The Sun Devils have dropped a number of gut-wrenching losses this season. Although, they’ve seldom been thoroughly beat from first pitch to last as they were Friday night in Berkeley in a 7-2 loss to host California (24-19, 10-9 Pac-12).
Arizona State (25-15, 10-9)) fell victim to superb starting pitching, managing just six hits in the series opener against the Golden Bears.
The bottom of the third was not kind to new ASU pitcher Tyler Thornton, who replaced starter Joe Hauser.
The long ball, a huge part of Cal’s game throughout this season, was featured again when Keshawn Ogans launched Thornton’s second pitch out to left field to give the Golden Bears a 1-0 advantage.
Two batters later, A Cole Elvis RBI single followed a Steven Zobac double, and Cal’s lead doubled before Thornton recorded an out.
The Bears added two more runs in the fateful third inning. Dylan Beavers tripled in a run, and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Darren Baker capped off the four-run frame.
Thornton settled down, putting up a pair of scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth. Cal added to its lead in the sixth, however, chasing Thornton from the game.
Brady Corrigan inherited two of Thornton’s runners, and allowed each to score when Ogans and Zobac came up big for California again. A sac fly and RBI single pushed the Bears’ lead to 6-0.
The Sun Devil bats were dormant through the game’s first six frames, dominated by Cal starter Josh White. White has emerged as the true Friday night starter over the last month, building a 1.55 ERA and boasting a 1.28 K/9.
White was on cruise control through the game’s first five-plus innings, and his final line featured four strikeouts to go with four walks, while surrendering just three of ASU’s six base knocks.
With White out of the game in the top of the seventh, ASU mounted a modest rally. After a Sam Ferri walk, Nate Baez pinch ran at first for the catcher. Joe Lampe followed with a single, forcing Cal head coach Mike Neu to go to his bullpen for the second time of the night.
Ian Villers was summoned, and got two quick outs before Sean McLain put the Devils on the board with a two-out, two-run double to right.
McLain was the only ASU batter to record multiple hits. His two supplemented knocks from Drew Swift, Hunter Jump, Jack Moss and Joe Lampe.
Cal’s seventh and final run was unearned, coming in the bottom of the seventh at the expense of reliever Christian Bodlovich. A rare error from freshman third-baseman Hunter Haas allowed Cal’s Quentin Selma to score.
The series continues Saturday afternoon, as first pitch in game two is set for 3 p.m. local time. If head coach Tracy Smith sticks with his formula as of late, veteran right-hander Justin Fall will be on the bump as the Sun Devils look to even the series.