“Sit down, baby!” St. Mary’s right-handed reliever Michael Hobbs uttered at Gage Workman when he struck him out looking to end the eighth inning.
It sent the game into the top of the ninth, tied at 5-5.
Arizona State led 5-3 for six innings before a momentum-shifting two-run homer from St. Mary’s junior third baseman Dylan Robertson that tied the contest in the top of the eighth. One, two, three he Sun Devils went down in the eighth’s bottom half, before the Gaels pushed through a run to take a 6-5 ninth-inning lead.
ASU (2-4) left two men aboard in the top of the ninth, falling to St. Mary’s (4-2) by a score of 6-5 in game two of the series at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“Hard bunt back to ya. You throw it back to second like you’ve done 1,000 times, and we’re still playing. We’ve got to make plays when the game’s on the line,” manager Tracy Smith said.
Smith pointed to one sequence that pushed the Sun Devils out of it.
Tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth, ASU closer junior left-hander Connor Higgins had a runner at first with no outs. A bunt was hit straight back to Higgins who threw it into center field. What could’ve been a double-play, led to a runner on second with no outs.
A St. Mary’s single later, and Higgins threw a wild pitch, sending the game-winning run home.
“The guy was out by ten feet,” Smith said. “He just didn’t execute the throw.”
The Sun Devils fell in an early hole, trailing 3-0 in the first inning, before stringing together seven consecutive to take a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the second. ASU scored four of its five runs with two outs.
The second inning hit-explosion included a solo shot from freshman first baseman Spencer Torkelson and a triple from junior center fielder Gage Canning.
“When we were attacking early that’s when we had our most success,” Canning said.
Then, St. Mary’s junior right-hander Andrew Milam mixed his pitches. Getting deeper in the count, he found greater success.
The Sun Devils achieved just two hits in the final seven innings.
“It seemed like every hitter we had was hitting with two strikes,” Smith said. “We got back to that same pattern late of allowing him to locate the fastball away.”
Junior starting pitcher Eli Lingos recovered from his first inning woes, retiring 11 consecutive batters en route to the top of the sixth. His day ended after 5 2⁄3 innings on three earned runs, one walk and five strikeouts.
Freshman right-hander Sam Romero then relieved for Lingos, tossing a scoreless seventh inning, before St. Mary’s Robertson knocked in his 2-run homer over left field, evening the score at 5-5 in the eighth.
Higgins’ faulty ninth then gave St. Mary’s the win.
“I’m sick to my stomach about this loss,” Smith said. “The bottom line is this team grew from that. We know we’re going to be in it and it’s going to take a mindset of playing to win and not just trying to hold on.”
Sophomore third baseman Carter Aldrete collided with a St. Mary’s runner in the first inning. He played four more innings until he came out in the sixth because . Workman replaced him at third.
Jeremy McCuin, who started at first base in Friday night’s 6-1 loss, did not play Saturday. Smith said he is hurt, and unavailable for about a week.
Freshman right hander Boyd Vander Kooi will start on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. He shutout Miami (Ohio) in seven innings in the third game ASU’s series opener.