three in 5 2/3 innings. Jalen Beeks came out of the bullpen for the Razorbacks and gave up a run on two hits and struck out three in 2 1/3 innings.
Offensively, Dominic Ficociello led Arkansas at the plate, going 2-for-3 in his first game of the season. Joe Serrano and Tyler Spoon each had a hit and drove in a run. Spoon extended his hitting streak to nine games.
McDonald and Max Rossiter each had two hits for Arizona State. McDonald drove in two runs and Rossister had one RBI for ASU.
Arizona State struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. Kasey Coffman and Drew Stankiewicz started the inning with back-to-back singles. Max Rossiter then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play for the first two outs in the inning with Coffman advancing to third. James McDonald came through with a two-out single to left to score Coffman with the game’s first run.
Arkansas had a great chance to tie the game in the top of the second, but came up empty. Ficociello, Jake Wise and Jacob Morris each had singles to start the inning to load the bases with nobody out. However, Lilek was able to get out of the jam as he struck out the next three batters to leave the bases loaded and keep ASU in front.
The Sun Devils stretched the lead to 2-0 with a run in the home half of the third. Jake Peevyhouse drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second after a ground out by Kasey Coffman. Stankiewicz reached first and Peevyhouse advanced to third on a fielding error by Brett McAfee. Rossiter then blooped a single down the left field line to score Peevyhouse for Arizona State’s second run.
The Razorbacks broke through with a run in the top of the fifth. With one out, Matt Vinson singled to right and then advanced to third on a base hit to center field by Serrano. Spoon then went to the opposite field, singling to right to score Vinson and cut the lead Sun Devil lead to 2-1. Brian Anderson was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Arkansas was again unable to capitalize as Ficociello popped out to third and Jake Wise grounded out to short to end the threat.
Arizona State scored a key insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Rossiter reached on an infield single to second and then McDonald doubled down the left field line to score Rossiter all the way from first to extend the lead to 3-1.
Arkansas was able to put together a rally in the top of the ninth, but fell a run short. Eric Fisher hit a leadoff single and pinch hitter Willie Schwanke drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Vinson then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position. Serrano drove home Fisher and advanced Schwanke to third with an RBI groundout to second to cut the lead to 3-2. Spoon then hit a hard liner to center, but the ASU center fielder was right there to make the catch and end the game.
Arkansas continues play in the Coca-Cola Classic today when it faces Gonzaga. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. Central. The Razorbacks will start junior right-handed pitcher Barrett Astin (1-0, 0.82), while the Bulldogs will throw junior southpaw Marco Gonzales (1-1, 4.15).