Slugging Start Dooms Baseball in Series-Opening Loss to Ducks
PHOENIX – Sun Devil Baseball couldn't shake off a sluggish start in all facets of the game, dropping the series opener to Oregon, 11-3, on Friday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Oregon took advantage of a single on the first pitch of the game and a pair of Sun Devil errors to jump to a quick 3-0 lead. ASU stranded a pair in the bottom half of the frame and the stage was set for a game that just wasn't meant to be for the Devils.
Joe Lampe extended his hitting streak to 19 straight games in his very last chance in the ninth inning. Sean McLain had two hits and Will Rogers recorded his eighth home run of the season - moving into a tie for sixth in ASU freshman history. Ethan Long and Josh Hansell tossed scoreless innings out of the pen.
The Sun Devils were dealt a difficult hand to start the game, going down 3-0 in the first inning. A leadoff single, and fielding error set the Ducks up for an early RBI single. The Ducks stacked another run on with a single to center. An error on the throw home moved the hitter to second and the lead runner to third so the next single could drive in another run. Kai Murphy caught the second runner at home with an accurate throw, but the Ducks would get a final single to up their lead to three. The Ducks' first inning would make the Sun Devils' task of getting back in the game strenuous.
THE BIG MOMENT
After giving up an initial three runs, the Sun Devils looked poised to eat away at the lead following a positive first inning. The Sun Devils were only down by two, but after the Ducks piled on three more in the third, the situation got much more difficult for the Sun Devils. Two walks and a double loaded the bases. A single through the right side drove a run, with the next single driving in the final two of the inning, putting the score at 6-1 before the Sun Devils had a second chance to hit.
THE FINAL STRAW
Two great plays from Cam Magee gave hope that the Sun Devils could find a way out of the third without any conceded runs. However, with two outs Jacob Walker gave up a single, moving to second on a stolen base. Walker walked the next batter on a full count, making way for the Ducks' number three hitter. The Ducks' hitter delivered with a single, to scrap the Sun Devils' plans of a quick and painless inning. Down 7-0 in the bottom of the third, the Sun Devils still showed fight with Joe Lampe and Nate Baez walks, and McLain single. The bases loaded, two outs situation confronted Conor Davis, and the Ducks' pitcher got the better of him to squirm out of what could have been an inning that could have changed the trajectory of the game.
On the first pitch, Tulloch gave up a single up the middle. The second batter reached on a fielding error at first base, and with one out, the first run was driven in. The Ducks would get two more runs, with a single down the middle and a single between Baez and Tobias. While it was a disappointing start for the Sun Devils, six Ducks reached base, meaning three runs were not as unfortunate as it could have been. The Sun Devils did not go down easy after falling behind early, though, as Joe Lampe hit a strong ball down the right field line, but an extension from the Ducks' first baseman saw an extra base hit turn into an out. Sean McLain was hit, and Campos, with a full count, smoked a single up the middle. With runners at first and third, McLain would jog home on a passed ball to get one back for the Sun Devils.
It was an inning that mirrored the first, as six more Ducks got on base, scoring three more. A leadoff walk moved to third on a double that escaped Will Rogers' diving clutch. Tulloch would get an out, but would load the bases on a walk. Tulloch's night ended on a single, putting it at four runs given up. No stranger to early and long relief, Jacob Walker replaced Tulloch. Walker gave up a single, bringing home two more runs. Two plays later, ASU would end the inning with a 4-6-3 double play. Jacob Tobias looked to put a dent in the five run deficit, but nothing went for the Sun Devils to chip away at the lead.
Cam Magee won some applause after jumping and coming down with a high bouncer to make a quick throw for Tobias to pick, to get the first out. Magee made the next play by diving to snatch a liner. Looking poised to get out of the inning unscathed, Walker gave up a walk in between two singles for another run. The third baseman made his third play of the inning, fielding a groundout. Lampe walked on eight pitches. McLain got on due to a solid single, and Baez worked a full count walk, but Conor Davis struck out, stranding the bases loaded.
A leadoff walk advanced to second on a single with one out. A flyout gave ASU two outs. Walker walked his batter on four pitches, calling Danny Marshall to the mount. Marshall walked in a run to put an eighth run on the board for the Ducks. Magee would flash some more leather, scooping a grounder for a much needed third out. With one out, Murphy struck a nice double to the corner of right field, but would not cross home plate, as Rogers and Magee both got out.
Both teams had uneventful innings. Danny Marshall continued on the mound for the Ducks' first one, two, three and scoreless inning. The Sun Devils had the top of the lineup at the plate, but the Sun Devils could not strike, either.
A leadoff home run gave the Ducks a ninth run, but Andrew Lucas came in to relieve Marshall, and worked around a single with no outs to ensure the home run was the only run scored in the inning. On the Sun Devils' side, Davis knocked a single with one out. Tobias walked to make it second and third. Murphy hit a fly out, but Will Rogers' hit in the infield forced a throwing error from third base to score Davis.
The Ducks loaded the bases quickly, with a single and two walks. A double play traded two outs for a run. Another run was tacked on due to a single, but Baez would end the opponents' at bats with a fielder's choice. The Sun Devils' bats made it a quick rest of a seventh inning with three pitches getting three outs.
Ethan Long entered the game, getting his first batter faced to fly out. Long walked his next batter, but Magee tracked a foul ball down for a second out, and the third out came from a strikeout. The Sun Devils went three up, three down to close the eighth.
Josh Hansell's shutout appearance in the ninth consisted of a fly out, strike out, a batter reaching on a throwing error by Magee, and a groundout to close it. The Sun Devils were able to string together a couple of hits in the ninth, including a monstrous blast from Will Rogers, putting him at eight on his first season as a Sun Devil. Lampe and McLain both singled before Bronson Balholm's groundout ended the game.
ASU will look to even the series tomorrow at 6 p.m. AZT. Kyle Luckham will toe the rubber for the Devils. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Arizona and available over the airwaves on KDUS 1060 AM.