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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils suffer record-setting defeat to close regular season

It was an ugly game all around for the Sun Devils as they were demolished by USC in the regular season finale.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you ask any baseball manager, they will tell you that there are just some games where nothing seems to go right. The ball doesn't bounce their way, the calls go against them and the game just tends to get away.

For the Arizona State Sun Devils, Sunday was just one of those games.

The Trojans put up 12 runs in the first two innings, batted around on two different occasions and dominated the Sun Devils to the tune of a 31-9 victory on the final day of the regular season. The 31 runs are the most allowed all-time by an ASU baseball team.

"I thought it we held them to 25 we had a chance," Smith joked after the game. The ASU manager did not take questions pertaining to Sunday's defeat.

There wasn't much point to discussing one of the worst losses in program history. The Sun Devils played terribly, they know they did and now they can move on from it.

"I'm very proud of where we are at this point. To extend our season and get into postseason play," Smith said. "It's not even worth talking about this game."

If there was one silver lining to Sunday's result it was that the Sun Devils were most likely not in contention to host a regional even if they had beaten the Trojans. When the host sites were announced Sunday afternoon, not a single team east of Texas was selected to host one of the 16 regionals. Thirteen of the 16 host sites were from either the SEC or the ACC.

"I think it even lessens the sting a little bit," Smith said. "I think regardless of what happened to today we were not going to get to host."

The host with the lowest RPI was TCU (18). The Sun Devils will finish with an RPI around 40, meaning they were likely not in the discussion to host a regional.

Still, it was an ugly, record setting day on the field for ASU. On top of allowing 31 runs, the most in school history, the 22-run defeat marks the second largest margin of defeat in school history. ASU also allowed the second most hits in program history.

Eli Lingos started for the Sun Devils and failed to record an out, giving up four singles before giving way to freshman Chris Isbell, who gave up two singles and a sac fly before he was replaced by southpaw Reagan Todd.

It took three pitchers to get three outs and ASU found themselves in a 5-0 deficit before they came to the plate.

After Andrew Shaps hit his second home run of the season in the bottom of the first, the Trojans responded with seven runs in the second, sending 13 batters to the plate in the frame, to pull ahead 12-1.

After the third frame saw the Trojans put just two runs across, USC pounded out six hits, sent 13 batters to the dish and platted nine runs in the 4th to take a 23-2 lead.

USC scored at least two runs in each of the first six innings and four Trojans contributed at least four runs batted in. Senior Timmy Robinson, playing in his final collegiate game, went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and five runs scored. First baseman Angelo Armenta tallied four hits and five RBIs and Reggie Southall came off the bench and collected three hits and three RBIs.

USC scored in seven of the nine innings played.

On top of poor pitching performances, the Sun Devils just could not catch a break on Sunday. In the second inning a tailor-made double play ball up the middle hit an umpire and allowed USC runners to be safe at first and second.

Two batters later, Timmy Robinson hit a ball down the third base line that was called fair by home plate umpire Jason Venzon but replayed showed to be foul and Lars Nootbaar followed that with a triple that fell on the warning track because Gage Canning lost the ball in the sun.

The lack of depth in the Sun Devil pitching staff came back to bite ASU in a big way Sunday.

Lingos has not recorded an out in either of his final two starts of the season.

Todd allowed seven earned runs despite giving up just four hits. Eric Melbostad walked the only three batters he faced and Garvin Alston walked four and allowed seven earned runs in just 1 1/3 innings. ASU as a team walked 11 USC batters.

"Really, we have three pitchers (Seth Martinez, Eder Erives and Jordan Aboites) who have thrown consistently for us all year," Smith said. "We lose our ace on the first weekend of the season (Hever Bueno), you couple that with the face that our most dominant pitcher, Andrew Shaps, doesn't even throw an inning on the mound. Ryan Hingst has been down for the better part of the year and we don't have Tucker Baca, one of our most experience lefties."

The Sun Devils are much better than what they showed Sunday afternoon. They will get a chance to prove it next weekend in regional play and ASU will find out where it begins the postseason Monday morning at 9 a.m.