Less than an hour prior, Jeremy McCuin cranked a 2-RBI single to left field in the seventh inning. Scott Mehan and Drew Swift came around to score, and, voilà, game over. Because it was the first game of the doubleheader, the game ended with a 10-run mercy rule.
Fast forward and hour and Phoenix Municipal was like the Twilight Zone. The Devils had on a new uniform, a new pitcher was on the mound — freshman Brady Corrigan — and instead of being up 10 runs, they were nearly down 10.
Corrigan was making his first career start, just as Boyd Vander Kooi did in the first game. He had run support after the first inning, just as Vander Kooi did. But unlike Vander Kooi, Corrigan’s command was off, and his defense was giving him any leeway in a what eventaully amounted to a 16-8 loss.
With one out and two men on in the second, the damage seemed like it would be limited, if not nonexistent. Hayden Senger hit a chopper to ASU shortstop Drew Swift, who was going to need to be quick with his throw to get the out.
He was indeed quick with his throw, but it came with no avail. The throw was wide, scooting along the wall as the first RedHawk run came across the plate.
A quartet of batters, one out and one run later, Miami (OH) had the bases loaded. And once again the damage looked like it was going to limited. Ross Haffey smoked a quick-chopping rocket right at third baseman Carter Aldrete, who was standing near the fringe of the grass.
Aldrete stopped the ball, but he couldn’t corral it. A dive towards the third base bag came a half second too late, and an inning that could have been stopped with minimal two-run damage was being extended.
Corrigan’s first collegiate outing was getting rocky, but it only took one more RedHawk before it went off the cliff.
Miami (OH) third baseman Landon Stephens had already faced ASU’s righty once that inning, but only managed a walk in his first plate appearance. In his second, though, he took Corrigan deep, sending the pitch into the rocks behind Phoenix Municipal’s green left field wall.
An inning that should’ve only hung a one-run deficit on ASU had strangled them with a seven-run deficit, in large part to simple errors.
“I’m sick to my stomach the way this thing goes because the defense piece of it we think is going to be a strong piece for us,” head coach Tracy “Skip” Smith said of his team’s four errors on the day.
Without the errors, Corrigan likely stays on the mound a few more innings, but his start in the first place wasn’t entirely planned.
Instead of the usual 45 minute delay between doubleheader games, the was only 30 minutes to prepare on Sunday. Just before the mercy rule went into effect, Corrigan was warming up in the bullpen ready to make an appearance during the first game. Smith said he just kept him out there since he was already hot.
But the fourth-year ASU head coach was pleased with Corrigan’s outing. “I look at his stat line and we just didn’t help him defensively. I wouldn’t have put that on him today.”
The Sun Devils spent the rest of the afternoon trying to claw themselves back into a game that spent eight inning out of their control.
Despite the six-run loss, however, ASU still had 13 hits and seven walks. After the game, Smith mentioned that one of the positives was that the Devils kept swinging. Swift went 2-2 with three walks. Spencer Torkelson, who hit a home run in the first game, added a pair of hits as well.
“Guys kept coming, kept trying to throw good ABs together,” Smith said. “So from that standpoint, I was pleased.”
All the good from the plate and the bad from the field will turn into a learning experience, and for a team that started four freshman in the second game Sunday; those are valuable.
Smith talked about the freshman “trying to do to much” both offensively and defensively. “When you press in this game,” Smith said. “It’ll eat you alive.”
“It gives you things to work on.”