Rough Friday night
Oregon scored six runs in the first two innings, ASU starting pitcher Adam Tulloch recorded just four outs, and the Sun Devils (24-26, 12-13 in Pac-12 play) had their worst day offensively in weeks, losing in blowout fashion to the Ducks (30-20, 14-11) by a score of 11-3 to open their final home series of the season on Friday.
Tulloch found himself in trouble from literally the game’s first pitch, which was whacked up the middle for a single by Oregon leadoff hitter Tanner Smith. Colby Shade followed with a ground ball to Sun Devils first baseman Jacob Tobias, but the freshman dropped the ball when trying to turn and throw to second, and both runners were safe on the error. After a popout, three straight Ducks whacked RBI singles to bring home the game’s first three runs, and only a perfect throw home from Kai Murphy in short right field prevented Oregon from adding a fourth.
The Ducks continued piling on from there, loading the bases against Tulloch in the second and getting RBI base hits from designated hitter Drew Cowley and shortstop Josh Kasevich for the second straight inning to bring across three more runs, then added another run in each of the third and fourth innings against Sun Devil relievers Jacob Walker and Danny Marshall. Anthony Hall added a solo shot off of Marshall to lead off the sixth and the rout was on.
“It just kind of seemed like guys were flat tonight for some reason or another,” said ASU head coach Willie Bloomquist, “and that was unacceptable. We’re better than that. We’re better. We’re a more intense team than what we showed tonight.”
Oregon enjoyed 10 walks from Sun Devils pitching as well as three errors from ASU’s defense, two of which came in the first inning. It marked a dramatic departure from how the Sun Devils had played over their past several games, attacking the strike zone and limiting errors in the field.
“I was kind of shocked with that,” Bloomquist said, “because we’ve been able to respond pretty well all year long. When the chips have been down and people have written us off, we bounce back pretty good… I figured we’d come out with our hair on fire a little bit more tonight.”
The Sun Devils’ normally potent bats had their worst game in weeks, mustering just three runs on eight hits. It’s their lowest run total since April 29 at UCLA, and their lowest run total in a home game since all the way back on Feb. 26 vs. BYU. Bloomquist ripped the way his team approached at-bats on Friday, something he usually takes pride in.
“If you’re gonna go up and roll over breaking balls on the first pitch, at least eight or nine times that I can remember off top of my head, you’re not gonna be very good,” Bloomquist said.
The silver linings were few and far between, but the biggest was a mammoth one-out home run from Will Rogers with one out in the bottom of the ninth that sailed over the wall of fame in left field. The solo shot was Rogers’ eighth homer of the season.
The loss snaps the Devils’ four-game win streak and moves them back below .500 in conference play. They remain in sixth place in the Pac-12 standings, two games ahead of Cal with just five games remaining in the regular season before the inaugural Pac-12 tournament starts on May 25.