“When you go back and look at our losses this year, you can probably pinpoint it to one thing. Our inability to throw strikes,” Sun Devils’ head coach Tracy Smith said. “And so when you do that it makes it very, very difficult to win.
The story was no different for Arizona State (11-10), as it walked nine batters in their 10-3 loss to No. 19 UNLV (19-3) on Tuesday night.
Starting pitcher Alec Marsh had only walked five opponents coming into Tuesday’s game, but the sophomore had an uncharacteristic outing, walking four over five innings. Marsh escaped the second inning without allowing a run after walking two in the frame. He wouldn’t be as fortunate an inning later.
Marsh again walked a pair of Rebels before center fielder Kyle Isbel smashed a three-run home run to give UNLV a 3-0 lead. It was the first home run Marsh has given up all season.
“I don’t mind the kid’s three-run homer in the third inning. I mind the two walks before that, Smith said. “I’m sitting there trying to talk to the team, what I am going to say. When you give up 10 free passes you’re probably going to lose the baseball game.
“You give 10 free bases. Good luck to you trying to win. There’s where I’m just a little upset with this one.”
The Sun Devils were able to tie the game at three heading into the eighth inning, but walks once again disrupted the inning. Freshman left-handed pitcher Dellan Raish gave up a double and a walk to start the inning. Isbel then drove in his fourth RBI of the game with a single that ended Raish’s night.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Chaz Montoya attempted to get ASU out of the jam, but only made it worse. Montoya walked the first batter he saw to load the bases. The next batter, UNLV’s Max Smith, cleared the bases with a three-run triple to extend the Rebels’ lead to 7-3 in what would eventually be a 10-3 win.
In total six of UNLV’s 10 runs originally reached base via a walk or were hit by pitch.
On offense freshman first baseman Spencer Torkelson took sole possession of the team’s RBI lead after collecting a pair on Tuesday for a season total of 22. For the fourth straight game sophomore right fielder Carter Aldrete also drove in a run.
Arizona State will head to Los Angeles for a three-game series with the UCLA Bruins starting on Friday.
“We have got to get more consistent in throwing it over the plate and seeing what they do,” Smith on moving forward. “It all starts on the mound and until that happens. Until some guys grow up. Until we find those roles. It’s hard to get in any sort of rhythm because it sucks the life out of the game.
“Guys are confident, I don’t think they’ve lost any confidence. There are some guys that are frustrated because like I said you’d rather see a 500-foot home run than 10 walks.”