Sun Devils dominate Arizona baseball to take series
In its first shutout loss to rival ASU since 2004, the Arizona Wildcats baseball team’s postseason hopes took another step towards vanishing Saturday night.
After falling 7-0 to the Sun Devils at home Saturday night, the Wildcats (17-25, 6-14 Pac-12) have now lost five of their last seven series and they are sitting in 10th place in the conference standings.
“I thought there was a little hangover from last night,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said.
The 2012 National Champions lost to the Sun Devils (23-16, 12-8) in a tight 2-1 game Friday night. A similar low score appeared in the works midway through Saturday’s game. But after giving up back-to-back singles Arizona stating pitcher Cody Hamlin finally hit a lull.
“It’s hard when you don’t score runs,” Lopez said about pitching. “When you score runs things are easier.”
Through the first four innings Hamlin had only given up two hits and no runs.
The strong start would come to an abrupt halt, however, as Hamlin couldn’t get past back-to-back hits to start the fifth inning. Hamlin gave up four runs in the inning on two RBI doubles to Sun Devils shortstop Drew Stankiewicz and catcher R.J. Ybarra.
The 4-0 lead grew to 7-0 when Hamlin returned to pitch to open the sixth inning. But this time Hamlin didn’t get out of the inning and he needed two relief pitchers to clean up the mess.
Hamlin (5-3) threw 96 pitches in 5.0 innings of work. He gave up seven runs on nine hits and allowed two walks. He didn’t received any offensive support
“It’s a little tough not getting ahead early,” Hamlin said about pitching without getting offensive support. “But it’s my job to keep hanging zeros and doing what I got to do.”
On the flip side, the seven run lead was kept safe by ASU starting pitcher Ryan Kellogg (6-2). The sophomore matched Hamlin through the first four innings and was likely able to relax once his offence gave him a commanding lead.
Kellogg went the entire nine innings and gave up seven hits and struck out eight Wildcat batters.
Only twice did the Wildcats get a runner past second base, and only three times did they get a runner to second base. The Wildcats only truly threatened to score in the bottom of the second inning. Arizona had the bases the loaded but failed to get a single run across. The Wildcats went down in order four of the nine innings.
Sunday the Wildcats will have the chance to score some runs and prevent a sweep as they play game three of the series. The rivals wrap up the series Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Arizona has 13 games remaining and four series left after this weekend. The final series is against the Southland Conference’s Abilene Christian.
The final three Pac-12 series are against a difficult No. 7 Oregon (May 2-4), and the subpar Bay Area teams, Stanford (May 9-11) and California (May 16-18), with the only home series of the three being against the Cardinal.
“We’ve had a lot of tough losses,” Lopez said. “And it wears on you—it does— and I understand that but what a great opportunity to prove what you are. There are a lot of challenges in life but man there are tremendous opportunities in life. It’s been a real frustrating year but my God what a great opportunity to stick out in the crowd.”
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella