PHOENIX - Arizona State’s matchup with No. 14 Stanford on Saturday night went by a similar script as Friday night’s tilt - with the same disappointing result for the Sun Devils.
Despite putting together an offensive showcase in the latter innings - just as it did Friday - ASU’s late output wasn’t enough to make up an early 11-0 deficit as the Cardinal held on for a 13-8 win.
The loss drops the Sun Devils’ record to 19-24 (6-14 Pac-12) heading into the season’s final stretch.
“To fall back 11-0 and make that team get their closer up - that’s definitely a positive that the team didn’t just quit,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “A loss is a loss no matter how you slice it, but the good part about that was the guys kept going.”
Arizona State’s defeat wasn’t just about the game. First pitch occurred only hours after news broke that Ryan Lillard and Andrew Shaps - two junior outfielders who were vital cogs in the lineup through the majority of the 2017 season - were no longer with the team. Senior Jackson Willeford was also reported as having left the program, making for five total losses in the past two days (pitchers Zach Dixon and Chris Isbell are no longer with the team), leaving ASU short on bodies and short on explanation.
“When you’ve chosen to be a part of this,” Smith said, “there’s performance expectations, there’s behavioral expectations, there are academic expectations and we’re all responsible to live up to that. Including me. And that’s what we did today.”
You can watch the full transcript of Smith’s post-game presser below, as he continued to address the recent player departures.
While most Sun Devils baseball fans were more concerned about the news of the player departures, there was still a game to play.
Eli Lingos (6-4) earned the start for ASU, but clearly didn’t have his A-game on him as the Cardinal put up a crooked number before the game even hit the third inning. Duke Kinamon corked a two-run bomb off of Lingos to give Stanford a 3-0 lead after the first inning, and the Cardinal only extended it in the second frame.
Still facing Lingos, Stanford chocked up five more runs in the second inning before the ASU starter was able to get back into the dugout, and by the time ASU scored its first run, they were staring up at an 11-1 deficit. The Sun Devils received admirable relief pitching from Reagan Todd, who put up four innings of four-hit relief to allow the ASU bats a chance at rallying. The Maroon & Gold offense obliged, scoring in every inning from the third to the eighth, but it simply wasn’t enough to quell the Cardinal.
Taylor Lane led the Sun Devils with a pair of hits, and Hunter Bishop and Lyle Lin each contributed a two RBIs.
After the game, Smith addressed concerns about how the team will move forward with the season after the recent turmoil within the program and voiced his desire to see more leadership roles filled as the year winds down.
“It’s funny, because leadership comes in different ways,” Smith said. “There are guys who are vocal leaders and guys who get it done by example. I think Gage Canning’s a guy who’s going to go out and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played game in and game out.
“When you’re in a situation like this where you’re struggling in terms of wins and losses, people respond differently,” head coach Smith said. “I’m kind of curious to see myself the kind of leadership that ‘s displayed over the remainder of the season under some difficult times in terms of wins and losses.”
Arizona State wraps up the series with Stanford on Sunday before heading out for a mid-week tilt in Tucson against No. 19 Arizona.