Arizona State baseball was again hurt by errors and walks Tuesday night, losing 6-2 to Arizona and falling below .500 with its third consecutive loss.
ASU (8-9) has scored a combined three runs in the past three games. The Sun Devils committed three errors and walked six against the Wildcats.
Arizona (10-6) won its fifth in a row in the only rivalry non-conference game this season, played before 4,587 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The teams will play their Pac-12 series in Tucson on May 17-19.
“It seems like in our losses, we’ve had that big inning, we’ve just not shown a strong resilience in cutting that off,” ASU coach Tracy Smith said. “We continue to add to that.
“You can handle a loss, going back to Sunday (3-1 loss to UNC Wilmington). I feel a heck of a lot differently about that tonight. I think we gave it to them. You’d like to make teams earn it. There’s too many free 90 feets.”
ASU coach Tracy Smith discusses his team’s third consecutive loss on Tuesday.
ASU largely self-destructed in the fifth, giving up three runs even though UA had just one infield hit. The damage was done via hit batter, three walks (one by reliever Fitz Stadler with the bases loaded) and a two-run throwing error by third baseman Gage Workman.
“He makes that play 999 out of 1,000 times,” said Smith, suggesting he favors Workman defensively at third over Carter Aldrete, who played in left field for the first time.
That left ASU starting pitcher Alec Marsh charged with five runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 innings. The sophomore right-hander came into the game with a 0.00 earned run average over 12 1/3 innings.
The Sun Devils trailed 6-2 going to their half of the sixth when with two outs, Drew Swift reached on an infield hit and Gage Canning walked. Lyle Lin stroked a 1-2 pitch for a single to short right that outfielder Matt Fraizer turned into a put-out by gunning down Swift at the plate.
Spencer Torkelson hit his ninth home run, two off Barry Bonds’ school freshman record set in 1983. The Sun Devils stranded two when UA reliever Preston Price struck out designated hitter Taylor Lane.
Aside from Torkelson’s homer, the ASU highlight was the return of pitcher Zane Strand, who missed all but one game last season due to Tommy John surgery. The redshirt freshman right-hander worked a successful eighth inning after hitting the leadoff batter, throwing 13 pitches in his first full college inning.
“That’s a positive for us,” Smith said. “There’s definitely going to be a role for him as we get into conference play. He felt great. You could sense it from the crowd and his teammates. It’s good to see him back. That kid has worked really, really hard. Through all the garbage tonight, the loss and however I feel right now, personally and for our program I’m extremely proud of him for everything he’s overcome to get back out there. I think he’s going to help us.”
ASU’s Hunter Bishop, out with a hamstring strain the past two games, pinch-hit in the eighth, grounding into a double play. It’s uncertain when Bishop will return to the outfield.
UA starter Avery Weems gave up five hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Down 2-0, ASU got on the board in the fourth vs. Weems with a two-out single by Lane, hit batter and RBI single by Alika Williams, his second straight hit.
The opening third of the game went quickly with quality pitching for a mid-week game.
UA did the only scoring in the first three innings, putting up two runs in the second on RBI singles by Cameron Cannon and Fraizer. Nick Quintana beat a throw from right fielder Trevor Hauver for the first run with Cannon taking second on the throw to get into scoring position for Fraizer.
In the fourth, Marsh stranded two UA runners, reaching on a walk and error, by fanning Travis Moniot to complete striking out the side.
ASU remains at home for the start of Pac-12 play Friday vs. Oregon (12-4).
ASU BASEBALL SCHEDULE: Sun Devils host Oregon in weekend series March 16-18
ASU BASEBALL: Sun Devils drop tight series finale vs. UNC Wilmington