Tough finish to a promising end
Arizona State’s (22-13, 10-8 Pac-12) last-effort rally wasn’t enough on Sunday. The Sun Devils scored four ninth-inning runs to take a two-run lead, but Utah (10-23, 5-13) answered right back.
The Utes won 7-6 after plating three runs in the bottom half to walk-off the series finale.
For eight innings, the ASU offense was silent. It managed just four hits, manufacturing two runs as they struggled to find rhythm against Utah starter David Watson.
That finally changed in the ninth. An onslaught of singles preceded a Hunter Haas one-out, two-run double down the first base line.
A jubilant ASU dugout greeted Seth Nager and Ethan Long as they represented the tying and go-ahead runs. Kai Murphy’s infield single bounced off the first base bag and into short right field, tacking on an insurance run making it 6-4 in favor of ASU.
Will Levine, who has pitched well for ASU as of late, was called upon to close the game once the Sun Devils took the improbable ninth-inning lead.
Before Levine recorded an out, the game was tied on a two-run towering blast to center off the bat of Christopher Rowan Jr.
Arizona State coach Tracy Smith elected to stick with Levine to try to and get the game to extras, but the Utes had other plans.
Rykker Tom singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, representing the game-winning run. Shea Kramer delivered the final blow with a single to bring in Tom.
Christian Bodlovich got the start for ASU but didn’t last long. After 3.1 innings, it became a bullpen game for the Sun Devils, something that has become very routine for the pitching-depleted squad.
Bodlovich didn’t help himself in the first, walking the leadoff man with a full count. Utah made it hurt one batter later, as they struck first on a Jayden Kiernan RBI-single.
The ASU arms settled down after the early Utah run, as Bodlovich, Brock Peery, and Graham Osman combined for a scoreless three frames in the second, third and fourth innings.
Smith used six pitchers in the contest, with Cam Dennie and Brady Corrigan rounding out the brigade.
The Utes extended their early lead in the home half of the fifth. Peery gave up a sharp single to begin the threat, before a beautifully placed bunt put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Kiernan then added to his RBI total, lacing another run scoring single to right. Kai Roberts then sent Peery to the showers with a hard hit RBI single of his own, giving Utah a 3-0 lead.
The ASU defense flexed its muscles again on Sunday, in the form of three beautiful relays. Three Utes were cut down at the plate.
Offensively, a trio of freshmen logged two hits each. Jack Moss, Hunter Haas, and Ethan Long continued their successful freshman campaigns. Long, who homered three times in the series’ first two games, finished the weekend going 6-10 with a walk.
While they’re done with the Utes, ASU will remain in the state to take on BYU in Provo, Utah on Monday. It will be the first of four straight non-conference games for the Sun Devils, as they host Rhode Island in a three-game set starting on April 30.