"I played in a death metal band. People either loved us or they hated us, or they thought we were okay." -- Mitch Hedberg
This is not a bad Arizona State baseball team.
In just the past two weeks, the Sun Devils have swept a solid Stanford team on the road and taken two of three from nationally-ranked California. But just when some thought the club had turned a corner, Tuesday night happened.
The Maroon and Gold (23-15) were outplayed in every sense of the word against rival Arizona tonight, dropping the second game of the season series 8-0 to the Wildcats (27-14). The contest reminded everyone that while ASU may not be a bad baseball team, they still have a long, long way to go.
"In midweek games, we don't typically have swing and miss stuff," said head coach Tracy
Smith after the loss. "There's going to be balls put in play, and we have to make those plays. We just didn't do that."
There was plenty of excitement in the air at Phoenix Municipal Stadium prior to the start of Tuesday's game.
Rick Monday, the former Sun Devil who made "The Greatest Play In Baseball History", was honored before the night began, and the ballpark was abuzz with Arizona in town. That buzz, however, would quickly die, thanks to an RBI single from cleanup man Ryan Aguilar in the top half of the first.
"I tell people all the time, when you're at Arizona State you are going to have a lot of (outside) stuff going on," Smith said.
Wildcat starter Kevin Ginkel took the mound in the bottom half of the frame and quickly retired Arizona State's batters in order, setting the tone for a night that would ultimately belong to him.
Ginkel commanded the strike zone all game long, dominating the Sun Devil offense for inning, after inning, after inning. He took a perfect game all the way to the bottom of the seventh before Andrew Snow finally reached base via a base hit that ricocheted off Ginkel's glove.
Call this a Snow Mo' No-Nohttps://t.co/bsJgkDDaCT— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) April 27, 2016
"I am a little frustrated with our players because he only had one pitch," Smith said. "The kid threw well and showed a good plus fastball, but we should be good enough that a one-pitch guy doesn't handle us for nine innings. That is my disappointment from an offensive standpoint."
By the time Snow finally got to the right-hander, the visitors from Tucson held a 5-0 lead and there was little doubt in the pending outcome. The deficit originally grew from one run to three after a pair of RBI singles in the fourth inning, and the powerful Bobby Dalbec made the score 5-0 with a two-run blast to straightaway center field in the following frame.
Two scoreless innings followed for both clubs, but Arizona's offense wasn't quite ready to call it a night. Three runs were added over the course of the eighth and ninth innings, upping the Arizona State deficit to eight runs.
The home team's second hit of the game finally came in the bottom of the ninth, with Gage Canning slicing a ball through the left side of the infield. Canning, however, would never make it all the way around the basepaths, giving Ginkel and the Wildcats a shutout victory to even the season series at 1-1.
"We have been up and down all year," said Smith. "It would have been nice to come out and keep things rolling, especially against your rival, but that didn't happen. So we can either sit and lament about it or get ready to go again this weekend."
They will try and get back on track this weekend against New Mexico at Phoenix Muni. The three game series will begin on Friday night at 6:30 p.m.