Arizona baseball on the brink of postseason exclusion after 10-5 loss to ASU
The Arizona Wildcats baseball team came into Friday night's game on somewhat of a mini surge, one that comes from a combination of obliteration an in-state little brother GCU, while also getting the upper hand on your hated in-state rival all in a matter of a week.
After beating ASU in game one of the series, the Wildcats offense couldn't keep up with the Sun Devils as they lost 10-5 in what was a back and forth game for most of the evening.
Whatever good feelings the 'Cats carried into Hi-Corbett field were quickly and efficiently put to rest as the Sun Devils did not waste any time rebounding from the series opening loss. ASU's Gage Canning lined a two-out shot to dead center against the wind that quickly silenced a excited and vibrant Tucson crowd early on.
The Wildcats quickly answered the visitor's opening strike as Alfonso Rivas doubled down the line, advanced to third on a fielders choice, then scored on a savy and calculated burst to home plate after an errant pitch that caromed off of the backstop. The Wildcats didn’t seem like they were done, as they loaded the bases in the opening frame, but left them all stranded. Tate Soderstrom’s at-bat came up just short as he struck out swinging to retire the side.
The Sun Devils weren’t as wasteful. They quickly turned around and loaded the bases themselves in the top of the second inning, yet unlike their instate counterparts, Hunter Bishop smoked a Michael Flynn fastball into the left field gap, which led all the baserunners to cross the plate with plenty of ease. Bishop extended the lead to four runs by scoring on a sacrifice fly to put the Wildcat fans on edge again.
The third inning was another flip of the script, as the Wildcats were again led off by Rivas who doubled this time down the right field line. This ignited a four-run inning that saw the heart of the Arizona lineup string together hit after hit which brought the waning Hi-Corbett crowd back to life.
Arizona has come from behind multiple times throughout the two games in this series but there wasn't enough left in the tank late this time around. ASU pulled away thanks to situational pitching and clutch hitting.
In a game that was a microcosm for the entire season, the lack of hitting with runners on base and the lack of depth on the pitching staff kept the 'Cats from making a final push. It's been a point of emphasis for Jay Johnson all season and these flaws have damaged UA's postseason hopes.
Not even participating in the postseason is out of the norm for Johnson, who has gotten Arizona to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two years.
The final game of the series will take place at Hi-Corbett Field at 4:30PM, as the Wildcats look to win the three-game series and the Territorial Cup Series along with it.
Follow David Skinner on Twitter