Lead evaporates for Arizona in ASU loss

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Sydney Richardson and | The Daily Wildcat

Members of the Arizona's baseball team meet at the mound with Arizona coach Andy Lopez (7) during Arizona's 6-5 loss to Arizona State on Wednesday at Hi Corbett Field. The Wildcats saw their 4-0 lead evaporate quickly.

Tyger Talley pitched 2.2 strong innings to close out the defensive game for Arizona baseball, but it wasn’t enough to overcome No. 12 ASU’s 13-hit outing en route to a 6-5 Sun Devil victory Wednesday night.

While Arizona’s newest closer tossed 2.2 innings of no-hit baseball and struck out five, including striking out the side in the ninth inning, the Wildcats’ pitching performance through the middle of the game doomed them in the rivalry loss.

“Talley was very good, [Nathan] Bannister was good and [Robby] Medel was pretty good,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. “I thought the other guys out there were clueless. … That’s just really bad defense.”

The Wildcats (24-14, 9-10) used six pitchers on the night. Austin Schnabel (2-3), the UA’s third pitcher of the night, recorded the loss after giving up two runs and one hit while committing an error that resulted in an unearned run for ASU (26-11, 14-5).

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Arizona caught a big break early in front of its largest home crowd of the season — 4,184 fans. The Wildcats scored four runs on just one hit in the second inning to go up 4-0 on the Sun Devils.

ASU starting pitcher David Graybill left the game after one inning, walking three straight batters at the bottom of Arizona’s lineup in the second. Graybill gave up one hit and recorded no strikeouts in 27 pitches and faced eight batters.

Reliever Eli Lingos walked the next Arizona batter to put the Wildcats on the board 1-0 in with no outs.

Back to the top of the lineup, Scott Kingery turned a foul ball frenzy into a two-RBI double, driving the ball to left field and scoring J.J. Matijevic and Tyler Krause.

“[The coaches] told me to hit and run after [Cody] Ramer went up, but I said I don’t want to hit and run because I knew he was throwing four balls in a row,” Krause said.

But Arizona also missed a couple of huge scoring opportunities in the middle of the game, the first coming from bases loaded in the bottom of the third. A walk for Ramer and back-to-back singles by Krause and Matijevic set up a two-out scoring opportunity for Justin Behnke, but he hit a pop fly to center field.

Another potential scoring opportunity was spoiled for the Wildcats in the fifth inning, when Krause hit a two-out single with Zach Gibbons on second, but Gibbons tried to score and was thrown out at home.

The Sun Devils responded by stringing together a few runs of their own in the sixth. Trever Allen scored on an RBI single off the left-handed Schnabel, who came in for Medel after he gave up two consecutive hits. Schnabel then committed an error, throwing to third after ASU’s Joey Bielek bunted, allowing David Greer to score an unearned run.

The Wildcats allowed two more runs in the sixth inning to give up the lead, and the Sun Devils added another one in the seventh to extend theirs to 6-4.

It was ASU’s largest come-from-behind win this season.

“Even a win tonight wouldn’t have felt good,” Lopez said. “We gave up a base hit on a bunt defense, and we gave up a base hit on a pickoff. One tied the game, one put [ASU] ahead 5-4. I get worse as a coach every day.”

ASU third baseman Greer led the Sun Devils offensively, going 3-4 with two runs and a stolen base.

Arizona tallied just seven hits on the night, making this its fifth-straight game with under 10 hits. Designated hitter Krause recorded two of those.

“When we’re getting ahead in the game right now, its like we’re relaxing, just sitting down,” Krause said. “Especially the dugout feel, coming from the bench, we get up by four and we’re all juiced, and then the middle innings, we relax after we get a lead.”

Talley agreed with Krause, saying the middle innings are what is hurting Arizona’s defense the most right now.

“I would have thrown 250 pitches if it would have come to it,” Talley said. “We just gave them too much opportunity early. … I can’t comment for [the middle pitchers], but they need to get a little tougher.”

Arizona hosts California this weekend at Hi Corbett Field. Games start at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon on Sunday.

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