It seemed all but certain that the Sun Devils would take Tuesday night’s game over Cal State Fullerton. Despite leading since the first inning, the man who started the offense, failed on defense.
ASU, which held a 4-2 lead going into the top of the ninth, lost 7-6 on Tuesday night.
“Sometimes you’re going to have live with those plays when your playing this many young guys,” head coach Tracy Smith said.
In the top of the ninth, the bases were loaded with one out. The play was almost routine. Freshman first baseman Spencer Torkelson fielded a ground ball forced by lefty sophomore Chaz Montoya, but struggled to get a good grab from his glove. His throw to second was low and got past freshman shortstop Drew Swift into left field. Two runners would score. The game was tied.
After a pitching substitution, junior lefty Connor Higgins forced a tough ground ball that traveled in between sophomore catcher Lyle Lin, Higgins and Torkelson, but no one could produce an out, and the leading run would score. 5-4 Titans.
Two batters later, another opportunity for Torkelson to end the inning. He was taken off the bag to field the ball, but failed to connect on the throw to Higgins covering. 6-4 Titans.
Higgins then followed with a wild pitch which pushed the lead to 7-4.
“That’s just the inexperience piece rearing its ugly head,” Smith said. “He’s a great player and going to be an awesome player when it is all said an done. I don’t expect those mistakes to happen again.”
Torkelson’s mistakes were not the only in the game. Swift also committed two errors in the second inning that resulted in a 1-1 tie by the Titans. It later became forgiven when Swift singled up the middle to drive in two runs and make the lead 3-1.
The defensive miscues unfortunately made it easy to overlook the fact that Torkelson crushed his 14th homerun of the season; an opposite field shot in the first inning.
“Defense is key,” red-shirt freshman pitcher Dellan Raish said. “Make good plays behind the pitchers and you’ll win the game.”
With only two wins since a home sweep of Oregon, the Devils locker room is hungry for a complete game effort all around. The Devils will take on Cal State Fullerton for the final game of the series. First pitch is Wednesday at 6:30.