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No. 1 baseball falls to WSU

Freshman left-handed pitcher Mitchell Lambson delivers a pitch during a game against Arizona earlier in the season. (Matt Pavelek | The State Press)

On Easter Sunday in Tempe, score one for superstition.

Unlucky number 13 was at it again.

The No. 1 Sun Devils (25-8, 10-2 Pac-10) lost to Washington State 10-4 (15-15, 5-4 Pac-10) a day before the 13th of April, snapping ASU’s 13-game, home-winning streak against WSU.

While the Sun Devils were outplayed for much of the game, they entered the ninth down 5-4. Number 13, freshman infielder and catcher, Austin Barnes, was inserted at second base for freshman Zack MacPhee, who was pinch-hit for in the eighth.

The leadoff batter for WSU opened the ninth with a harmless ground ball to Barnes. Barnes threw the ball errantly to first for his third error of the season. As was the case in ASU’s two loses to Arkansas, a miscue opened the flood gates. WSU would go on to score five unearned runs off of freshmen Mitchell Lambson and Jordan Swagerty to squander the hopes of an ASU resurrection.

There were many missed opportunities for the Sun Devils.

Sophomore Seth Blair was rolling again through four innings with strike outs and clutch pitches with runners in scoring position. In the fifth, it appeared he had averted danger again. After a single and a sacrifice bunt, Blair had the WSU runner picked off at second base. Blair threw to MacPhee, covering second, who then hit the WSU runner in the back on the throw to third, scoring the first run of the game. Despite the bases being empty and one out, Blair would not make it out of the fourth. After allowing a double, a two run home run and a bunt single, Blair was replaced by Lambson.

Down 4-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, ASU would comeback. After singles from Zach Wilson and Riccio Torrez and a sacrifice bunt from MacPhee, shortstop Drew Maggi hit a Texas-league chopper over the drawn in third baseman to make it a 4-2 game. In the bottom of the sixth, ASU tied it up at four. Juniors Carlos Ramirez and Kole Calhoun laced singles to right field, and freshman Abe Ruiz drove them in with a double near the line in right.

However, ASU would be “RIP” with RISP.

In the bottom of the seventh, Drew Maggi reached on an error and advanced to third on a single from Matt Newman. Normally potent juniors Jason Kipnis and Ramirez both popped out, ending the threat. In the eighth, ASU had the tying run at the plate and a runner on second with two outs. But freshman Jordan Swagerty struck out, pinch-hitting for MacPhee. In the ninth, Newman and Kipnis both flew out to the fence with a runner at second. The Sun Devils also blew a run-scoring opportunity in the first, when sophomore Andy Workman grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

“We had ample opportunity to win,” Coach Pat Murphy said. “Seth threw the ball fine, but [WSU players] can hit. This brings us back to reality of who we really are. We are only a good club when we play really hard and do the little things.”

Despite the loss, ASU remains three wins up in the Pac-10 over Oregon State (7-2). Sunday was ASU’s first loss at home this year to an unranked opponent.

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