With a chance to take a series, No. 20 Arizona State (35-14, 14-10 Pac-12) couldn’t get the job done as Nebraska (26-19, 13-8 Big Ten) took a Sunday rubber match in Lincoln by a final score of 8-5.
Senior pitcher Sam Romero got the nod on the mound in Sunday’s contest, but he couldn’t escape the second inning. Romero gave up three runs while walking two. Freshman reliever Erik Tolman came on in relief.
Nebraska went up 1-0 in the first inning against Romero off a home run from freshman infielder Cam Chick. However, ASU junior Lyle Lin would respond right back in the top of the second with a solo shot of his own to the opposite field.
The bats behind Lin would then join the party. Sophomore second baseman Drew Swift and junior center fielder Hunter Bishop recorded RBI’s in the second to make things 3-1. After that however, things would get bumpy for the Sun Devils.
Romero and Tolman couldn’t sustain a shutdown inning and the Cornhuskers traded punches by depositing two runs to tie the game at three in the bottom of the second.
Then walks would plague the Sun Devil bullpen. In Sunday’s game, the staff gave away 10 free passes.
As they often do, the walks came back to haunt them. Cornhusker sophomore infielder Jaxon Hallmark had a three-run blast to tear the game open to 7-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
Sophomore outfielder Trevor Hauver homered in the seventh inning, and Lin hit his second of the day in the eighth, but Nebraska’s bullpen would hold on to win. The four-run fifth proved to be the difference.
A series loss at Nebraska certainly isn’t what the Sun Devils were searching for at this stage in the season. With better overall statistics and a better ranking going into this weekend, it would have appeared that ASU was the better ball club coming in.
However, tales of year’s past with free passes and pitching struggles came back to plague the Sun Devils on Sunday. Nebraska took advantage on its home field and upset a top-25 opponent.
At this point, the Sun Devils seem to have arrived at a crossroads in their 2019 season. Will they replicate the early season dominance that at one point had them as the talking point of college baseball, or will they revert to past woes? The next two series’ to end the season should be a good indicator of what is to come.
ASU closes out the regular season against both Pac-12 Bay Area schools. They stay on the road and will head to Berkeley next weekend to take on Cal before ending the season at home against No. 2 Stanford.
First pitch of game one against the Golden Bears is set for Friday, May 17 at 6:05 p.m. MST.