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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils’ comeback falls short in rubber match loss to Washington

One inning of fireworks wasn’t enough

Ryne Redd/Twitter (@RyneRedd)

Washington’s Joe Wainhouse blasted a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, emphatically slapping the hands of his Huskies teammates in 106-degree heat when he entered the dugout to take a 7-4 lead in what eventually turned to a 7-6 rubber match win over Arizona State.

ASU sophomore third baseman Carter Aldrete struck out swinging with a runner on first and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, ending the series, and dropping ASU to 19-27 overall and 11-13 in Pac-12 play.

Wainhouse’s shot was the difference in ASU’s Sunday loss that handed the Devils their third Pac-12 series defeat in a row.

But if you ask manager Tracy Smith, he’d point fingers at other faults.

“We’ve not played well defensively. I think that caught up to us today,” Smith said.

With runners on first and second in the second inning, freshman Hunter Jump dove for a ball that tipped off his glove and turned into an RBI-double. It then led to another run on a fielder’s choice. ASU trailed 2-0.

An inning later with a runner on first, Taylor Lane caught a pop up that fell out of his glove before he reached in to throw it. The error led to two unearned runs off a double and a fielder’s choice.

“We miss played two fly balls that lead to four runs. That’s a win,” Smith said. “That’s something that everybody in this locker room should be capable of doing is catching a fly ball.”

Washington got ahead of Arizona State early, scoring five runs off senior lefty Eli Lingos who threw 56 pitches in his four-inning start.

Huskies’ sophomore right-hander Jordan Jones silenced ASU for six innings until the Sun Devils sparked four runs in the seventh.

ASU freshman Spencer Torkelson, who played designated hitter Sunday, knocked an RBI single into left center. Jones then left the game, and senior center fielder Gage Canning lined his eighth home run of the season over the left field fence, making the score 5-4.

“With our offense it’s so dangerous with teams; like one through nine,” Torkelson said. “You give us nine outs. We’re not out of the game.”

ASU was blanked in the eighth, before scoring twice in the ninth.

Freshman pinch hitter Trevor Hauver hit a single that scored a run, and sophomore Lyle Lin popped an RBI sac fly, leaving Aldrete to then strike out and end the game.

Seven of ASU’s nine batters earned hits Sunday, including a three-hit performance by Torkelson and two-hit contests for freshmen Alika Williams and Gage Workman.

Williams, the Devils’ usual second baseman, played at shortstop, while freshman Drew Swift sat the bench. Also, Aldrete, who has bounced around at third, left field and first base, played second base.

With 64 errors this season, the Sun Devils have committed 17 more than their opponents. Swift, the regular shortstop, leads ASU with 13 errors on a team-high 132 attempts. Williams has seven of these miscues in 119 attempts (second-most on the team).

“It felt like home,” Williams said grinning. “I just wanted to play this year, so any way I could get on the field, but definitely shortstop is where I like to be.”

After Lingos’ outing, freshman right-hander Boyd Vander Kooi returned to the mound for the first time since March 24. The once-Friday starter threw two scoreless innings, while striking out three. He gave up one hit.

Vander Kooi had suffered an arm strain early this season. He said he felt no pain Sunday.

“It’s sweet because you know that what you’re looking at is pretty good — probably a bonafide Friday starter in the Pac,” Smith said. “The bitter part of it is you sit there and say ‘sure could use that.’”

Smith later explained he doesn’t expect Vander Kooi to start a game with nine left to play, and that he’ll continue to work the freshman in the bullpen.

ASU takes a quick Pac-12 hiatus, as the Sun Devils travel to University of San Diego (21-27, 10-14 WCC) for a Wednesday night affair, before heading back home for games on Sunday and Monday against Pacific (19-25, 9-15 WCC).