Freshman shortstop Alika Williams slapped an RBI single into center field, sparking a cry from the 4,587 in attendance when Arizona State cut arch-rival Arizona’s lead in half Tuesday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
The Sun Devils trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth. It took less than a frame further for the game to evaporate out of ASU’s hands.
“I think we gave it to them,” Smith said. “When you look at our losses this year. Your eyeballs take you to two places. They take you to errors and walks.”
In a three-walk, one-error, one-hit, eight-batter top of the fifth, the Wildcats scored three runs to take a 5-1 lead. That deficit was too much for Arizona State (8-9) to handle, as it fell 6-2 to Arizona (10-6) on Tuesday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Arizona State has dropped its third straight. The Sun Devils are under .500 for the first time in March.
Smith reflected on that sloppy fifth inning.
“I can promise you, the minute that throw was made, there was nobody in the park that felt worse than him,” ASU manager Tracy Smith said. “I guarantee you he was saying ‘hit the next one to me.’”
Freshman third baseman Gage Workman underthrew freshman first baseman Spencer Torkelson at first, as two Arizona runs came in off an error in the fifth.
Workman is filling in for injured sophomore outfielder Hunter Bishop. Bishop’s absence pushed sophomore Carter Aldrete from third base to the outfield. Workman’s error was just one of three from the Sun Devils. Arizona had one.
Starting right-handed sophomore Alec Marsh was responsible for five of Arizona’s six runs (three earned), while left-handed freshman Dellan Raish let up an RBI single in the sixth.
Offensively, the Sun Devils have stalled out, scoring three runs in the past three games.
“I keep an in-game chart myself of balls that were hit hard, and when I go back on that sheet and I see 19 baseballs were hit hard and we have eight hits to show... It’s telling us that we’re hitting a lot of barrels, we’re just not finding the space right now,” Smith said.
The last time the Sun Devils won, the team hit .375 with runners in scoring position in 9-4 Friday night victory over UNC Wilmington. In the three games since, ASU has hit 0-for-10 and 1-for-11. On Tuesday, the Sun Devils hit 2-for-8 with RISP.
Aside from Williams’ fourth inning single, Torkelson rocketed his ninth home run on a solo shot in the fifth inning. After Arizona scored in the sixth, there wasn’t a whisper of a run from either team.
Sophomore Gage Canning ended his 16-game hitting streak going 0-for-4, while freshman Zane Strand made his first appearance since having Tommy John surgery last season, as he threw a 13-pitch scoreless eighth inning.
The Sun Devils begin conference play with a three-game home stint against Oregon, beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m.