Sun Devils Drop Heartbreaker in Opener at UC Irvine
IRVINE, Calif. – Sun Devil Baseball again had no problem getting runners on base, but also again had trouble bringing them home in a tough 4-3 loss at UC Irvine on Tuesday night in Irvine, Calif.
The Sun Devils managed 11 hits on the evening but had just three runs to show for it. Sean McLain was 4-for-5 and Ethan Long continued to stay hot with a 3-for-4 outing as the two- and three-hole hitters recorded seven of ASU's 11 hits. Kay Murphy also had a two-hit day out of the eight-hole but ASU struggled to get a big hit when it needed and stranded nine runners on base.
Tyler Meyer had been exceptional in his first two midweek starts this year but had trouble finding the strike zone on Tuesday, walking five batters in 3.2 innings. Still the Sun Devils limited the Anteaters to just four runs despite some of the control issues and Christian Bodlovich was exception at the end of the game, retiring the final six UCI batters on just 16 pitches. The Sun Devils also stranded nine UCI players in the contest as well.
After the Sun Devils put up two runs in the top of the first, Meyer struggled with his control in the second and walked three batters in the frame – including a bases loaded walk to get UCI on the board. While ASU would punch another run across in the top of the fourth, UCI loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a single, a walk and ASU being unable to get the out on a sacrifice bunt.
Meyer rallied in the moment, getting a pair of strikeouts with the bases loaded and had UCI three-hole hitter Jacob Castro quickly down 0-2 in the count. But Castro put down a good piece of hitting and battled off a pitch into opposite left field for a ground rule RBI double that evened the game at 3-3.
ASU had a great opportunity in the top of the sixth with Will Rogers getting a one-out single and stealing second. Nate Baez drew a walk on a wild ball four that caromed off the backstop and over toward the Sun Devil dugout. Rogers tried to take two bases on the play and was easily thrown out at home for the second out of the inning. UCI made the Devils pay for the squandered chance in the bottom half of the frame with a pair of leadoff single and the go-ahead run on an RBI ground out to go ahead, 4-3.
THE FINAL STRAW
ASU had a golden opportunity in the top of the seventh, mounting a two-out rally behind a McLain single and two walks. ASU pinch hit with Jacob Tobias and the freshman put a pretty good swing on one to opposite left field by the outfielder was there to make the play to retire the jam harmlessly.
- The Devils got two doubles in the first three batters on the day, extending its streak of having at least one double to every game this season and multiple in nine of 13 games. ASU entered the game 12th in the nation with 32 doubles. ASU finished with three on the night.
- Jared Glenn retired a pair of inherited baserunners when he came in in the fourth inning and the Sun Devil bullpen has now inherited 59 baserunners this season and allowed just 19 to score (32.2 percent).
- Long and McLain have each found their stroke on this road trip after a bit of a slow start to the year. Long is 10-for-17 (.588) and also has three walks and an HBP for a .667 OBP while McLain is 9-for-17 (.529) with four walks and a .619 OBP.. Will Rogers has seemed to shake off some of his early struggles as well, going 7-for-18 (.389) while Kai Murphy has quietly gone 7-for-15 (.467).
INNING BY INNING
The Devils got a pair of one-out singles from Sean McLain (after fouling off several pitches in a great at bat) and Ethan Long (who benefitted from the center fielder slipping on a routine fly ball) to get a pair in scoring position. McLain would score on a wild pitch and Long would come home on a fantastically executed delayed double steal to give ASU a 2-0 lead. Meyer had a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of strikeouts.
The tables flipped in the second as ASU got a two-out single from Kai Murphy but otherwise went down unceremoniously in under 15 pitches. Tyler Meyer struggled with his command in the bottom half, despite making a great play at home to wipe a run off the board but eventually walked in a run to make it 2-1. He would get a key strikeout to leave the bases loaded, however, and keep ASU on top.
Déjà vu of a sort from the first inning and McLain and Long logged one-out singles but ASU would end up with nothing after a fielder's choice and a groundout. Meyer issued a two-out walk and single and Connor McGuire laced a full-count offering to left field but Will Rogers made the snag on the run to save a run and keep ASU on top.
Nate Baez got a one-out double and would move to third on a Kai Murphy single. Alex Champagne nearly gave one a ride, taking it to the warning track where it was good enough for a sac fly and a 3-1 ASU lead. The free bases would again rear their ugly head with a pair of singles and a walk loading the bases with no outs. Meyer came one strike away from escaping the jam after striking out the first two batters in the UCI order but three-hole hitter Jacob Castro laced a 0-2 pitch to opposite left field for a two-RBI ground rule double to tie the game. Jared Glenn entered and got a quick groundout to keep the score knotted at three apiece.
Ethan Long got his third hit of the night but ASU ground into a double play to end the threat. Glenn stranded a two-out single thanks to a nice diving play by Davis at first to keep things knotted at 3-3.
ASU squandered a one-out single and stolen base from Will Rogers, whose eyes got big on a wild ball fur that went almost to the ASU dugout and was got trying to come home from second on the pitch. UCI took advantage of a pair of singles to put runners on the corners with no outs and score on a groundout to take its first lead of the game at 4-3.
ASU would load the bases with two outs on a single and two walks by the heart of the order but a Jacob Tobias flew out to opposite left field to end the threat and keep ASU down a run. Christian Bodlovich stymied any hope for the Anteaters to get momentum out of that, retiring the side on four pitches in the bottom half to keep it 4-3.
The Devils went down harmlessly in order. Bodlovich capped off an impressive effort, recording the only two 1-2-3 innings of the night outside the first inning.
The Sun Devils got a two-out single from McLain – his fourth hit of the night – and the sophomore stole second but ASU was unable to bring him home.
The Sun Devils will take on the Anteaters again tomorrow, with first pitch 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