ASU baseball suffers blowout loss at the hands of Long Beach State

ASU found trouble at the mound in its second loss of the season, cycling through five different pitchers during the game

ASU baseball’s magical season hit a slight bump in the road on Tuesday, as the Sun Devils (25-2, 8-1 Pac-12) suffered only their second loss of the season in a 14-9 beatdown at the hands of Long Beach State (4-23).  

“I’d say this was a reality check,” coach Tracy Smith said. “I had a bad feeling about this game all day. I know this is a good opponent, and I knew we were a little shorthanded on the mound. It was just not pretty tonight.”

Long Beach State jumped on the Sun Devils' pitching early and often Tuesday night, as it collected seven hits and scored nine runs in the game’s first two innings. 

ASU freshman starting pitcher Dom Cacchione, who was making his first career collegiate start, got tagged for four early runs as he was yanked after allowing two hits, walking two batters and only retiring one. 

“If you’re not going to compete, we’re going to get you out,” Smith said on Cacchione. “I was probably more disappointed by the fact that he wasn’t competing, rather than the result he had.”

His replacement, sophomore Colby Davis, didn’t fare much better as the right-hander allowed five hits and five runs in his 1.2 innings of work. 

The ASU defense didn’t do Davis any favors, as a dropped fly ball by junior centerfielder Hunter Bishop in the top of the second allowed two runs to score. But Davis still struggled to find any consistency in his limited stint on the mound. 

“We knew that we were going to have some guys who didn’t pitch as much pitch today," sophomore outfielder Trevor Hauver said. "We were all excited for them to throw today, and they were excited too, but obviously they just didn’t have their best stuff today."

At the plate, ASU found early success with three first-inning runs after the Sun Devils saw hits from five of their first six batters. 

But as the game progressed, and the Long Beach State lead grew, the typically potent ASU offense seemed unable to put bat on ball as the team stayed mostly dormant until a five-run eighth inning. 

“I feel like we all kind of mentally checked out, which we shouldn’t have,” Hauver said. “But then, we started battling back in the game and we showed we had a little bit of heart in us.”

ASU simply wasn’t able to find a reliable answer on the mound Tuesday night, as Smith cycled through five different pitchers in the loss. 

Each pitcher faced his own unique set of issues, but they all suffered from a similar fate as all but one Sun Devil pitcher who appeared Tuesday allowed at least two runs. 

“Tonight was a wonderful opportunity for some guys to make some headway and put themselves in position,” Smith said. “Unfortunately for them, and for us, they didn’t take advantage of it.”

The one bright spot for the Sun Devils on the mound was freshman infielder Marc Lidd, who has been used around the diamond this season but saw extended action pitching in the blowout loss. 

Despite having only pitched one inning so far this season, the right-hander looked electric in his three innings as he kept the opposing team from getting a single hit.

“The guy who was in command and looked like he belonged, regardless of the score, was Marc Lidd,” Smith said. “The guy was ahead in the count, pitching impressively. We learned that about him tonight."

Smith said that the performance Lidd showcased in Tuesday's game might come in handy later in the season.

"He (Lidd) hasn’t had a lot of opportunities up to this point, and I think it’s going to help us down the stretch," he said. 

Overall, Tuesday’s loss to now four-win Long Beach State seems to be a relatively minor blip on what has been an overwhelmingly successful season for ASU. 

The Sun Devils' next game won’t come until Friday, when the team travels up to Los Angeles to tangle with the USC Trojans (10-17, 3-6 Pac-12). 

The rest is much needed for one of the smallest rosters in the country, and will be especially beneficial for a pitching staff that has given up 30 runs across its last two games. 

“This was a great learning opportunity for us,” Smith said. 

“We haven’t been in the position where we’re chasing, it’s come a little bit easy for us," he said. "So this was good to have to come back, to learn and battle, so guys can see those middle innings are just as important as seven, eight and nine."


Reach the reporter at Jrosenfa@asu.edu or follow @jacobrosenfarb on Twitter. 

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