Four-run eighth inning propels UNLV to midweek win over ASU baseball

The Sun Devils' three-game win streak comes to an end

No. 24 UNLV blew the game open with a four-run eighth inning and beat ASU baseball, 10-3, Tuesday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

The Rebels tacked on three more runs in the ninth but by then, the game had been decided.

“It simply was our inability tonight,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “When you issue nine free passes, good luck trying to win.”

In one sense, the Sun Devils (11-10, 3-0 Pac-12) inexperience showed in the late innings. The Rebels started redshirt sophomore Chase Maddux, son of MLB legend Greg Maddux. On the other side, ASU sophomore Alec Marsh made his third career start, and five freshman started in the lineup.

After ASU opened Pac-12 play with a resounding 3-game series sweep of the Oregon Ducks this past weekend, the team’s three-game winning streak came to a halt in a hurry against the experienced Rebels. 

“I hope this is a learning experience,” Smith said. “You are going to win most of the time if you pitch and play defense. Not saying they beat us, but you can probably pinpoint our losses to one thing; our inability to throw strikes.”

Redshirt freshman Dellan Raish (1-1) picked up his first loss of the season. 

A Rare Slip-Up

For the majority of this season, an inconsistent ASU bullpen relied heavily on the consistency of two left handers; Raish and sophomore Chaz Montoya.

Raish, the Sun Devils primary setup man, entered Tuesday’s game with a 2.08 ERA in 8 appearances. Montoya, the Sun Devils closer, came in with a sparkling 0.68 ERA and five saves in nine appearances.

But the Rebels took control of the game against both pitchers. 

After Raish relieved junior right hander Fitz Stadler and secured the last out of the seventh, he allowed a double and a four-pitch walk to start the eighth inning.

Smith went to the mound and elected to leave Raish in to face UNLV junior center fielder Kyle Isbel, who came into the night second in the nation in hits behind ASU junior center fielder Gage Canning. Raish got the first two strikes over, but Isbel connected on an 0-2 mistake to give UNLV the lead back.

“You get a guy 0-2, we can’t hang a breaking ball,” Smith said.

After the next batter struck out, Montoya relieved Raish and walked the next batter to load the bases. A bases clearing three-run triple by junior left fielder Max Smith opened the floodgates at 7-3.

“If you go back and look at our losses this year, you can probably pinpoint it to one thing: our inability to throw strikes,” Smith said. “So when you do that, it makes it very very difficult to win.”

Inconsistency Proves Fatal

Marsh gave up only two hits in five innings, but four walks did him in. He worked around two of them in the second, but the third was a different story.

After Marsh walked two batters for the second consecutive inning, Isbel rocketed the first pitch he saw over the center field fence for a three-run home run, giving the Rebels a 3-0 lead in the third. The home run occurred right after a mound visit.

“I don’t mind the kid’s three-run homer in the third inning; I mind the two walks before that,” Smith said. “Make them do that.”

The Sun Devils offense scored two runs in the third and one in the fifth to tie the game up at three, but the bullpen could not keep the team in position to win.

But, Smith said he still feels good about the team overall, if they can get the bullpen piece figured out. 

“We’re going to roll Sam Romero out there on Friday and give us a chance to win at UCLA,” Smith said.

Up Next

ASU baseball will hit the road for the first time since March 6 to begin a three-game series against No. 17 UCLA on Friday night at 7 p.m.


Reach the reporter at jpjacqu1@asu.edu or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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