ASU baseball succumbs to Arizona 3-1, clinches first losing season since 1985

Along with a losing season, the Sun Devils also lose the series to Arizona

On Thursday Arizona State (23-28, 8-18 Pac-12) was unable to keep up offensively with No. 18 Arizona, and in Friday's game the Sun Devils' bats had little success against Wildcat pitcher Cameron Ming in a 3-1 defeat.

It's a different way to lose, but ASU has lost in all sorts of ways this season.

With Friday's loss, the Sun Devils are locked in to two dubious accomplishments: The program's first losing record since 1985 (even if ASU wins out, it'd finish 27-28), and a series loss to Arizona, who will head to postseason play with a 35-17 record (14-12 Pac-12).

ASU head coach Tracy Smith said that while the Sun Devils will finish the season with a losing record, he's focused on the bigger picture. 

"For me right now with the four remaining games, I want to make sure that the guys who are wearing this uniform are still playing, and playing hard," Smith said. "And there's a large percentage of guys who aren't here because they couldn't do that."

Despite the loss, the Sun Devils played a clean game that was well-pitched with no errors and loud outs from the batter's box.

But none of that would matter, as Arizona's Ming had a masterful outing that silenced the Sun Devils. Ming pitched a complete game, allowing one earned run off six hits and two walks, along with three strikeouts.

"He was locating the baseball on both sides of the plate, made some big pitches when he needed to," Smith said. "But take nothing away from him, he did a really good job and his defense played well behind him."

It was a scoreless game until the fourth inning, when Arizona freshman third baseman Nick Quintana grounded into a double play that scored junior catcher Ryan Haug, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. 

ASU retaliated in the sixth with a sacrifice fly from senior catcher Zach Cerbo.

However the tie was short lived, as Arizona added two more runs to the scoreboard in the seventh inning, both off RBI groundouts from junior center fielder Jared Oliva and junior first baseman JJ Matijevic.

Even with the win, the Wildcats could never settle into an offensive groove, mostly due to a solid performance from ASU junior starting pitcher Eli Lingos. Lingos pitched six innings, while giving up three earned runs and eight hits.

"I have no issues whatsoever with his performance tonight," Smith said. "He competed well and did exactly what he was supposed to do, which was give his team a chance to win."

While Lingos had an impressive night, he still felt extra pressure since Ming was so dominant on the other side.

"It's tough because you know when you're going up against another good pitcher you've got to kind of battle back," Lingos said. "So whenever our team scores a run, you've got to try to keep them from scoring. Whenever I give up a run, you've got to shut it down and make sure you keep it close the whole time."

Freshman pitcher Tanner West did well in relief, throwing two and 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball with two strikeouts and one walk.

The series finale on will start at 7 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. It will be ASU's final home game of the season before the team ends the year with a three game series at Utah.


Reach the reporter at mpharri7@asu.edu or follow @Harris_Mark7 on Twitter.

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