Timely Hits Elude Sun Devil Baseball in Series Loss at #16 Oregon
EUGENE, Ore – Key hits in key moments again eluded the #23 Sun Devil Baseball team as it dropped the rubber match of its Pac-12 opening series at #16 Oregon, 5-3, on Sunday in Eugene.
Ethan Long was the lone Sun Devil with a multi-hit day with two hits and two RBIs.
Justin Fall gave ASU five solid innings allowing just three earned runs despite taking the loss.
ASU (12-5, 1-2 Pac-12) had a leadoff baserunner in six of nine innings but ended up going just 2-for-19 with runners on the basepath in the contest and 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and that proved to be the difference in the game.
Emphasizing the importance of every 90 feet, Oregon (10-4, 2-1 Pac-12) was 11-for-18 in advancement opportunities to ASU's 5-for-21. Free bases again bit the Devils, with Oregon scoring several runs behind the help of passed ball, a leadoff walk and a one-out balk, walk and double steal.
The Sun Devil pitching staff worked in and around jams all afternoon, always keeping ASU within striking distance. The staff held Oregon to just 2-for-11 hitting with runners in scoring position and didn't allow many two out rallies, with Oregon going just 1-for-9 with two outs. The defense did its part as well, turning two double plays in the effort.
With the Devil bats going quite after a two-run first inning, Oregon's Robert Ashford ripped a leadoff triple in the bottom of the fifth, scoring despite an ASU double play after an HBP. Oregon got its much-needed insurance in the sixth, loading the bases with one out and pushing a run across on a fielder's choice that was fractions of a second away from being an inning-ending double play. The 4-2 lead was all the Ducks needed as their bullpen did the rest.
- ASU has held opponents to five runs or fewer in 30 of 34 games since Jason Kelly's arrival in Phoenix. For perspective, in 2019 the Sun Devils allowed six or more runs in 25 of 57 games on the year.
- Sean McLain extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
ASU got off to a hot start behind back-to-back leadoff singles. Drew Swift scored on an error while Ethan Long plated Hunter Haas with an RBI single to give ASU an early 2-0 lead. Oregon bounced right back with back-to-back extra base hits to start the game and scratch a run off. Fall avoided further damage as ASU got Yovan in a rundown and a flyout to end the frame with ASU on top 2-0.
ASU couldn't do anything with a two-out Joe Lampe walk while Oregon went down in order.
Again, Fall looked to avoid damage after issuing two leadoff singles. He got a double play to get within an out of escaping the jam with a runner on third but a passed ball tied the game at 2-2.
Kai Murphy worked a leadoff walk and took second with one out but back-to-back outs by the bottom of the order kept him there. ASU kept it tied after a leadoff error behind a flyout, a caught stealing and a strikeout.
ASU got another leadoff single from Swift but two popups and a fly ball kept them from capitalizing. Robert Ashford tripled to lead off the bottom of the frame and scored on a double play as Oregon went ahead for good.
Ethan Long's leadoff single was scratched off the board with a double play. Oregon took advantage of free pitches in the bottom half of the frame after a leadoff walk, a single and an HBP loaded the bases with one out. ASU game fractions of a second away from an inning-ending double play that would have kept the game within a run but Oregon scored on the fielder's choice to go up 4-2.
Joe Lampe's one-out double was left stranded. Oregon loaded the bases again behind an intention walk, a walk and a single but Cam Dennie was able to get out of it unscathed.
ASU got back within a run after Hunter Jump led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout, scoring on Ethan Long's sac fly. But Oregon tacked the insurance run right back after a double steal following a one-out walk and single that led to a sac fly to make it 5-3.
Sam Ferri reached on a leadoff walk but ASU couldn't do anything with it as the Oregon closer earned his third save of the year.
ASU will return home for a three-game Pac-12 series against Washington State beginning Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.