An Arizona State fan shouted “quit throwing batting practice,” and unlike most exaggerated comments from supporters, this one had support behind it.
Nebraska continued to rip off hard singles and doubles off of Sun Devil reliever Christian Bodlovich in the fifth inning. Those seemed like wins for the Arizona State pitching staff. Bodlovich had just replaced Bryce Barnett, who surrendered home runs to Nebraska’s Cam Chick, Joe Acker and Leighton Banjoff as well in the Huskers’ seven-run fifth.
Arizona State (8-4) never found its form on the mound and fell to Nebraska (2-7) 18-10.
Sun Devil coach Tracy Smith wasn’t all disappointed with the pitches, he credited Nebraska’s performance.
“I thought everything they put the bat on was hit hard,” Smith said. “...That’s going to happen sometimes. Honestly for me it’s just one of those games...There’s not a lot to make out of that other than sometimes it just happens.”
Sunday’s tone setter occurred in third inning. After retiring six of the first seven batters he faced, ASU’s starting pitcher Justin Fall lost his command. An error and two singles to load the bases appeared to rattle Fall a bit.
He walked and hit the next two batters to hand Nebraska its first two runs. He then fell behind 2-0 to Banjoff, the problem with his next pitch wasn’t that it was out of the zone but caught too much of it. Banjoff launched it over the left field fence for a grand slam as part of his two-homer day.
“For me it wasn’t so much the home runs or the balls that go over the wall. It’s the execution of the free bases, failed job of putting guys away. He struggled today,” Smith said on Fall.
The ASU offense did its part. Trevor Hauver, Drew Swift and Spencer Torkelson all homered against Nebraska. For Torkelson, it was his first home run of the season with runners on base. He had three hits and four RBIs, and summed up that they could only do so much from the batter’s box.
“We did our job. They got more hits and runs than us. We didn’t make many mistakes but that’s just baseball,” Torkelson said. “The ball was flying a bit, they got under some balls. You pretty much just forget about it.”
Swift’s two-run home run in the seventh inning marked the first of his career. He said he got an inside fastball and just went with it.”
“I felt good the whole weekend. I honestly was trying to hit a line drive,” Swift said. “I just got some good launch angle in there.”
Smith and the players afterwards all had a similar message that didn’t include disappointment. The team won its series and as long as they keep doing that, the Sun Devils are doing something right.
The Sun Devils will hit the road for the first time this season on Tuesday and Wednesday as a two-game series in California against Cal State Fullerton. Despite making a planned appearance on Sunday, left-handed pitcher Erik Tolman still slots to start one of those two games against the Titans.
Smith is now just looking to see how his team responds after the loss.
“This was the first day getting roughed up. This sport, just sports in general, life in general is (about) how do you bounce back? You got to have a short memory on that,” Smith said. “We’ve got two very important baseball games coming up.”