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ASU Baseball: Depleted pitching staff hinders Sun Devils in loss to Stanford

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Lackluster late-innings

In a see-saw affair on Sunday afternoon, Arizona State stayed within striking distance and entered the top of the ninth inning only down one run (6-5). The Stanford offense had other plans though to open up the game.

The Cardinal (22-7, 8-4 Pac-12) went on to score seven runs in the top of the final frame, squashing any momentum the Sun Devils (19-11, 8-7) might have had in the 13-5 loss.

The top of the ninth featured two of Stanford’s three homers on the day, including its second grand slam of the weekend. They tallied a total of five hits and three walks in the inning.

Coming into Sunday’s game, ASU used eight different arms throughout the weekend. Ethan Long, one of the only pitchers to not throw, was unavailable Sunday because he was serving a one-game suspension after getting thrown out of Saturday’s 12-inning loss.

“I saw a little bit of the pitching stuff caught up to us,” Arizona State head coach Tracy Smith said. “It magnifies things today when we were already taxed in the pitching staff.”

Besides the ugly ninth, the ASU pitching staff did not look like themselves. Tyler Thornton started on the mound and came out of Sunday’s game throwing 4.1 innings, giving up four runs on six hits and walking three.

The combination of Graham Osman, Jared Glenn and Brock Peery out of the bullpen threw 3.1 innings and gave up two runs on five hits, and left five runners on. The 11 walks given up stuck out like a sore thumb.

“We ask a lot out of our guys,” Smith said. “We just didn’t play cleanly... and got to make sure we stay confident.”

The Cardinal offense managed to score at least one run in six of the nine frames. They also only went down in order only one time the entire game (the first).

Besides Tim Tiwa, who hit the grand slam, Christian Robinson and Drew Bowser were two hitters that gave ASU the most trouble. They each went 3-5 with a home run, double and totaled five RBIs.

Offensively, ASU looked stellar in the early-going. They got their first runs of the afternoon in the bottom of the second. Jack Moss and Hunter Haas had back-to-back hits that put runners on the corners. Kai Murphy then hit a sacrifice fly to right, bringing in Moss.

There was a stretch between the second and fourth innings that the Sun Devils added at least one run. They also added two in the seventh behind a Sean McLain double and Moss single.

Haas and Moss each went 3-5 and the Sun Devils had four of their 13 hits go for extra bases. Each team left 10 runners on base and there were three lead-changes throughout the game.

“I think this weekend was a fun weekend to play in, especially when all the games are close,” Haas said.

Up next, the Sun Devils will take a break from Pac-12 opponents, as they play Grand Canyon in a home-and-home series starting at 6:35 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Tuesday night. They will then travel to GCU on Wednesday, before leaving for Utah.