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Defense and Big Hits Elude Sun Devils in SDSU Finale

Mar 6, 2022

SAN DIEGO – Sun Devil Baseball gifted San Diego State three runs in a three-error first inning and struggling to find hits with runners in scoring position as ASU dropped the series finale to the Aztecs, 4-3, on Sunday at Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego.
 
After taking the series yesterday, ASU was looking for its first series sweep of the year – and the first sweep of SDSU in an Aztec home series by any team since 2016. 
 
But the Sun Devils essentially spotted SDSU three runs in an error-filled opening frame and despite clawing back to tie the game in the fifth, could not find the big hit it needed down the stretch.
 
Ethan Long went 2-for-4 with a hit-by pitch and Joe Lampe homered for the second straight game. However, the bottom of the ASU order went just 1-for-11 with six strikeouts as ASU struggled to muster the big offense it had seen through the previous couple games come to fruition. 
 
Boyd Vander Kooi was limited in his first start since 2020 after suffering Tommy John surgery last year through no fault of his own. Jacob Walker tossed 3.1 scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts and three hits allowed. As a whole though, ASU's pitchers managed just a single 1-2-3 inning on the day. 
TURNING POINT
The turning point came right out of the gates on the very first pitch of the bottom of the first inning. After the Devils got an early 1-0 lead, Boyd Vander Kooi got a routine pop-up on the first pitch he threw in his return to the starting lineup but it was dropped in shallow left field for a leadoff error. Two throwing errors from the catcher would also come in the frame as ASU set a new season high for errors in a game with three – in just the first inning along. ASU manufactured three runs for the Aztecs, who took a 3-1 lead.
 BIG MOMENT
ASU would pick away at the SDSU lead and tie things on Joe Lampe's solo shot to leadoff the fifth. The Devils had other chances to reclaim the lead but consistently stranded base runners throughout the afternoon. That left the door open for the Aztecs, who got a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth, which would eventually score on an RBI single three batters later and prove to be the difference in the game. 
THE FINAL STRAW
ASU got the tying run into scoring position with no outs in the top of the seventh but couldn't move it any further from there. SDSU retired the final nine batters of the game consecutively – five of which by strikeout - as ASU was unable to mount any threat down the stretch.
NOTABLES

  • After this weekend, ASU has outslugged opponents .486-.365 for the season. The Devils have 32 doubles through 12 games (19 by opponents), two triples (one by opponents) and 15 home runs (seven by opponents).
  • Sunday's finale ended ASU's streak of four straight games with 10+ hits.
  • ASU has stranded 108 of its own baserunners in just 12 games (9.0) per game while batting only .243 with runners in scoring position and just .247 with runners on the bases period. ASU was 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position today – the lone hit coming in the first inning. 
  • It has offset the pitching rotations efforts in escaping jams, with the Devil pitchers stranding 99 runners in 12 games. The pitchers stranded 13 SDSU runners on Sunday.
  • ASU has been at its best on the mound once it actually gets to two outs, holding opponents to a .213 average overall with two outs and 3-for-11 today.

INNING BY INNING
FIRST INNING
The Sun Devils drew two walks in the top of the first and Nate Baez made SDSU pay with an RBI single to opposite right field for a quick 1-0 lead. SDSU made the Devils pay for three first-inning errors to score a pair of runs and take its first lead of the series at 3-1. Vander Kooi got a lazy pop up on the first pitch of the game but it was dropped at shortstop, kicking off an inauspicious inning where the Aztecs scored three runs on just two hits due to three ASU errors and two walks to take its first lead of the series at 3-1. 
 
SECOND INNING
ASU had an immediately response with a leadoff triple from Kai Murphy followed by an Ivan Brethowr sac fly to half the lead to 3-2. Vander Kooi got two outs in the second but walked the third batter and was relieved by Jacob Walker to keep his pitch count within reason as he continues to build back to full strength after Tommy John last season. Walker got an inning-ending groundout to keep ASU within a run.
 
THIRD INNING
ASU got a pair of leadoff baserunners but a groundout and a double play ended the threat without any damage done. Walker issued a two-out double that moved to third on a wild pitch but the senior kept him there with his first strikeout of the game.
 
FOURTH INNING
Rogers led off the frame with a a double down the left field line and took third on a ground out. But back-to-back strikeouts left him standing there. Walker gave up a pair of two-out singles to put runners on the corners but issued a harmless F9 to escape the frame unscathed.  

FIFTH INNING
For the second straight day, Joe Lampe led the fifth inning off with an absolutely missile, this time turning on a hanging curve ball and sending it off the Tony Gwynn banner in right field to even things at 3-3. ASU would end up stranding a pair in the inning, however. Nate Baez made up for some early blunders with a strike to McLain on a steal attempt after a leadoff walk. Walker would end up stranding a runner in scoring position for the third straight inning to keep things all square at 3-3. 
 
SIXTH INNING
ASU again got a pair of base runners, but again couldn't get the big knock. SDSU finally took advantage of their own baserunners with a leadoff double eventually scoring on an RBI single. Christian Bodlovich came in and stranded a pair to keep it a one-run game. 
 
SEVENTH INNING
ASU got a leadoff HBP that moved to second on a wild pitch but ended up stuck there. Will Levine came in for the Devils and put up the first 1-2-3 inning for either team on the day.
 
EIGHTH INNING
The bottom of the Sun Devil lineup went down in order. Things got a little hairy in the bottom of the inning as an error, walk and HBP loaded the bases with two outs but Levine got a groundout to escape the jam. 
 
NINTH INNING
The top of the Sun Devil order went down harmlessly, including a pair of strikeouts. 
ON DECK
The Sun Devils continue their road trip as the team heads up Interstate 5 to take on UC Irvine in a two-game midweek series beginning Tuesday. Both games are scheduled for 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. AZT. A live video stream will be available for both games, as well as a UCI radio stream. Both can be accessed at https://ucirvinesports.com/sports/baseball/schedule/2022