Long before the first pitch Tuesday night, a plague of injuries and tired arms let the ASU baseball team know it was in for an uphill battle against Texas Tech.
Then when it committed three errors, walked six batters and hit three more, the squad saw its already diminished chances fly by.
Only a day after a four-game weekend and still without three battle-tested pitchers because of injury, the No. 11 Sun Devils (8-3) relied on the back end of its bullpen against visiting Texas Tech and consequently fell 8–4 at Packard Stadium.
“The younger guys are going to have to grow up, and the only way you learn those things is in an actual ball game,” ASU coach Tim Esmay said. “We just didn’t play a very good baseball game overall in all aspects.”
The bullpen threw 11 innings last weekend in Surprise, leaving most of its regular relief pitchers unavailable while freshman left-handed pitcher Adam McCreery, senior right-handed pitcher Joseph Lopez and sophomore right-handed pitcher Mark Lambson were out nursing arm pain.
Sun Devil pitchers allowed the Red Raiders (10-3) to put their leadoff man on base in each of the first seven innings.
“You can’t do that against a team of that caliber,” Esmay said. “There’s a reason why they are 10-3. I can live with them getting hits. It’s the freebies that kill me.”
Texas Tech threatened in the third inning with runners on second and third and two outs, but ASU junior centerfielder Andrew Aplin made a diving catch off a shallow blooper to save two runs.
In the Sun Devils’ half of the frame, freshman shortstop Drew Stankiewicz, in for the injured Deven Marrero, tripled with one out to set up an RBI groundout by freshman outfielder Jake Peevyhouse to give ASU a 1–0 lead.
After ASU junior left-handed pitcher Matt Dunbar pitched three scoreless innings to start the game, sophomore right-handed pitcher Zak Miller (0-1) came out of the bullpen in the fourth to face the heart of the Texas Tech order. The Red Raiders proceeded to scrape together four hits, including two doubles, to take a 2–1 advantage.
One inning later, with ASU senior left-handed pitcher Adrian Gomez on the mound, Texas Tech added to its lead when freshman infielder Tim Proudfoot tripled to leadoff the inning and came home on a throwing error by ASU junior second baseman Joey DeMichele.
The Red Raiders worked the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth inning off of ASU junior right-handed pitcher Josh Dahl, but only came away with one run to leave the score at 4–1. In the seventh, Texas Tech blew the game open with a four-run inning while batting around the lineup.
The Sun Devils narrowed the gap by two after the seventh-inning stretch when freshman outfielder Trever Allen doubled with two outs to drive in two runners, but the team could only muster one more run the rest of the night.
“When you have the situation we had tonight and then things also don’t go your way, it’s a tough situation to battle back from,” Esmay said. “It wasn’t ideal for us tonight, but we learned some (lessons) that are going to help us down the road.”
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