A one-run loss doesn’t look awful in the box score, but dig a little deeper and it was another frustrating night for Arizona State baseball.
The Sun Devils (17-23) fell to a quality WAC opponent in New Mexico State (27-14) by a score of 8-7. The errors in the field and a base running blunder derailed two comeback attempts.
Freshman sensation Spencer Torkelson had another strong night at the dish, getting on base three times. But, once again, his defensive errors marred the Sun Devils chances against the Aggies.
New Mexico State got its first two hitters on base in the fourth inning. ASU reliever Brady Corrigan then induced a shallow fly ball to right field. Aggie Joey Ortiz tagged from third and ran halfway down the line. Torkelson attempted to throw Ortiz out, but instead threw it down the third base line giving the Aggies the lead.
A lead they would not relinquish.
“Just play catch. It’s something we talk about. This game is a game of catch and throw,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said. “We didn’t do that effectively, we had that out it would have gotten us out of the inning.”
Opening Day starter Spencer Van Scoyoc once again found himself starting on the bump for ASU. His first two innings were dominant, only allowing one base runner while striking out three hitters.
It all fell apart in the third, however. Van Scoyoc gave up consecutive hits to NMSU’s eight- and nine-hole hitters, hit two batters and walked in a run. The end result was a four-run inning, a three-run deficit and a silent Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
“I thought he was around the zone. Probably the only disappointing AB or guy he was faced was the four-pitch walk there with the bases loaded,” Smith said. “It was good to see him get the first couple we ran him back out there just to try and get the confidence level back up there even after the four-run inning.”
The Sun Devils had another comeback in them, trailing by four with nine outs to play. With the four, five and six hitters due up, ASU had a chance to get back into the game.
New Mexico State brought on Chance Hroch, who entered the contest with a 1.86 ERA. Lyle Lin promptly welcomed him to the game with a ringing double to left, followed by a single up the middle from Taylor Lane. Hunter Jump then electrified the sparse Muni crowd with a triple to right center field.
All of a sudden, the Sun Devils were only down one run. Jump has seen his name in lineup more often lately, and he’s taken advantage of his opportunity.
“You produce you play. The beautiful piece with him is he’s not had a lot of people tell him how good he is. He goes out there and earns what he gets,” said Smith about his freshman outfielder.
Matthew Perea came in and threw two shutdown innings, cleaning up the mess left by Hroch. Brock Whittlesey walked the tightrope in the ninth but slammed the door by striking Hunter Bishop out looking with two men on base to secure the victory.
The Sun Devils now turn their attention to the 5th-ranked Oregon State Beavers. OSU swept the Sun Devils last season in Phoenix, and this trip won’t be any easier for a young team.
“I would imagine with their pitching staff you’re not going to be able to climb back in and score seven to ten runs a game,” Smith said. “You got to limit their free bases and take advantages of your opportunities when you get them.”