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ASU baseball snaps winning streak in loss to UNLV

The Sun Devils drop their final game before conference play


ASU freshman infielder Hunter Hass (14) prepares to bat against University of Nevada, Las Vegas at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. ASU lost 10-9.

ASU baseball's nine-game winning streak ended on Tuesday with a 10-9 loss to UNLV.

Similar to last Friday's shutout victory over Cal State Fullerton, ASU rode the bullpen, using eight pitchers.

This time, the relievers were hit hard and conceded six walks en route to allowing a season-high 10 runs. Five Sun Devils allowed earned runs in six different innings. Collectively, it was not a sharp day on the mound, and head coach Tracy Smith said mistakes piled up.

"When you're in a tight ball game playing a good club, you can't make mistakes," Smith said. "We talked with the kids about it that we can't walk the lead-off (hitter). We did it in the seventh and eighth and they ultimately ended up scoring. And that becomes a difference of the game."

The Sun Devils walked the lead-off batter in the seventh and eighth innings, and five runs scored in those two frames. 

Video by Judah Brody

Freshman Joe Hauser got the start and allowed three runs in 2.2 innings, including a solo shot to former four-year ASU outfielder Myles Denson, who caught up with several Sun Devils on the field after the game. 

Smith does not plan to overanalyze Tuesday's game. He said that his pitching staff has done well all year, and having hiccups happens in a long season. His staff had not allowed five runs in any of the seven previous games.

ASU's offense kept fighting back, overcoming two deficits to retake the lead before the eighth inning. Five Sun Devils picked up multiple hits and the team went seven for 20 (.350 batting average) with runners on base. 

When ASU fell behind 8-6 in the seventh, the offense produced four hits in the bottom half of the inning, including an RBI single from redshirt freshman Joe Lampe and a two-run double to left hit by redshirt junior Drew Swift

Those last innings, it was good to see our fight back," Swift said. "For the most part, I thought we did a consistent job of having good at-bats."

Swift drove in four runs Tuesday, two from a home run in the third inning. Redshirt senior catcher Sam Ferri also drove in a pair of runs, one from a solo blast, his first since April 2, 2019. Freshman outfielder Kade Higgins picked up three hits in front of his father, UNLV associate head coach Kevin Higgins.

But, the bats went cold in the final two innings, and ASU fell to 11-3 on the year heading into conference play on Friday. The Sun Devils head to Eugene, Oregon, to face No. 20 Oregon, their first road series.

To make matters worse after the loss, Smith announced that redshirt sophomore starting pitcher Erik Tolman is done for the season, needing Tommy John Surgery. He will be the third Sun Devil pitcher this year to get Tommy John after redshirt freshman Cooper Benson and redshirt junior Boyd Vander Kooi. Smith said he will need to utilize bullpen games out of need going forward.

"We got to find a way to cover probably 280 to 300 innings," Smith said. "That's what we have to do. And we feel like we've got the pieces here to be able to do that. It may not be conventional."

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