Arizona baseball's struggles continue against ASU
University of Arizona men’s baseball might have faced its toughest stretch of the season the last two weeks, facing two teams: the UCLA Bruins and ASU Sun Devils, both ranked in the top 10 of the country.
The Wildcats weren’t able to win any of the games against the two teams and had a loss earlier in the week against the San Diego State Aztecs. The series against ASU featured a daunting task as coming into the series as the Sun Devils had only lost one game all year. Here are some of the highlights from the series against the Sun Devils.
The series started off Friday, with the Wildcats falling behind the Sun Devils early, and by the time the fifth inning rolled around, the ‘Cats were faced with a 4-0 deficit. Randy Labaut got the start for UA and was faced with the challenge of silencing the Sun Devil bats but ultimately could not hold them in check.
Labaut finished with a stat line of 6.2 innings pitched allowing seven hits, six earned runs, three walks and striking out five batters. The problem was the ‘Cats could not get their bats going for most of the night.
Sun Devil right-hander Alec Marsh got the start on the mound and delivered 6.1 innings only giving up three hits, two earned runs and four strikeouts. The Wildcats were able to get to Marsh in the sixth and seventh innings, with home runs coming from left fielder Austin Wells and first baseman Dayton Dooney. Arizona ultimately fell in the first game of the series by a score of 8-2.
Saturday night’s game featured Wildcat pitcher Quinn Flanagan, but the right-hander struggled, only going 0.2 innings and allowing five earned runs on four hits, two walks and one strikeout. The Sun Devils jumped ahead and had a 5-0 lead at the end of the first inning.
Flanagan was replaced by left-hander Gil Luna, who was quite effective in silencing the Sun Devils' bat, going 3.1 innings allowing just one hit, no earned runs and five strikeouts. Much like the opening game Friday night, Arizona could not get its bats going.
Sun Devil right-hander Boyd Vander Kooi got the start, going six innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. UA appeared to be back in the game when Dooney delivered a three-run home run, bringing the score to 5-3. But, that was all for the Wildcat offense, as the Sun Devils punched in three more runs in the sixth inning and led to a final score of 8-3.
For fans of offense, Sunday's finale was quite the game, as the final stat line featured the two teams scoring a combined 33 runs on 29 base hits and 21 walks drawn. Arizona struck first in the back-and-forth affair, scoring the first four runs of the game in the top of the first inning.
The Sun Devils quickly responded by grabbing three runs of their own in the bottom of the first. The game was started for the Wildcats by left-hander Andrew Nardi, but he was only able to go 2.2 innings after allowing seven runs (five earned) on three hits and four strikeouts. The ‘Cats used seven pitchers on the day.
Things weren’t much better for the Sun Devil pitchers, as they also used seven. The game featured the two sides trading leads throughout the 5-hour-and-10-minute battle. The ‘Cats had an opportunity to avoid the sweep when they took a 16-15 lead in the top of the eighth inning, but they were not able to hold onto the lead, as a wild pitch tied the game at 16, and then the Sun Devils were able to win on an error from the Wildcats. The loss meant the Sun Devils swept the Wildcats and improved their record of 25 -1.
The Wildcats are now 13-14 on the season, with a 2-7 record in the Pac-12. UA will look to put an end to its seven-game losing streak against the Washington Huskies at Hi Corbett Field on Friday, April 5.
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