Banged Up Baseball Runs Out of Gas in Series Finale at Arizona
TUCSON – Sun Devil Baseball simply ran out of horses in the stable after a tense Territorial Cup Series at rival Arizona, falling 14-4 in the series finale on Sunday in Tucson.
ASU extended its streak of games with at least double digit hits to 10 straight games and 16 of the last 17. However, the Sun Devils only had four runs to show for 11 hits while the Wildcats managed 14 with the same amount.
Nate Baez recorded a three-run homer in the sixth inning to halve a 6-0 Arizona lead and get the Sun Devils back into it. But a disastrous seventh inning featured numerous walks, wild pitches, hit batters and errors to allow the Wildcats to score seven runs despite having just two hits to put the game out of reach.
Baez finished 2-for-4 with a homer and double - his Pac-12 leading 19th of the season. Ryan Campos also added two hits and nine Sun Devils got a knock but the team was simply unable to make headway on two hefty Arizona leads.
TURNING POINT – The Sun Devils found themselves in a deep early hole after a tough third inning in which Arizona managed three two-out runs in a four-run frame to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
THE BIG MOMENT - Nate Baez launched a two-out, three-run homer in the top of the sixth to cut the Wildcat lead and half and make it 6-3. It seemed like there was light once again for Arizona State, but the Cats responded by adding another run in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs thanks to a high fly ball that was simply misjudged in left field and dropped for an RBI double. The Devils were never able to come back from the deficit, as it seemed like that extra run the Wildcats put on the board killed the momentum for ASU.
THE FINAL STRAW – The Wildcats doubled their lead in the seventh inning. What was once a 7-3 ballgame, turned into a 14-3 ballgame by the end of the seventh inning. The ASU pitching staff struggled mightily with command, allowing Arizona to score seven runs despite recording only two hits and it took four pitching changes in the frame simply to record three outs.
- Joe Lampe and Ryan Campos extended their active team hitting streaks to 10 games.
- Campos recorded two hits in the effort to give him multiple hits in seven of the ten games in his streak.
- Campos did nothing to hurt his team-leading batting average in Pac-12 games, increasing it on the weekend to .391 - nearly 40 points higher than any of his teammates.
- Nate Baez's leadoff double in the fifth was his Pac-12 leading 19th of the season - good for top ten in the nation.
- His three-run homer was his fourth homer of the season, two of which have been grand slams and two have been three run shots for 14 RBIs on the four long balls.
- It also came with two outs to extend his team-leading total of two-out RBIs to 19 - notable as he has 30 on the season.
- ASU recorded double-digit hits for the 10th-straight game and 16th time in the last 17 games.
The top of the Sun Devil lineup went down silently with all three outs coming via the groundout. Vander Kooi was able to get a quick first out with a flyout into right field, but the next two batters would be trouble as he gave up a single right up the middle and Susac would make the single sting with a homer into left-center to give the Wildcats an early 2-0 advantage. Vander Kooi would get out of the inning with a grounder to Baez and another to Haas who made a good play on a short hop at third.
Both teams struggled to get on base in the second. The Sun Devils started with Campos hitting it into left for a single. Baez erased the leadoff single with a 5-4-3 double play to bring up Tobias who ended the inning with a grounder to the right side. For the Wildcats, Splaine started by shooting the ball out to right with an immediate catch for their first out. Bullard hit it to center, resulting in the next Wildcat out. Laliberte ended the inning by striking out.
Murphy started the inning with a groundout to the first baseman, but Rogers followed with a long single into left-center. Haas and Lampe could not capitalize on the one-out baserunner as they both struck out to end the inning. The Wildcats led off their half of the inning with a double, a sac bunt and a single right out of McLain's reach to pad their lead. A wild pitch would put another runner in scoring position. Vander Kooi's day ended when Susac got his second hit of the day off of him – a single. The Devils made a pitching change and hoped to limit the damage to just a run and Jacob Walker came in to relieve him and struck out the first batter he faced for the second out of the inning, but on the very next pitch, he gave up a two-RBI single. A walk and another single would give the Cats a six-run lead to end the third.
The Sun Devils were retired on six pitches as they all flew out for three outs. The Wildcats started the inning with Caulfield striking out. McClaughry reached on an infield single and was the only Wildcat hitter to make it on base. O'Tremba and Susac both hit fly balls into Lampe's glove to end the inning.
Baez started the inning for Arizona State with his team-leading 19th double of the season. Tobias was then hit by pitch and Murphy flew out to shallow center, but Rogers walked to load the bases for the Devils with one out. Haas laced one directly to the third baseman who tagged his bag and immediately made the throw to first for the double play to end the inning and the threat. Walker went back out for some more work and was able to escape an error and leave a runner on for the Wildcats with some flyouts into the windy outfield.
The sixth was a scoring inning for the Sun Devils. Lampe started the inning with an infield single bringing McLain into the box who shot one to center resulting in the first out. Davis followed, flying one out to center for the second out but the two-out rally started right after as Campos stepped up to the plate and dropped one into left for a single, moving Lampe to second. Baez was the game-changer for the inning as he sent a three-run shot to the left-field wall to put ASU on the board and cut the lead in half. Following the homer, Tobias grounded to third to end the inning. Webster went in and faced one batter and walked him, but was immediately removed from the game, coming out with the athletic trainer. Webster was then replaced by Christian Bodlovich, who served his first pitch to Caulfield, was able to get a quick out. McClaughry stuck out next, but gave Caulfield enough time to steal second. O'Tremba shot it in left but Rogers couldn't make the play with the wind, dropping the ball and allowed Caulfield to sprint home. Susac walked next, but following the walk, Davis shot it directly to McLain getting the final out.
Haas recorded his first hit of the day with one out, but the rest of the team went down quietly. The Wildcats doubled their lead by the end of the inning following some disastrous lack of command from the Sun Devil bullpen, allowing Arizona to score seven runs despite having just two hits
Davis singled and was pinch ran for by Kyle Luckham, who ended up scoring on a Michael Brueser pinch hit RBI single. ASU loaded the bases with two out and Will Rogers gave one a ride to deep left center for what would have been a grand slam at any other ball park in the nation. Unfortunately, Hi Corbett's bizarre dimensions have left center at 410 feet - the deepest part of the ballpark as the Wildcat left fielder made the play at the wall to keep ASU from making the score far more respectable. Graham Osman worked around a hit batter to mercifully not allow a run in the eighth.
The Sun Devils got a two-out single from Sean McLain but that was the extent of the action.
The Sun Devils will host a midweek tilt against UNLV on Tuesday at 6 p.m. AZT that is the second game of the home-and-home between the two teams this season. ASU then goes on the road to face a Top-25 UCLA program in Los Angeles for a three-game Pac-12 set beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. AZT as well.