Arizona State took a trip to Texas to square off with the No. 1 TCU Horned Frogs this weekend. The two programs last played this past postseason, when the Sun Devils were bounced from the 2016 NCAA College World Series following an 8-1 loss in the Fort Worth Regional.
ASU entered the matchup leading the all-time series, 5-3.
The Sun Devils came into the series sporting a 3-1 record after dropping their first game of the season in a midweek contest against No. 20 Oklahoma State. The defeat coincided with news that freshman right-handed pitcher Zane Strand would be out for the season after suffering an elbow injury against Northwestern.
ASU had already been playing without starting outfielder Andrew Shaps (suspension) and second baseman Jackson Willeford (hamstring). If absences weren’t concerning enough, prior to this weekend, Sun Devil baseball held a 5-13 record against teams ranked No. 1 in the country since 1995. The matchup proved quite the early test for Tracy Smith’s young squad.
ASU’s starting left-hander Eli Lingos (2-0) tossed six innings, hurled a career-high eight strikeouts, walked two batters, and only conceded two earned runs against TCU during Friday’s series opener. The quality start made way for the Sun Devil offense to carry the visitors to a bounce-back victory.
ASU trailed by one prior to a three-run fifth inning to take a 3-1 lead, highlighted by outfielder Tyler Williams’ second homer of the season.
The Sun Devils jumped out to a 6-2 lead entering the eighth inning. In the eighth, ASU tallied three more to take a 9-2 advantage, but TCU rallied with three runs of its own in the bottom of the frame to draw within four.
In the ninth, ASU second baseman Carter Aldrete drove in two of his three total RBIs on the day before scoring later on first baseman Lyle Lin’s two-RBI single, catapulting the Sun Devils ahead, 13-5. TCU smacked three home runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the effort wasn’t enough, and the Sun Devils claimed the first of three, winning 13-9.
The Sun Devils weren’t as fortunate on Saturday.
ASU starting pitcher Ryan Hingst (0-1) conceded three runs in the first inning, allowing TCU to take an early advantage it didn’t relinquish.
Hingst lasted 3 2⁄3 innings, giving up four earned runs on four hits and five walks, before giving way to right-hander Jake Godfrey. In the seventh inning, the junior allowed four more Horned Frogs to score, pitting the Sun Devils behind 8-1.
The Maroon & Gold scratched three runs in the top of the eighth following a two-RBI single from Aldrete and an RBI single from Lin. However, the effort wasn’t enough, and ASU dropped its second contest of the season, losing 8-4.
The matchup marked debuts for outfielder Andrew Shaps and infielder Jackson Willeford. Shaps started the game at centerfield after a five-game, team-imposed suspension, and Willeford pinch-hit for third baseman Andrew Snow during the eighth inning marking his return from a hamstring injury.
Godfrey was removed from the contest after injuring his throwing arm, but according to D1Baseball.com’s Kendall Rogers, he’ll be fine, per Smith.
The Sun Devils held a small lead through the middle of the game, but were unable to take the series’ rubber match on Sunday.
Tyler Williams and Carter Aldrete extended their consecutive-games with an RBI streak to four and three, respectively, during the top of the fifth to give ASU a 2-0 lead. TCU answered with a run in the bottom half of the frame, but ASU starter Spencer Van Scoyoc prevented further damage by getting out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam.
Van Scoyoc was lifted in favor of freshman Chaz Montoya (0-1) in the seventh. The left-hander struggled through his lone inning of work, conceding three runs on three hits and two walks, allowing the Horned Frogs to jump ahead, 4-2.
An RBI triple from TCU’s Austin Wade off ASU right-hander Fitz Stadler in the bottom of the eighth grew the host’s advantage to 5-2.
The Sun Devils managed to bring the tying run to the plate twice in the ninth, but neither Williams nor Andrew Shaps were able to bring them in.
The loss drops the Sun Devils to 4-3 on the season. ASU’s next matchup will come Tuesday, when they host New Mexico State in a contest scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.