PHOENIIX — Arizona State (18-20, 5-10 Pac-12) fell 8-6 at the hands of Cal State Bakersfield (20-15) on Sunday afternoon.
With Hunter Bishop on second base and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Taylor Lane hit a liner to right field that had Bishop racing to home. Had it dropped for a base hit he would have scored, but right-fielder Sergio Robles grabbed it and fired the ball to second base to get Bishop out surrendering the Sun Devils’ comeback hopes and ending the game in a double play.
“That’s just not understanding the game,” said ASU manager Tracy Smith angrily. “You’re down two runs, it means nothing. Your run means absolutely nothing. To get doubled off in a situation like that is inexcusable.”
While the score stood as an offensive contest late in the game, it was pitching that dictated the game early.
Just seven hits and two runs stood on the scoreboard in what was a 1-1 pitcher’s affair until an action packed 10-run, 10-hit six sixth inning that brought the Sun Devils and Roadrunners to a 6-6 tie.
Senior right-hander Eder Erives tied his longest start this season (five innings) allowing four runs on six hits before ending his start in a disastrous five-run sixth inning.
After allowing three straight hits in the sixth without recording an out, right-hander Ryan Hingst gave up two earned runs over three batters and usual catcher — Sam Ferri, made his pitching debut to end the run filled top half of the sixth inning.
Ferri gave up no runs to his stat total, but allowed two RBI singles before retiring two consecutive batters. It was his first time on the mound since high school and he came in with runners at the corners and one out.
“I wanted to see it in a quote on quote real situation,” Smith said. “We’ve been really inconsistent in the middle of the backend just pitching wise basically all season... We’ve looked at him in some simulated games earlier in the week — just to get him out there, so you saw today he has a chance to help us down the stretch.”
Left-hander Reagan Todd gave up a run in each the seventh and eighth innings to allow CSUB to further it’s lead, 8-6.
After not giving up a single run all weekend, the bullpen allowed four runs on 10 hits on Sunday. The bullpen’s lack of durability is due to injury and inconsistent performances.
“Unfortunately because of injury and circumstances of guys just not getting it done yet, it’s forced our hand a little bit and has got us back down to that play Friday, Saturday, try to win it, and figure it out on Sunday mode.”
Despite the loss, Arizona State still sewed together six runs on eight hits with offense coming evenly throughout the lineup. Six of nine batters earned hits and all six runs were scored by different Sun Devils.
One player in particular though had a bigger impact at the plate and chose a special day to do so.
On his 20th birthday, Gage Canning went 3-for-4 with a run scored snatching five balls in the right field, including this tremendous face-planting catch.
T4 | Birthday boy @gagecanning catching lazy fly balls.https://t.co/L8clcJvLPf— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) April 23, 2017
“He comes to play every day,” Smith said of Canning. “You want to tell guys, particularly the younger guys, ‘this is the way to do it,’ and I think he led tremendously.”
The Sun Devils re-enter conference play as winners in six of their last eight as they travel to Eugene, Ore. to face the Oregon Ducks (23-12, 6-8 Pac-12) who sit eighth in the Pac-12 standings.